Question: What are the similarities between the Iowa Legislature in 2007-11, the U.S.’s 111th Congress (2009-11) and both bodies today?
Answer: Single party control.
In Iowa during those years, one party controlled the Governor, Senate and House. In D.C., one party controlled the presidency and Congress. Let’s examine Iowa politics first.
There’s only one difference between Iowa’s 2007-11 Democrat-controlled Capitol under Gov. Chet Culver and today’s Republican-dominated one. During 2007-11 six of the 56 Democrats in the House of Representative were centrist Democrats who could shift votes to a 50-50 split. These six fiscally conservative and pro-business Democrats, aptly named “The Six Pack,” challenged their party’s policy and lobbyists who funded the party. The Six Pack did not always follow the party line and worked across-the-aisle with their Republican counterparts.
Despite the Six Pack’s popularity with their constituents, these practical-minded public servants did not receive re-election support by the Democrats, union lobbyists, biodiesel industry and credit unions; only one was re-elected.
In today’s Republican-controlled State of Iowa, there appear to be no moderate Republicans willing to exhibit such bipartisan behavior.
Similarly, when Barack Obama had Democrat control in Congress during 2009-11, a lot was accomplished, including the Affordable Care Act, which gave health care coverage to 20 million heretofore uninsured. The pendulum swung too far to the left and Republicans took back the House in January 2011.
Today, Iowa’s far right-wing legislation has curtailed collective bargaining rights and is trying to expand government control over women’s health care rights, voter rights, gender rights and school choice. President Donald Trump is showing us a dizzying flurry of action, sparking significant controversy and turmoil.
The policy issues and bills being advocated in Des Moines and D.C. follow the lead of conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, lock, stock and barrel.
To sum up, in today’s political world:
1. The likelihood of having centrist politicians is remote.
2. The good old days of bipartisanship exhibited by Iowa’s Six Pack or between Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill and between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich are gone.
3. The lobbyists and political action committees’ power of the pocket book with politicians supersedes the desires of the common voter like you and me.
4. Strict party-line voting has become a standard in all legislatures.
5. A one-party controlled government costs citizens’ liberties and rights and it has rarely, if ever, worked.
6. Party politics prevails over the “We the people.”
In order for our diverse views to be fairly represented in a practical, common sense manner, let’s vow: 1) never permit one-party control ever again at the state or federal level, 2) work to put a lid on campaign spending and 3) support and elect moderate, not political party-, lobby- or PAC-puppet legislators.
• Steve Corbin, emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa, is one of 12 District Leaders in Iowa for the non-partisan and not-for-profit group No Labels. More information: www.NoLabels.org. Comments: Steven.B.Corbin@gmail.com