The Iowa Democratic Party has had a rough year. First, the bungling of last February’s caucuses, and now a dismal showing in races across the state on Nov. 3.
The elevation and financial backing of moderate, middle-of-the-road candidates clearly isn’t working to motivate progressives or swing undecided and independent voters in this state. While Abby Finkenauer’s loss is befuddling given her record of diligent work for Iowans in Congress, and Rita Hart remains in contention as votes are counted in the 2nd District, the campaigns of Hart and Theresa Greenfield were lackluster affairs from the beginning. Both candidates peddled a compromising work-with-anyone message that has come to commonly serve as a euphemism for inaction and political expediency. Meanwhile, there are issues in this country and state that demand urgent action, including social justice, human rights, environmental protection, and true universal affordable health care.
The IDP and national party are in moderation stasis. Even in a year with record voter participation, Iowa Democrats lost ground in the state. It appears the IDP and prominent Democrats are unwilling to commit to truly progressive candidates to motivate young people and transform the base for fear of alienating moderate voters and offending myopic rural sensibilities. Instead, they seem content chasing the diminishing rural vote while rearranging the deck chairs on the sinking ship of political moderation. Good luck with that.