In my formative years I was an avid reader of the Des Moines Register’s Donald Kaul. His column ran on the editorial page of the paper three times a week. When football was no longer being played and the corn had not yet started to grow for the year the entertainment in Iowa was Donald Kaul versus the state legislature.
From January to May or June, Kaul would slice and dice crackpots in the legislature who would come up with some truly goofball ideas to deal with the problems of the day. The legislatures were usually Republican, the governor was usually Republican.
The foe for the legislature in those day was most often those belligerent and unruly students and faculty especially in Iowa City who would often mock and oppose the brilliance of our legislative genii. The disrespect shown by those at the university was totally unacceptable to our legislature. This was also the time of the Viet Nam War. The university, especially the branch in Iowa City, had little respect for that war either.
Iowa’s Representatives and Senators would scheme as they could to try to bring students and faculty into line. My memory is foggy, but I seem to remember a threat to end tenure for faculty as one way to make the faculty a bit less rebellious and more compliant to their employers.
That was 50 years back. Donald Kaul would win the battles, but the legislature would win the wars, often just with threats. Fifty years later, with almost no real politically activity going on, the legislature has once again picked the universities as their foe this year along with Iowa’s voters.
At a time when Republicans hold nearly every elected office in the state the Republican led legislature and the Republican legislature seem to be on a vendetta because – why? There is still a state office they don’t control? Donald Trump didn’t get 100% of Iowa’s vote? There is still a scattering of Democratic legislators?
So at a time when the pandemic continues to ravage the state, our governor couldn’t run a kindergarten class let alone a vaccine program, Iowans are starving and real plans need to be created and assessed for recovery, our legislature wastes it’s time on revenge on Iowa’s voters and universities.
Major order of business this week was to rush through an austere voter suppression plan because of fear that an election might break out in the next month or so. Heaven knows if it does, Democratic vote should be suppressed which is what the goal is.
We have all heard the various parts of this bill. There is one part I find interesting and hope that it will backfire. This part says that if you miss a general election (what is a general election, BTW?) you go on a watch list. If you miss another GE you lose your vote. So I hope every Democratic activist will emphasize that if you don’t vote, you could lose it.
As to the continuing War on the Universities, we have the double threat of doing away with tenure and having the faculty reveal their party of choice. I would think the reaction to the loss of tenure for most any faculty member would be to start sending out those resumes as quickly as possible. One thing that tenure does is to keep outside meddlers from interfering with research. One could certainly expect meddlers like legislators to start nosing around if they suspect politically unwanted research.
After all, the legislature also wants faculty to register their party affiliation. If that doesn’t scream out that the legislature plans on meddling with some sort of political balancing act, I don’t know what does. Supposedly the reason is because conservative speech is suppressed on campus. Suppressed I guess because there are too many liberals on campuses?
My guess is that not being popular is being interpreted as suppressed. Unless listening to conservatives speak is required for graduation (and someday it may be) conservatives will not draw a crowd.
But now to the purpose of my little exercise here – could it get worse? OF COURSE IT COULD!
Down in Kansas, the U of Kansas will be eliminating their Humanities program. While there may be some fiscal reasons for doing so, cutting the Humanities which is the core around which many universities were built seems to be a blow against the mission of a school.
On the vote ‘manipulation’ side we have Arizona checking in with a couple of legislators introducing bills that could move the selection of the actual presidential electors away from being connected to the citizens votes and into the hands of the state legislature:
Arizona lawmakers are debating a new set of voting bills — including one that would allow lawmakers to review election results “if needed” and would grant the legislature the power to pick the state’s presidential electors — as Republican lawmakers around the country work to change election laws in the wake of the 2020 election.
Remember that the Arizona electors bill is in reaction to Trump’s massive lie. For that matter Iowa’s new voter suppression laws are based on the same lie.
This makes judgment as one of the most important characteristics for those who make our laws. If they can’t realize that Trump’s claim of a rigged election is bullshit with mountains of evidence to show it is a lie, then that person does not have the basic judgment to be making laws.