116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / Opinion / Staff Columnists
Iowans need to take responsibility
With our representatives and lawmakers ignoring public opinion on serious social and political issues, Iowa lives and livelihoods are at stake.
It’s voting season. The primary election just happened here in Iowa and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, at 88 years old, has been selected as the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate once again. His win came as no surprise, but perhaps it’s time the famed senator slipped into retirement instead of continuing his tenure in Congress.
To be honest, despite the legendary work Grassley has amassed in his various political positions, his views are quite outdated compared to what most Iowans — and Americans at large — want. That’s a bold statement to make in regard to someone who has served as a representative of Iowa for the past 63 years. But being in Congress for more than six decades can easily put them out of touch with what a younger, more progressive public wants — and that isn’t pro-life, anti-gun control policies.
Grassley’s not alone in his white conservative power and unwillingness to relinquish it. Gov. Kim Reynolds has pushed unpopular legislation a fair amount in this past term alone — including but not limited to her asking the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade (and several laws in the past couple of years further restricting abortion rights in the state) and her reduction of state unemployment benefits.
In September 2021, 57 percent of Iowans said abortion should be legal in most or all cases, while just 38 percent said abortion should be illegal in most cases, according to a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll. And another Iowa Poll found that 53% of Iowans opposed the Reynolds-backed law reducing state unemployment benefits, with just 38 percent in favor again. It’s clear our representatives are no longer listening to voters. Instead, they’re threatening the lives and livelihoods of Americans to garner favor from those who fund their campaigns and give them more airtime.
With a strongly conservative, Republican stronghold in Iowa, despite voter party affiliation split between Republicans and Democrats, according to Pew Research, the future of Iowa looks rather bleak in regard to the general public feeling heard and supported. Now, that’s not on our elected officials. That’s on Iowa voters. In order to foster necessary change for social good, Iowa will never progress alongside other states who are more open-minded. We live in a democracy. It’s time we started doing our civic duty and showing up not just for the presidential election, but all the other ones in between, too.
On a national level, more than half of American voters think abortion is morally acceptable, according to a Gallup poll, which is the first time in Gallup polling history that has happened. Just 13 percent of people believe abortion should be illegal. And common sense gun control laws have even larger support as two-thirds of Americans support moderate or strong regulations of gun ownership, including 53 percent of Republicans, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll. I’m looking at you, Grassley.
This passage from a Washington Post opinions piece succinctly captures the state of frustration I have felt, alongside many others:
“Our democracy doesn’t work when the will of the majority is consistently ignored (repudiated, even) by a minority out of step with the nation’s views and values. This takes place primarily with four antidemocratic tools: (1) the Electoral College, which has installed Republican presidents who lack majority support; (2) thinly populated, overwhelmingly white states’ disproportionate power in the Senate; (3) the filibuster, which effectively gives the minority party a veto over the majority; and (4) lifetime tenure of Supreme Court justices … Our democracy is being thwarted again and again by an increasingly radical, antidemocratic GOP driven by white grievance and nostalgia for a pre-civil-rights America,” wrote Jennifer Rubin, a Washington Post columnist.
I can understand why voters are fed up with politics and feel a sort of apathy for the whole voting process. One, because it always feels like representatives are never listening to the real needs of their voters. And two, because being hit by an onslaught of devastating events with subpar management over the course of the last six years or so has created a sort of apathy toward everything and everyone. It feels like nothing matters but now is the time when we need to stand up and make a change more than ever. If not for ourselves, then for our children and the future of our state.
Nichole Shaw is a Gazette editorial fellow. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org
Opinion content represents the viewpoint of the author or The Gazette editorial board. You can join the conversation by submitting a letter to the editor or guest column or by suggesting a topic for an editorial to email@example.com