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Policy, not party, has my vote
Oct. 30, 2022 6:00 am
It’s a hyperpartisan world out there. But I have to confess: I’m not the hyperpartisan girl that many — including those on my own end of the political spectrum — would have you believe. Nothing reflects that more than the ballot I cast during every general election. Like literally every other ballot cast, it’s a secret ballot, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that this Republican voter does not check the box for every single Republican candidate on her general election ballots. I didn’t do that in 2020, 2018, or 2016, and I don’t plan on doing that this year. It sounds so cliché to write this, but I really do consider the specific candidate — and their policies — when I fill in the oval.
That being said, many of the candidates for whom I vote will indeed be Republicans. Unless I want to do a write-in vote (which I typically don’t,) 10 of the 33 questions posed on my ballot will ask me to choose between a Republican and a Democrat. One throws a Libertarian option into the mix, because Rick Stewart always has to run for something.
When I compare the two platforms put together by each party, it’s not hard to choose: My personal point of view is better reflected by the positions of the GOP. I don’t expect that to change any time soon, especially considering the policy borne out of those positions implemented by Republicans in the majority, to a backdrop of the Democrats’ cries of racism, misogyny, bigotry, hatred of poor people, and my personal favorite: How COVID Kim is going to kill us all.
COVID-19 was arguably the strongest driver of policy in legislative chambers nationwide in 2020 into 2021. When I look back on the decisions made by our majority-GOP statehouse, I’m not simply satisfied — I’m grateful. I’m grateful that for the most part, Gov. Reynolds and the legislature did not let themselves become so motivated by panic over the novel coronavirus that they were unable to look at the big picture regarding the lives and livelihoods of Iowans.
I can understand why Democrats don’t seem to want to “go back and further litigate” Iowa’s response to COVID-19, as it was put by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deirdre DeJear during a radio interview in July. It was Democrats who balked and catastrophized at measures such as fully reopening schools or ensuring that students who could not tolerate masks would not be barred from in-person learning. In July of 2020, for example, Jeremy Dumkrieger, an art teacher from Sioux City, wrote his own mock obituary claiming to have died alone from COVID-19 complications. He sent it to Gov. Reynolds and to multiple media outlets, encouraging other teachers to do the same. Dumkrieger is a member of the Iowa Democratic Party state central committee and an inductee into their Hall of Fame. He is alive and has not actually died, from COVID-19 or any other condition.
The November election has renewed the discussion — which some have been having for two and a half years now — about the harmful effects that prolonged school closures and mask mandates have had on student learning, development and mental health. Iowa schools reopened as early as the start of the 2020-2021 school year for in-person learning per an order by Gov. Reynolds, and were fully open for in-person learning five days a week by February 2021 after legislation was passed to require it. Every single Republican legislator voted for fully reopening schools. Every Democrat except one voted against it. It is a key determining factor in how I cast my vote.
I’ve never seen a piece of proposed legislation pique the interest of my mother, a retired Certified Financial Planner®, the way the recent state tax reform package did when I told her about Gov. Reynolds and the GOP majority’s plan to lower tax rates and eliminate taxes on retirement income in Iowa. During her decadeslong career, she saw a significant number of clients with a second residence in a state with lower (or no) tax burdens who intentionally spent enough time in those other states to declare residency outside Iowa, taking their money — and the potential tax revenue Iowa stood to gain from their residency — with them. A more inviting tax structure, according to my mother, stands to keep those Iowans — and their money — from leaving the state.
Two Democrats from each state legislative chamber joined Republicans to pass tax reform this year. The rest of the party responded with their typical doom-and-despair lament, insisting that instead of letting Iowans keep more of their hard-earned money, the state should just spend more of it. It highlights a contrast between the fiscal philosophies of each side: Lower taxation and lower government spending lets citizens put their money into our economy on their own terms, directly investing it into their communities. Higher taxation and higher spending makes for a left-wing version of trickle-down economics: Dollars trickling down to communities through the tangled web of government bureaucracy, where every program seems to be underfunded or mismanaged — or both. My philosophy is the former. My vote will reflect that.
My vote also will reflect my distaste for the policies of the federal government, some of which recently became law. Hundreds of billions in new spending disguised as reducing inflation. Loan forgiveness that absolves ill-advised borrowing practices funded by taxpayers. Energy policy that ignores our energy needs and drives up our energy costs.
Other policies loom in the distance, waiting for passage should Democrats grow their majority in Washington. The so-called For the People Act, which would massively undermine voting laws in a number of states and disrupt the pretty decent balance between election security and voter access boasted by Iowa’s current system. The deceptively-named Protecting the Right to Organize, or PRO Act, which I’ve written about before: It would destroy the rights of freelancers to work as independent contractors and undermine state laws that protect me from being forced to join a union if I don’t want to. I will never, ever vote for any candidate, Republican or Democrat, who favors the PRO Act.
Everyone who picks a team will find that team is capable of causing their supporters both satisfaction and disappointment. (I’m a Cyclone fan. I know this.) Of the latter, politics is the epitome. Yet many take a side anyway. They vote for a candidate simply because of their party affiliation and don’t give it a second thought until two, four or six years later, when that candidate comes around again asking for our vote.
Others know that the real battle of ideas comes after the election, when our legislators gavel in and try to formulate policies out of those ideas. Some of their efforts have disappointed me. A number of others, passed by the Republican majority, have my support, and those who champion those policies have my vote. But when they earn my vote, they also invite my attention and accept my expectations should they win their races. Politics is a sport with many seasons, and elections should not be its most significant.
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