Three Things – Iowa Senate Race

Harkin and Braley

Harkin and Braley

Partisan politics, and the manner in which the founders set up the federal government with its bicameral legislature, yielded an inability to deal with problems much beyond our noses. The founders planned it that way.

“A government of representatives, elected by the people at short periods, was our object; and our maxim at that day was, ‘where annual election ends, tyranny begins;’ nor have our departures from it been sanctioned by the happiness of their effects,” wrote Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Adams in February 1800.

With due respect to a fellow Virginian, the Congress seems unable to solve the most pressing issues of our time and that is becoming problematic. In a choice between Congressman Bruce Braley and State Senator Joni Ernst, Braley is the only choice to meet today’s needs. He isn’t perfect, but who is?

The constant reference to getting things done through bipartisanship by both candidates indicates a failure to understand the nature of what the founders intended in favor of politics of the day. That is not all bad, but it misses the point.

What has changed since the 18th century is humanity’s increasingly global perspective and interconnectedness. I’m not only talking about the Internet, although that is part of it. On any given day, I run into people from most inhabited continents, but from China especially. They are in Iowa to study at the university, but they have an opportunity to make connections that was unlike anything the 1700s. These travelers will take home what’s best about Iowa, and I don’t mean corn, soybeans and pork.

Additionally, business has gone global. When I worked for the oil company, we did business in 89 countries. With their merger with BP, the footprint grew even broader.But that is not all of what is different.

A global perspective on business was evident in the 18th century, and one might say the “discovery” of the Americas was part of business growth. At the same time, the need and desire to comprehend laws and culture throughout the globe and leverage that information for profit has grown to a scale unimaginable three hundred years ago. The U.S. is not isolated from the rest of the world, and it is unbecoming for politicians to assert that we can do what’s best for Iowa without examining a global context.

That said, there are three things I would like to hear from the Republican contender to be Iowa’s junior U.S. Senator, but likely won’t.

I would like to hear something other than that there is a problem with Social Security. Ernst is a parrot of the Congressman Paul Ryan plan for Social Security. In a cynical ploy to retain votes, she asserts keeping the sacred trust to seniors and those approaching retirement, but advocates doing something else, although she hasn’t decided what, for younger people. She indicated privatizing Social Security is on the table, but what she really means is that future retirees will have to fend for themselves.

She recently criticized Braley for not solving the problems with Social Security during his eight years in Washington, but the truth is that Republicans have never been fans of Social Security and have worked to chip away at its benefits since its inception. Ernst is no different, and Braley has defended Social Security.

I would like to hear how Ernst would address our nuclear complex. The late Robin Williams pointed out, “remember the big weapons− huge weapons− the ones that really can do us in− are not in the hands of us. Something much bigger. Whether you believe in intelligent design or just a guy named Phil who’s pissed.” The threat of nuclear annihilation is not funny, even if Williams was. Would Ernst have the U.S. join the international humanitarian campaign to abolish nuclear weapons, or is she already under the spell of John Bolton and other conservative hawks that continue to assert U.S. hegemony through a weapon that could end or change permanently civilization as we know it without solving any of our most pressing problems?

Finally, I would like to hear what Ernst will do about the tangible impact on business and society of our changing climate. I heard and previously wrote about her lack of understanding about climate change as stated in the debate with Braley. Either she is incompetent to be a U.S. Senator, or she can learn. If she can learn about climate change, what is she willing to do to protect our common interests in air, water and the conditions that currently nurture life in Iowa and throughout the globe? Bet we don’t hear from her on that either.

The challenge this election cycle is the media and its corporate backers have created such a firestorm of disbelief among voters, that many are expected to skip this cycle. There are more than three things I’d like to hear from Ernst, but I am already confident of where Bruce Braley stands, so why should I insist. That would be time taken away from convincing people to vote for Bruce Braley.

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