Monthly Archives: October 2016

A State-Bred Race

thIt’s the home stretch! I’ve been campaigning now for 21 months.  Over a year in a primary for the United States Congress and 7 months after I made the switch to run for the Iowa House.  I have been enjoying every minute of it, even though the physical and mental requirements can be, at times, exhausting.

It is a process about getting in front of people, listening, sharing ideas, and discovering new ones.  At the end of each day a candidate will access their progress and feel either that they’ve moved the 20161017_215808needle, or that they missed an opportunity.  A campaign is a test of the sturdiness of will, principles, ideology and character.

I am proud of what I have done so far, but this journey will continue, regardless of the outcome on November 8th, into parts unknown, and it will be with the purpose to serve.  I respect any candidate or incumbent for the sacrifices and commitments they have made to serve.  No one, regardless of differences, goes through this with any intention other than to do good work.

I give my opponent the same respect. In fact, yesterday at a forum, we acknowledged that we agree on a few things, even though we have fundamental (huge in some cases) differences on other topics, and I tip my hat to him for his commitment.fb_img_1476818220544

But, I am running because of those differences.

He has placed a lot of stake in a call for “Smaller/Smarter” government.  And this is where I can comfortably stand on his ground while revealing our differences.  I am all in with creating efficient, fiscally responsible, government.  I, too, want to see smarter government.

Voting for education budgets that are annually 1 to 2% lower than inflationary costs, is not smarter, however. Not when the state’s new revenue would be sufficient without giveaway subsidies and when economic growth is consistent.

Standing in the way of legalizing in-state access to medical use of cannabinoids to treat epileptic seizures, on the grounds of needing more research, may seem conscientious, but it is, in reality, a government induced smokescreen pandering to Big Pharma that spends millions lobbying against it. That isn’t smaller.

Standing with a Governor who unilaterally closed two mental health facilities without a plan to replace those beds is neither smarter nor smaller. What it does is place the financial challenge of mental health onto our local municipalities as those patients transition into our jail system.

Government is not smarter when Medicaid is privatized without enough oversight, or transitional plans in place to handle the burden of care. Government ran Medicaid with a 3% administrative cost; private MCO’s operate around 12%.   It will take a lot of new efficiencies to compensate for the difference.  And where are those new efficiencies as a patient waits 6 months for a catheter and providers wait 6 months for reimbursement and have to drop services to cover costs?

As I point out these differences I am not blind to progress. At least mental health is in our political conversation. So is water quality.  And the Governor has taken his proposal off the table that took money from the school budget to put toward cleaning our water.

Cooperation has been seen toward fighting Human Trafficking and I applaud bi-partisan efforts. But, there are ideological differences when it comes to placing priorities on public education, building infrastructure for commerce and to create jobs, women’s health, living wages, access to medicine, and civil rights for all Iowans.  That is where I carry my standard and promise to challenge any movement that compromises those garyhasissuesvalues.  It is why I’m running.


United We Stand

john-kennedy-ask-not-what-your-country-can-do-for-you-inaugural-speech-1961When President John F. Kennedy changed the tax structure to lower the highest marginal rates, while closing loopholes, it was effective because it was a balance of the right amount and in the right way. It was a confluence of fairness, equitability, and accountability that led to economic stimulus.   But, numbers alone are not why our economy stabilized and grew; Kennedy also instilled a vision that Americans could share, so that equal parts of sacrifice, generosity, and prosperity would comingle in a united concept of greatness.

“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

That was not a call from President Kennedy simply to diminish public responsibility; it was a call for participation with compassion and personal responsibility so that better government can prevail for all of us. It was his vision that we could create something better, together.

Today, as we argue over budgets, bottom lines, and what does, and does not, comprise fiscal responsibility, we must be mindful of the fact that our success, regardless of who wins seats in the House, the Senate, or the White House, is contingent upon our goal; an inspired purpose for our communities, our state, and our nation.

That is a big concept, and there will be many shades of grey in the realization of what it means to be great, but just as Kennedy’s call to action was not a litany of demands or even ideas, our “vision” can also inspire us to unite in an ideal to create a greater community with prosperity, peace, and justice.

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” was our founding ideal, echoed by Kennedy nearly 200 years later.  We can do the same.  May I offer:

“Let us look unto ourselves to better our communities, with a resolve to secure justice, for the purpose of peace, and to reap the rewards of living united.”

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. And Wrong.

My oldest son, who is now 17, likes to talk politics now and again.  I love that he is showing interest in what has been his father’s passion, and he has been coming to the table with his own ideas.  Occasionally he will come right out with what is on his mind.

“Dad, why you don’t like Big Business?”

“Where did you get that idea??!”

“Well…um…someone said that about you…” and he trailed off.

It’s hard enough to discuss politics and actually get anywhere but when you have to completely correct perceptions of your position before even making your case, it can become nothing but an exercise in futility.  But, this is my son, for whom I have the patience of Job.

The truth is, my son’s comment is something that I’ve heard before.  It comes from a misperception that Democrats, a) Don’t like big business, b) Don’t like the rich, c) Don’t like wealth accumulation or success, and, d) Want a Communist distribution of money earned by the wealthy.

Wrong.  Wrong.  Wrong.  And wrong.

I’ve never met a Democrat who didn’t like money, success, or who wants America to become a Communist state.  Maybe there are some, just like there are some people who don’t like butterflies and babies, but, as I said, I’ve never met any.

I also don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy money, or who wouldn’t like to have more of it. In fact, I know a lot of very wealthy Democrats and they aren’t embarrassed, nor do they feel that they don’t deserve what they have.

Big Business creates 50% of America’s Gross National Product.  It employs nearly half of all working Americans and when you consider that small business comprises 99% of all businesses; one can easily see the relevance of big American corporations.

No one wants to impede their success because it benefits all of us.  What we DO want to pay attention to, however, is HOW they succeed and we want to keep the power afforded to wealth balanced with the interests of the public.

I’ve heard or read so many blanket criticisms of the Occupy Movement, for example, from people who dismiss the cause as “hatred of success and American business.”  It is not.  It is hatred of unfair pandering and greed which compromises the wealth and the success of most Americans.

It was (and remains) a protest against cronyism and bailouts of financial institutions whose unscrupulous tactics to amass wealth contributed heavily to the collapse of our system.  That collapse resulted in a lot of Americans, who didn’t wield influence, to lose their savings and pensions (and jobs).

So, I’ve come back to where I always come back; a wish for more truth in our arguments.  If I am accused of “hating the wealthy and big business,” then I have to spend too much time correcting that fallacy before I can even get to a rational and factual debate.

My son and I are fine and he benefits by learning early in life how truth and rhetoric are not necessarily joined in Holy Matrimony.

Here’s what I suggest:  Conservatives should stop calling liberals “anti-business socialists who hate America,” and liberals, maybe we can stop calling them, “Greedy fear mongers who hate America.”