Don't give up on rural Iowa

Emma Schmit chairs the Calhoun County Democrats and serves on the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee. She is also the Iowa organizer at Food & Water Watch. -promoted by Laura Belin

The November election has inspired a new wave of rural analysis. Spend five minutes looking and you’ll find five different opinions. Some claim Donald Trump’s sweep of Midwestern states indicates that Democrats should write off rural voters. Some believe the lower margin of rural Trump victories in 2020 compared to 2016 shows a slight, but not insignificant, shift in political trends that must be capitalized on.

Whatever your opinion, it’s clear that the debate over rural voters will influence strategies, campaigns and policies over the coming years — and this is something both urban and rural residents should pay attention to.

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Most Iowans in Congress supported latest COVID-19 package

The U.S. House and Senate on December 21 approved a $2.3 trillion package to fund the federal government through September 30, 2021 and provide approximately $900 billion in economic stimulus or relief connected to the coronavirus pandemic.

No one in either chamber had time to read the legislation, which was nearly 5,600 pages long, before voting on it. Statements released by Iowans in Congress, which I’ve enclosed below, highlight many of its key provisions. The unemployment and direct payments to families are clearly insufficient to meet the needs of millions of struggling Americans. Senate Republicans blocked aid to state and local governments, many of which are facing budget shortfalls. President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to push for a much larger economic stimulus package early next year.

The legislation headed to President Donald Trump’s desk includes some long overdue changes, such as new limits on “surprise billing” by health care providers for emergency care and some out-of-network care.

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Populisms Left and Right

John Whiston contrasts two strains of American populism and ponders how a populist agenda could unite diverse Democratic constituencies.-promoted by Laura Belin

You hear a lot of anxiety these days about the rising tide of “right-wing populism.” How in God’s name did Donald Trump increase his share of the vote in localities like Lee and Clinton counties in Iowa and Kenosha and Dunn ounties in Wisconsin?  So, maybe it’s time to take a step back and think about what “populism” really means – today, historically,  and for the American future.

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Iowa's looming water and drought crisis

Tyler Granger: Impaired waterways and the ongoing drought are a 1-2 punch that could create incredible hardships for Iowans in 2021. -promoted by Laura Belin

The coronavirus and the economic fallout from the pandemic has made 2020 one the hardest years for Iowans. Unfortunately, two environmental catastrophes are on the horizon for 2021.

Nearly 60 percent of Iowa’s bodies of water are impaired, according to a report the Iowa Department of Natural Resources released this week. The trend is concerning, since Iowa has lax laws on scientific measurements regarding water quality as well as an inadequate, all-voluntary strategy to reduce toxic nutrients in our lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.

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The case for a simpler, values-driven Democratic Party platform

Jeremy Dumkrieger chairs the Woodbury County Democrats. -promoted by Laura Belin

In 2018, the Woodbury County Democrats approved the platform pasted below. It wasn’t perfect, but it was simple. It was intended to be. In fact, it could be simpler.

We wanted something we could put on a palm card to let folks know what we believe. Far too often we are bogged down by complicated rhetoric that serves only to obscure the direct message intended for everyday Iowans.

Soon the Iowa Democratic Party will host the Platform Committee’s work to finalize our state platform. I suggest they ignore specifics and finally see the bigger picture.

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Donald Trump's farmers: A diminishing political asset

Dan Piller: The real problem for Trump in Iowa is that the big farm choir he thinks he is addressing has been reduced to something more like an ensemble. -promoted by Laura Belin

President Trump’s rally at the Des Moines International Airport on October 14 will no doubt be billed by the media, and probably Trump himself, as his bid to solidify the farmer support that was so crucial in his 2016 Iowa victory over Hillary Clinton.

Trump has put his (or more properly, the taxpayers’) money where his mouth is, bestowing more than $2 billion in direct aid to Iowa farmers this year alone, along with more than $1 billion the previous two years to soften the damage caused by Trump’s trade wars with China, Mexico, and Europe. Media reports in advance of his visit put the total package nationally to farmers this year at an eye-catching $46 billion, a number that won’t charm economically hard-pressed taxpayers in America’s cities.

The real political problem for Trump in Iowa is that the big farm choir he thinks he is addressing has been reduced to something more like an ensemble.

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