Celebrating democracy in an age of backsliding

“What would you say if you saw it in another country?”

Dartmouth political science professor Brendan Nyhan used that catch phrase throughout Donald Trump’s presidency (up to its very last day) to highlight the president’s public comments or official acts that in any other country would be seen as warning signs of a slide toward authoritarian rule.

The thought experiment always resonated with me, because I saw it in another country.

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Iowans face long wait for disability services

Kyla Claussen is one of some 16,000 Iowans on waiting lists for disability services. -promoted by Laura Belin

My name is Kyla Claussen and I’m from Avoca, Iowa. I have an unknown progressive neuromuscular disorder that has been slowly taking skills away from me over the past five years. By March 2020, I was unable to walk independently anymore or work. Last August, I went on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and then applied for the Physical Disability Waiver and the Health and Disability Waiver.

I’m now waiting for services in my home, along with 15,956 Iowans on the waiting list for one of the waivers for people with disabilities. Most likely, I will be waiting for one to three years.

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Getting by on unemployment in Iowa during the pandemic

Lori Hunt is a Democrat from Polk County, a member of the Planned Parenthood Speakers Bureau, professional cat wrangler, writer, breadwinner, and bread baker. -promoted by Laura Belin

One of the first questions people ask when you meet someone is what do you do for a living? Where do you work?

If you are in between jobs or not quite at your desired one, you sigh, explain your circumstances, and give an elevator pitch as to how it happened and what you’re looking for. Our job is so tied into our identity and self worth. 

I was furloughed from my retail job at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was scheduled to start another job with the U.S. Census Bureau, but that got put on hold as well. In March, the warehouse called my manager at home and told her of the plans to temporarily shut down the store. She came over, locked up, and sent us home. 

In the rush to get out, I didn’t even grab my empty Tupperware and cheese in the fridge. We all figured we’d be back in a month. Not so likely.

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Maternal health in Iowa: You don't know what you don't know

Rachel Bruns is a volunteer advocate for quality maternal health care in Iowa. -promoted by Laura Belin

As I plan to write several posts in the coming weeks related to maternal-child health in Iowa, I want to introduce myself to Bleeding Heartland readers. For this piece, I’m going to provide some high-level information on the landscape around maternal health in Iowa from my perspective as a maternal-child health advocate.

But first, some background on myself and how I became involved in this work.

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Grief in the time of COVID

Amy Ward: “We heard that Jay’s passing was peaceful and that two nurses held his hands, but oh, how we hungered to make sure the last words he heard were from those who really loved and knew him.” -promoted by Laura Belin

In early February, our family watched the news about the novel coronavirus. We hoped, as I imagine others did, that our family would somehow remain untouched by the pandemic. That was not to be our fate.

Many of the most powerful COVID-era images that I have seen were taken from New York City or Los Angeles: stark cityscapes that seem far away and nearly foreign. In May, we buried my father-in-law Jay at a peaceful suburban cemetery – not in a big city, but in our verdant hometown of Des Moines, Iowa.

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