I’m encouraged that, more than ever, people are taking seriously the importance of voting. To those who still feel it doesn’t matter, let me share this story:
When I was a state representative, I sat between two lawmakers who were excellent colleagues. Both were attentive to their constituents and accomplished important work at the Iowa Statehouse. Becky Reynolds-Knight sat to my right. Out of 11,732 votes cast in the 1996 general election, Becky won by only 146 votes. To my left sat Bill Witt, who won his first election in 1992 by only 17 votes out of a total of 12,793 cast!
So, is every vote important? Ask Bill and Becky. Better yet, ask Al Gore, who as the Democratic candidate for president in 2000, lost Florida’s electoral votes by only 537 votes out of almost six million cast in Florida — and over 50 million cast nationwide.
Yup. Every vote matters. Every election matters — and this election matters more than most. The problems confounding America — climate change, money in politics, immigration, gun violence, health care, foreign policy, and more — have grown worse and seemingly intractable.
They’re challenging for sure, but not intractable. True, Democratic leaders have sometimes failed in the past. But the current impasse is the fault of this reactionary Republican Congress and administration, who have proven inept at solving any of America’s most pressing problems while digging the hole deeper on many issues.
In Iowa, Republicans controlling the Statehouse have been worse than inept. In fact, the Republican trifecta at the State Capitol has been embarrassingly successful at enacting all sorts of draconian policies, too many to list here, several of which are so bad they’re being challenged in the courts.
Voters sometimes support a divided legislature or Congress. I get that. I understand the urge to split one’s ticket, hoping that Democratic control of one chamber and Republican control of the other will lead to a more thoughtful, cooperative approach to policy making.
Maybe that works sometimes. But that’s not the medicine for what ails Iowa and America today. Divided chambers will accomplish nothing. A new wave of Democratic leaders is rising, bringing a fresh perspective that’s resonating with voters. Let’s give them a chance to govern. To do that, Democrats need to control the House and Senate at both the state and federal level.
Across Iowa’s Fourth District — home of unabashed white supremacist Congressman Steve King — a veritable tidal wave of change is poised to shake things up. Democrats have fielded good candidates against King in the past, but I never felt any could dethrone him.
This year, I’m confident that King’s Democratic challenger, J.D. Scholten, can and will defeat King. Scholten — propelled by growing discontent with King’s voting record and litany of inflammatory comments — is running an impressive campaign fueled by hard work and intelligent, articulate stands on key issues. It doesn’t hurt that Scholten has raised more money than King, most of it from the grassroots.
It also helps Scholten that businesses who supported King in the past (Land O’Lakes, Purina, Intel Corp.) and a growing list of Republican elected officials are finally speaking out against King.
If you’re supporting one or more candidates with time and money, thank you. But take time to help J.D., too. His defeat of Steve King will land a promising, progressive Iowan in Washington, D.C. and send a message that reactionaries like Steve King don’t speak for Iowa and are no longer entitled to positions of political power.
Over the next five days, l’ll continue to reach out personally to the hundreds of independents and Republicans I know in the Fourth District and encourage them to vote for J.D. Scholten. I suspect nearly every Iowan reading this blog knows people in the Fourth District. Call or write these voters. Stress that, on an election ballot with so many important races, what happens in the Fourth District is critical.
How critical? If Scholten defeats King, it would be 2018’s political shot heard round the world.