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The Gazette editorial board’s closing thoughts on 2021
As 2021 draws to a close, The Gazette editorial board has been looking back on the editorials we published over the past 12 months.
There was a common theme among three of the biggest stories we tracked this year — hopeful signs of progress eventually were dashed by inaction and political opportunism.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic was once again the biggest story of the year.
We had high hopes at the start of 2021 that newly available COVID-19 vaccinations would signal the winding down of the public health crisis that has dominated our lives for nearly two years now. Regrettably, a number of factors including new variants have extended the pandemic.
Throughout the year, we urged state leaders to do what’s possible to mitigate the pandemic’s worst effects — to give local governments the power to mandate masks, make testing and vaccines more easily accessible and target relief at those who need it most. By and large, they failed on all counts, so our recommendations for 2022 remain the same.
The new year was greeted by chaos and bloodshed at the U.S. Capitol. For a moment, it seemed like the Jan. 6 riots might finally jolt Republicans into reckoning with their blind support of then-President Donald Trump.
Following that historic disgrace, there was a small crack in Iowa Republicans’ steadfast loyalty to Trump when the whole congressional delegation voted to certify Joe Biden’s win, defying Trump’s demands to throw out the election results.
That defiance was short-lived. Iowa’s congressional Republicans have since cozied back up to the former president and flirted with embracing his false claims of a rigged election.
With prosecutions underway against participants in the Capitol riot, we hope to see justice served in 2022. And with midterm elections coming into view, we hope Iowans will think long and hard before supporting any of Trump’s enablers.
Criminal justice reform
After the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, there seemed to be an emerging consensus that state governments needed to pursue significant police accountability measures.
The Iowa Legislature in 2021 provided a prime example of how these issues have been struck from the agenda. In her Condition of the State address in January, Gov. Kim Rey-nolds proposed a bill that would both increase protection for police officers but also crack down on racial profiling by police. Lawmakers kept the former and ditched the latter in what became known as a “Back the Blue” law.We hope the Legislature will reconsider that legislation in 2022, but we’re not hopeful. Lacking state leadership, city and county governments must take the lead in ensuring adequate citizen oversight of police.
Here’s hoping for more compassion, thoughtfulness and civility in 2022.
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