Itâ€™s been a brutal stretch for Republicans since November 6th and I hate to pile on, but one issue facing the Iowa Legislature this session reflects what a perilous situation we could be in as a political party.Â That issue is automated traffic enforcementâ€”which, at least so far, applies to only red light and speed cameras.
In spite of the disaster that was the 2012 election here in Iowa, perhaps the most depressing and telling sign of how far we have to go is that a clear majority of Legislators, and apparently Iowans, are not yet willing to say definitively that automated traffic enforcement is unacceptable.Â By default then we are saying we do not object to having cameras take pictures and videos of us in order to deliver substantial fines to our mailbox some 10 days later.
What I have heard from most legislators on this lately is that they believe from talking to their constituents this is close to a 50-50 issue.Â I donâ€™t know if thatâ€™s accurate or not, but if it is then a majority of Conservatives and Libertarians are going to be in for an even worse ride than we previously thought.
I know there are several smart and well-reasoned Republicans making arguments for these cameras who see nothing wrong with them.Â I have to believe that a majority of these folks havenâ€™t had the pleasure of receiving a $110.00 ticket in the mail from a non-memorable â€œinfractionâ€ that took place a week and a half before.Â And that these same people havenâ€™t gone to the website link listed on the ticket to have the spooky experience of watching a video of them driving on a public road days beforeâ€”yes this is how it works.
All the arguments against the cameras are well documentedâ€”no right to face your accuser, you may not have been driving, you could get numerous tickets before being aware you got any, questionable impacts on safety, the fact it is yet another increased revenue stream for government, etc.â€”but the biggest one to me is the overarching issue of what tactics we allow law enforcement and government to deploy against us.Â As we know too well, once we allow government to record us autonomously and levy fines against us for traffic violations, it is unlikely to stop there.
To all the proponents on this issue on both sides of the isle I ask the followingâ€”would you support having speedometers tied to computers in your vehicles which would use GPS coordinates to determine the speed limit and then issue you a ticket sent to your e-mail each time you went 8-10 mph over said limit? The analogy isnâ€™t perfectâ€¦but itâ€™s pretty close.Â Hard to imagine anyone saying yesâ€”let alone a majority.
The politics are interesting here too.Â In short, the Republican voting coalition needs, to a large degree, to include Libertarians or else they will win nothing moving forward.Â No matter how fiscally conservative they are, be assured that if the Republican Party here in Iowa and nationally will not stand up against video surveillance and mail delivered fines then Libertarians will never vote republican in a large majority.Â In fact, you would be hard-pressed to think of an issue that could more quickly lead to a third partyâ€”and hence the death of the Republican Party.Â Frankly, the truth is I wouldnâ€™t blame them.Â If, as the party of small government and freedom, we wonâ€™t even stand up on this blatant of a â€œBig Brotherâ€ issue, then the jig is up.
The reason why the Libertarian coalition is so crucial is perhaps even more interesting.Â First and foremost you have the stubborn friction between the traditional voting blocs Republicans rely on to win elections and the current electorate.Â The largest single coalition in the Party is the religious-wing (in a society that is, for whatever reasons, growing more liberal on social issues), and the fastest growing new members of the electorate by a landslide are Hispanic voters (which we consistently lose by 30+ points).Â This is of course added to the fact that Republicans routinely lose the women vote by close to double digits (and they have voted in a greater number than men in every Presidential election since the 1980â€™s).
In pointing these things out I am in no way saying that these differences and pitfalls canâ€™t be mitigated by the Republican Party, and am certainly not taking a position here on which coalitions should or shouldnâ€™t prevail.Â The point I make is that because of these problematic dynamics for the Republican Partyâ€”a clear majority of the pragmatic Libertarian vote is absolutely essential going forward.Â In terms of the â€œgoing forwardâ€, Libertarians are by and large younger Americans that will be voting for generations (a segment of the youth vote Republicans could actually win), as well as the fact that Libertarian leanings, by nature, will grow larger the larger our government itself grows.
Tying It All Together
To be clear, this is not to say that Republicans would ever run on legalized prostitution or drugs, but it is to say that not standing up against something as symbolic of government overreach as traffic cameras would be a major mistake.
Both politically and on principle, fighting hard for a bill next session in the Iowa Legislature banning all automated traffic enforcement is a no-brainer.Â Not doing so would be abandoning the mantra of our Partyâ€”which is to stand for more freedom, less government intrusion, and less confiscatory power from the political class.
If as a Party we either fail to lead this charge in the first place, or do so and find a majority of Iowans donâ€™t agree with us, there will be ramifications in future elections.Â As dim as the landscape looks now for Republicans itâ€™s hard to imagine how much uglier it could get…but I know it would be much worse than $110 ticket in your mailbox.
Dave Edwards is the Republican candidate for Iowa Senate District 16, the vast majority of which covers Des Moines and then swings Southeast to include Pleasant Hill.
While there is no getting around the fact that this is a Democrat stronghold (they haveÂ double the number of registered voters), if any RepublicanÂ can win this district it is most certainly Dave Edwards.Â What makes this race one of the most fascinating in the state this year is that Mr. Edwards is a blue collar, union member who is bringing the fight to Democrats on their turf.Â He is challenging an incumbent who has already been in the Iowa Senate for 18 years (and was in the Iowa House before that), and few would argue that this particular district is better off than it was two decades ago.
Besides knowing these neighborhoodsÂ well, I have seen Mr. Edwards speak on multiple occasions and can tell you first hand that his style and message will resonate.Â He has displayed courage both by stepping up to run, and by being willing to talk about illegal immigration, which is such an obvious problem that most are scared to talk about.Â Republicans who live in or near this district need to return the favor, and can do so by visiting his website (click here), and getting involved to any extent possible.
As you will see below, his answers are extremely thoughtful, spot-on, and the case he is making to traditional Democrats is very convincing.Â The age-old notions of the Republican Party that persist in this part of Des MoinesÂ certainly present a challenge, but there is no reason that a message of less government, fewer taxes, and more liberty can’t take root in districts like SD 16.
Simply put, Dave Edwards is the right candidate at the right time to be this messenger.Â Should he win, the more “buttoned-up” folks at the State House (including Republicans) would be wise to listen to him…but for now lets just hope the voters in his district are truly listening to him.
1) Being a blue collar, union member Republican running in a heavily Democratic district makes you and your race one of the most unique in the state. Briefly tell us how your campaign is going, and if you are finding folks in your district receptive to the different political solutions you are offering? If so, which ones are resonating?
The campaign is going great. I have talked to literally thousands of people over the last year or so. In my job as a union laborer, I drive a truck all around the city during the day. I have the opportunity to interact with Republicans and Democrats alike. I have grown to understand that the issues we face, we face as Iowans, and not as Democrats or Republicans. The economic hardships that are facing the people of this state are affecting us all – not just one party or the other.
I am talking to all the voters in this district when we are door knocking. Naturally, when I knock on a democratâ€™s door, they are reluctant to talk to me when they find out Iâ€™m a republican. But as we talk, they begin to see that my message is not one of partisan politics. My goal is to be the voice of the working people of this state. I want to work to make Iowa a state where business can thrive and where our citizens can earn a living wage. The legislature shouldnâ€™t be burdening the people of this state with more regulations, and definitely shouldnâ€™t be adding any new taxes, when people canâ€™t pay their bills or feed their families. These are messages that are resonating with the residents of my district.
2) As you are out door knocking and talking to voters, what are the top few issues weighing on the minds of the people in your district? And what are they saying they want done about them?
People in my district are definitely concerned about the economy and their job security. They want to be able to go to work every day, and at the end of the week, have something to show for it. My top priority as a senator will be to alleviate the tax burden on the working people and the businesses of this state.
Iowa is one of the 10 lowest-ranked states in Tax Foundationâ€™s 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index. The ranking is arrived at by looking at all the taxes levied in a state. Iowa is known for high corporate tax rates, high property taxes, high individual income tax rates and high unemployment insurance tax rates – all of which are taken into account in arriving at this poor ranking. That is a very sad state of affairs. The fact that we need to offer tax incentives to get businesses to come to this state speaks volumes about Iowaâ€™s tax climate. Letâ€™s get rid of the incentives and lower Iowaâ€™s total tax burden. If we improve the tax climate in Iowa, we create more jobs and people have more money to spend, thereby improving the quality of life for all Iowans.
Another issue on the minds of the people of my district is illegal immigration. They want the problem dealt with. I believe the existing immigration laws of this state and this nation should be enforced. The illegal workforce here is driving down wages, and placing an extraordinary burden on Iowaâ€™s social safety net . Recently, I have been sharing my belief that the illegal immigrant population in this state is being held in bondage. They are forced to take low-wage jobs with unscrupulous employers who donâ€™t care about the safety of their workers. Because of their low wages, they are forced to live in low-rent housing under sub-standard living conditions and because of their immigration status, they feel they do not have the freedom to report these conditions .This issue is pitting the working class citizens of this state against the immigrant population. But the real problem here is the governmentâ€™s failure to enforce its own laws.
3) Assuming you are victorious in November and get sworn into the Iowa Senate, what are the three votes that you most look forward to casting, and why?
I have vowed to introduce a bill on day one of the session that will outlaw traffic enforcement cameras. We have got to put a stop to government intrusion into areas where it doesnâ€™t belong, starting with traffic cameras. These cameras are an infringement of privacy and violate due-process laws. The citizens of this state have shown overwhelmingly that they are against these cameras. The fact is, they donâ€™t improve safety. They are being used as a revenue source for municipalities.
Another vote I am looking forward to casting is one in favor of across-the-board property tax reform. This will be a good starting point towards making Iowa more attractive for business and giving our economy a much-needed jump-start.
Lastly, when the republicans gain control of the senate this fall, I really look forward to the opportunity to vote for a new senate majority leader to replace Michael Gronstal!
The gaveling in of the Iowa Legislatureâ€™s 84th General Assembly last week signaled an end to the 2012 Presidential Caucus season and the return of a more local political focus for Iowans.
There is no doubt that much of the session’s oxygen will be sucked up by the major issues that failed to produce any legislation following last yearâ€™s battles. These issues include reforming the tax code, mental health services, and education, as well as another round of sparring over Iowa setting up a health insurance exchange to work in conjunction with Obama Care.
While these will grab a majority of the headlines, and a good share of our attention here at The Conservative Reader: Iowa, there have already been a number of very interesting bills introduced that we will also be following.
As of now the bills and issues outside â€œthe big 4â€ that we have flagged to watch closely are as follows: Term limits, random drug testing for recipients 84th of certain state benefits, banning red light and speed cameras, and the fate of nuclear power in Iowa.
After being deluged for so many months with candidates and their ever changing poll numbers, it is easy to forget that in many ways the caucus season is an imperfect method for measuring Iowaâ€™s current ideological perspective. Removing the factors attached to individual candidates such as â€œlikeabilityâ€ and â€œelectabilityâ€, and instead gauging the debate and the public reaction of Iowans to more hyper-local issues is a far more telling indicator of where we stand. Ironically these debates and their results likely will tip our hand as to which Presidential candidate will be awarded our 6 electoral votes in November.
In the following weeks stay tuned for investigations, updates, analysis, and opinions on the major issues being debated at the State House. As mentioned earlier, while we will not ignore the most publicized topics of debate this session, a number of bills that will exist in the shadows of the major priorities are just as important.
Though we will be closely watching with an appropriate level of skepticism, we wish all those involved with the 84th General Assembly well in their efforts to make improvements for all Iowans. When we feel they have achieved improvementâ€”we will trumpet it. When we feel they have caused damage to our way of lifeâ€”they will be called to account.
On with Democracy…