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Governor, you must lead all Iowans
Laura E. Goddard
Mar. 13, 2023 12:23 pm
Dear Gov. Kim Reynolds,
I am an Iowan. I have lived my whole life in the state of Iowa. My parents were born and raised in Iowa and have spent all but a few years of their lives here. Their parents were also lifelong Iowans. All told, this equates to more than a century of residence in this state for my family.
This shouldn't matter. My neighbors who moved here two years ago, my gay and transgender friends and family, Democrats, liberals, Muslims, Jews, atheists, professors, Black and Hispanic and Native communities (the latter most especially), international students and scholars, people who speak other languages: if our place of residence is in Iowa, aren't we also Iowans?
It feels necessary to defend my "Iowa credentials," because your rhetoric regularly pits Iowans against each other, and claims that people who share my beliefs and philosophies aren't "real Iowans." That "real Iowans" can only think, and be, certain ways.
But Gov. Reynolds, I'm an Iowan, and I don't agree with many of the policies that have been enacted so quickly in recent years. If yours is the party of small government, why are you telling people how to proceed with their medical care? Why are you restricting how municipalities determine their local tax rates? Why are you restricting what books are available in schools? Why is your office proposing reducing county attorney jurisdiction? If yours is the party of fiscal responsibility and conservatism, why are taxpayer dollars being set aside for families to use for private school tuition? If yours is the party of freedom, why does so much of this legislation require Iowans to ascribe to the same ways of doing, thinking, and being?
Furthermore, Gov. Reynolds, you have been elected to serve the people of Iowa. Whether or not those people voted for you, you are now our leader. Leadership is not a light burden, and I offer you all due respect for carrying that weight, but you did choose the role. You and our legislators represent us — all of us, not just the people who agree with you. It is your responsibility to listen to us, and to think about what is best for all Iowans.
I don't want to be an activist. I've been a performer for most of my life but I don't actually want to be in the spotlight when it comes to politics. Besides considerations like being the target of hate mail or how it would affect my current or future job situation, going public with my beliefs means I have less of a chance to connect with my neighbors on a person-to-person level, establishing relationships that can withstand the tension when we disagree. Being in the spotlight also lets people assume they know my position on all issues, and forces me into taking a side, when my natural inclination is to explore an issue and consider multiple perspectives.
But I feel compelled to speak up, because the steps you have been taking are making Iowa a place where only the "right kind of people" are comfortable or welcome. That’s not my kind of Iowa.
Laura E. Goddard lives in Iowa City.
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