A new path for Iowa Democrats

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

The first time I got into a cab in DC, the driver asked me where I was from. When I said Iowa, he turned around and told me Senator Tom Harkin had ridden in this very same cab, and how lucky we were to send a very good man like that to Washington.

Since then, we’ve lost Congressional seats and state legislative chambers, watched Iowa Supreme Court justices thrown out for an unanimous ruling on marriage equality, and lost the governorship again and again.

My, how far we’ve come, Iowa Democrats. And not on a good path either. What can we do to turn this around? I’d be foolish to say this can all change in a cycle or two. The New Iowa Project is a fantastic start. It’s amazing to see activists fired up and ready to work year round to have the deep conversations needed to change hearts, minds, and votes.

Here are some things I’d like to see us focus on as well. It’s not exactly rocket science.

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Joni Ernst learned the wrong lesson from Chuck Grassley

Senator Joni Ernst shouldn’t be in this position.

Given Iowans’ tendency to re-elect incumbents and the state’s rightward drift this past decade, she should be running ten points ahead.

Instead, Iowa’s Senate race is universally seen as a toss-up. Ernst has led in only two polls released since the June primary. Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield has led in fourteen polls during the same period.

Not all of Ernst’s political problems are her own creation. The COVID-19 pandemic and President Donald Trump’s disastrous leadership have put at risk several GOP-held seats that once seemed safe.

But Ernst could have set herself up better to survive a tough environment for her party. Her most important strategic error was not following the example Chuck Grassley set as a 40-something first-term senator.

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Don't count on a "blue wave" to deliver

Keith Nichols: The Democrats’ greatest failure during Barack Obama’s presidency was not to reinstate the Federal Communications Commission’s fairness doctrine, which would have broken the back of right-wing hate radio. -promoted by Laura Belin

We don’t need to look very far back in U.S. history to see what would happen if Joe Biden wins the presidential election and Democrats somehow gain control of the Senate. 

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Why should Iowans care about D.C. statehood? The truth is, we always have

Tamyra Harrison is founder and director of Iowans For D.C. Statehood. -promoted by Laura Belin

In 1978, when Congress put what was right for the American people over party interests, Republicans and Democrats came together on behalf of a large group of American citizens.  With the required two-thirds majority, they passed a proposed constitutional amendment to give full representation in both houses of Congress to the District of Columbia.

Republican Senator Strom Thurmond said it best: “The residents of the District of Columbia deserve the right to (full) representation in Congress if for no other reason than simple fairness.”  Unfortunately, only sixteen of the required 38 states needed to ratify the amendment approved it, so it failed. Iowa was one of those sixteen states.

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The 19 Bleeding Heartland posts I worked hardest on in 2019

Five years ago, I started taking stock of my most labor-intensive posts near the end of each year. Not all of these are my favorite projects, though invariably, some of my favorites end up on these compilations.

Before getting to the countdown for 2019, I want to give another shout out to guest authors who poured an extraordinary amount of work into two posts Bleeding Heartland published last year.

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Interview: Tom Steyer on term limits, a national referendum, and impeachment

It’s hard to stand out in a historically crowded presidential field, especially when the candidates largely agree on on many issues that matter to Democratic voters.

Tom Steyer is the only candidate seeking to establish a “national referendum” to enact some federal policies through 50-state ballot initiatives.

He has made term limits for members of Congress–twelve years total in the U.S. House and Senate–a central part of his political reform agenda. (Andrew Yang also supports term limits but has focused his campaign message elsewhere.)

While several candidates seeking the Democratic nomination have expressed support for impeaching President Donald Trump, no one has highlighted impeachment in more stump speeches and campaign advertisements than Steyer.

Bleeding Heartland interviewed Steyer about those proposals in Des Moines on December 6.

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