116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
In Gov. Kim Reynolds’ latest TV ad, she is sitting in a coffee shop, watching Missouri U.S. Rep. Cori Bush say, ” And defunding the police has to happen.”
“Watching the news, you have to wonder, has the rest of the country lost its mind?” Reynolds says, turning away from the screen.
Bush is a Black woman, but she is not the Black woman running against Reynolds. Her Democratic opponent is businesswoman Deidre DeJear. Bush made her remarks in August 2021. Is this some sort of weird old TV news clips-themed coffee shop? Sounds Bites and Beans? Steaming Hot Takes?
So have the governor and her campaign lost their minds?
No, of course not. Reynolds and her team know exactly what they’re doing.
They know what they’re doing when they put a Black female face on TV calling for defunding police, even though DeJear hasn’t said she supports defunding police.
They know what they’re doing when they follow up that deceptive moment with scary rhetoric about attacks on police, open borders and “paying people not to work,” with a big welfare sign.
Even though Reynolds has the political deck heavily stacked in her favor as she seeks re-election, the governor and her team just couldn’t resist playing the race card. They had to drag out racist tropes and dog whistles about the lawless, lazy and dangerous other. Shameful, but not surprising.
“Aren’t you glad you live in Iowa?” The governor asks in the ad. “Here we still have common sense.”
Apparently, common sense is demonizing immigrants while leading a state with a severe, chronic shortage of workers.
Common sense is looking down at people on public assistance, maybe from a flight paid for by one of the governor’s many wealthy donors.
Common sense is slapping a “defund the police” label on any effort to address racial disparities and discrimination still plaguing our justice system.
It didn’t have to be this way. Maybe you remember that optimistic moment in 2020 when the Legislature unanimously approved a modest but important package of policing reforms amid protests over the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. The governor signed the bill into law under a brilliant sunny sky on the Capitol steps, surrounded by social justice advocates and lawmakers.
“To the thousands of Iowans who have taken to the streets calling for reforms to address inequalities faced by people of color in our state, I want you to know this is not the end of our work. It is just the beginning,” Reynolds told the diverse crowd that day.
But almost exactly a year later, Reynolds signed “back the blue” legislation in front of a line of law enforcement officers. The bill leveled new, more severe penalties at protesters, such as the ones who took to the streets in 2020. The governors’ advice to those protesters in 2021?
"Don’t break the law and it won’t apply to you," Reynolds said.
Reynolds proposed a bill in 2021 banning racial profiling while collecting data. Lawmakers scrapped it. She put up no fight to save it.
Iowa Republicans are once again following the lead of Donald Trump, who sought to transform protests calling for racial justice into a dark menace that would inevitably sack the suburbs. The governor is choosing fear over hope. It makes no sense, but it’s become very common in Iowa.
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