Zach Wahls On Midwestern Values, Family, Community

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2018 issue of  The Prairie Progressive, Iowa’s oldest progressive newsletter.

Our Midwestern values instill in us what family and community is all about. Growing up with lesbian parents during the 1990s and early 2000s, I learned at an early age what it feels like to be left out or left behind. I remember watching Republican politicians point the finger at families like mine, trying to pit us against each other while they spent trillions on wars in the Middle East and cut taxes for the wealthy. I know what it feels like to know there are people with power out to get you and your family.

I decided to run for the Iowa Senate because I knew that there were a whole lot of people feeling that way right now in our state and our country. And after knocking on thousands of doors, I have heard first-hand from too many Iowans who feel like their government isn’t on the side of their family or their community. Where Iowa used to lead, instead we’re falling behind. If you only look at the rankings of U.S. News and World Report or the topline unemployment rate, you might be able to convince yourself things in Iowa are rosy. But that doesn’t hold up if you take a serious look.

Once you actually start talking with folks, you’ll hear that health care, education, and workers’ rights are being eroded in our state. Our social foundation is being taken apart brick by brick. That’s why our community needs a champion who will stand up for our values at this all-hands-on-deck moment for the future of our state — and that’s why I’m running to succeed Senator Bob Dvorsky in the Iowa Senate.

From my testimony before the Iowa House in defense of marriage equality in 2011 to co-founding and leading Scouts for Equality, the national campaign that helped successfully end decades of discrimination in the Boy Scouts of America, I have a proven track record of doing the work and bringing people together. I don’t back down from tough fights. I’m willing to speak truth to power.

The truth is that we are in a hard time right now, and the only way through it is to work through it together. That’s what family and community are all about: working through the hard times so we can enjoy the good ones. I know we can fix our health care system, fund our K12 schools and reverse cuts to our higher education system, restore collective bargaining rights for working families, raise wages, clean up our water, and enact common sense gun safety reforms.

With so much work to do, I understand how these fights can seem overwhelming, but what’s in the way is the way. Together, we can win these legislative battles and make lives better for the everyday men and women and children of Iowa. But we can’t win these fights alone. Our community needs a Senator who will continue to support Democrats across southeastern Iowan and the rest of the state. I know I can be that leader because I’ve already done it. As an advocate with our state’s LGBTQ rights organization, I helped to protect marriage equality in our state, traveling all over Iowa having tough conversations.

This election is going to define the future of Iowa for generations to come. We all know that the 2016 election was a huge shock for our state and our country. But we are the ones who will determine if 2016, and what has happened since, was a shocking aberration or if this is our new normal. It’s up to us.

Please visit to join the campaign for Iowa’s future.

— Zach Wahls is the Democratic nominee for Iowa Senate District 37

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