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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We are not polarized

Jim Chrisinger: “Polarized” sounds like both sides becoming more extreme. That’s not what’s happening. One party is jeopardizing America’s 245-year grand experiment in self-government. -promoted by Laura Belin

We continually hear that our country is polarized. That implies symmetry; it gives the impression that Americans are moving farther apart on a left-right axis. The left and right each become more extreme while the middle thins.  We keep hearing politicians, pundits, and journalists claim “both sides” are responsible for this polarization.  

That’s not what’s happening, people!      

Yes, each party has extremists; that’s nothing new. What’s new is that one party, the Republican party, has veered off the political continuum. They’ve sailed off a cliff.  

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Ernst, Grassley silent on reported bounty on U.S. troops in Afghanistan

As Donald Trump’s presidency continues to spawn scandals that would seem farfetched as a movie plot, top Iowa Republicans remain silent whenever possible on news that reflects poorly on their party’s standard-bearer.

The latest shameful example: U.S. Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley have said nothing in public about reports indicating a “Russian military intelligence unit offered and paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan.”

Ernst’s silence is particularly striking, since she built her political brand on (and still frequently invokes) her career of service in the Iowa National Guard.

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Chuck Grassley can't quit covering for Trump on Russia

For the fourth time in less than two months, President Donald Trump has fired an inspector general who had stirred up trouble for him or his political allies.

Iowa’s senior Senator Chuck Grassley has championed whistleblowers and inspectors general for decades. Yet just like last month, he declined to condemn Trump’s retaliatory move. Grassley didn’t mention State Department Inspector General Steve Linick’s dismissal on his widely-viewed Twitter feed this weekend. Meanwhile, his office released a statement that dinged Linick for not looking into “the State Department’s role in advancing the debunked Russian collusion investigation.”

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In Iowa and beyond, voters must demand answers on nuclear weapons policy

Joan Rohlfing is President and Chief Operating Officer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. -promoted by Laura Belin

By the time voters across the United States cast their ballots for president next November, it will have been 75 years since the first and only use of nuclear weapons. Since 1945, through the decades-long Cold War and its aftermath, a strategy of deterrence helped prevent nuclear war between the United States and Russia, the world’s nuclear superpowers. Does that strategy still keep us safe?

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