Iowa Senators Should Show Bipartisanship by Ratifying New START

Iowa Senators Should Show Bipartisanship by Ratifying New START

by Paul Deaton

The corporate media is reducing what happened in the 2010 midterm election to a ”red wave that swept across the nation.” While the election is over, little, if anything, has changed in the electorate, and it remains to be seen whether new Republican majorities can accomplish the work Iowans hope for once elected officials are sworn in.

Recent history suggests an intensification of the partisanship experienced during the 111th Congress in the 112th. In Iowa, the firing of the three Supreme Court justices who were on the ballot for retention is emblematic of the increased partisanship of the electorate and the government can be expected to reflect the same.

Some suggest that now that the election is over there should be a switch from campaign mode to governing mode, but already this week, Mitt Romney, Bobby Jindal and Tim Pawlenty, 2012 presidential hopefuls, have been in Iowa. This indicates that the presidential campaign season has started. Actually, the 2012 campaign started well before election day. It doesn't look good for our government's ability to switch from politics to meet the needs of everyday Iowans.

Whether President Obama will be able to find common ground with John Boehner (R-OH) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), two people whose primary goal in life is to ensure that Obama is a one term president, seems doubtful. A place to start, during the lame duck session of congress that begins on November 15th, is with the New START Treaty.

What we know is that there is bipartisan support for the New START Treaty. According to Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association, “the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is one of the few domestic or foreign policy issues upon which there is a modicum of bipartisan agreement consensus.

If Senate leaders agree to spare 2-3 days for floor debate and a vote on the treaty (during the lame duck session), it would very likely win well over the 67 votes that are needed for ratification. The results of the November 2 election, which was clearly about the economy, jobs, and federal spending and not foreign policy, don’t fundamentally change that calculus.”

According to Ploughshares Fund president Joe Cirincione, some GOP staffers are trying to spin that the New START Treaty is dead. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA) has indicated otherwise. On Wednesday, Kerry spokesperson Jennifer Berlin said, “As Chairman Kerry has consistently said, approving the New START Treaty is an urgent imperative. The chairman remains committed to working with Ranking Member Lugar, Republicans, and the administration to enable the Senate to get this done by the end of the year.

“Failure to approve New START as soon as possible would not only weaken American security, it would undermine the spirit of bipartisanship that has characterized previous arms control deliberations.”

Whether Iowans will engage in U.S. Senate ratification of the New START Treaty is an open question. If Iowans fail to engage in foreign relations generally and on the New START Treaty specifically, we hope Blog for Iowa readers will.

We hope you will take the time to urge our U.S. Senators to work in a bipartisan manner to ratify the New START Treaty. It would be good for national security. It would also provide a glimmer of hope that the ability of our government to accomplish meaningful things is not completely dead.

~Paul Deaton is a
native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend editor of
Blog for Iowa.

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