Parallel messaging gave GOP Statehouse control

Parallel messaging gave GOP Statehouse control

Gazette Column
Have casual conversations with Iowans and a pattern emerges of the ways the national 2016 election narrative did and did not apply to the Statehouse. Since November I’ve been quietly talking to people around Iowa. I’ve reached out to farmers and small town residents I met during research on rural communities, as well as urban dwellers I met through discussions on public transit and affordable housing. As a general rule these aren’t folks who’d be labeled as political activists. That is, they vote, but don’t shake signs outside Congressional offices or hold court with the county central committee. They live in the present, focused on taking their kids to activities, worried about their mortgage and expending energy on careers or higher education. Nearly all political nuance is lost on them.…
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Cedar Rapids women discuss why they’ll march

Cedar Rapids women discuss why they’ll march

Gazette Column
Trio will be among thousands participating in Women's March on Washington Calling these three Cedar Rapids women who will be part of the Women’s March on Washington “precious snowflakes” is a waste of time. The “snowflake” moniker, derived from the 1996 novel “Fight Club” and typically used to describe college students perceived as over-protected and too easily offended, was widely co-opted by supporters of President-elect Donald Trump to describe and dismiss those who showed somber emotions or actively demonstrated in the wake of the presidential election. It’s been so frequently used on social media in connection to the women marching on Jan. 21 that it’s effectively shorthand for demonstration participants. But when I asked Marilyn Davenport, Denise Mineck and Velga Easker what they would say to those that attempt to…
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Still a lot of work to do

Still a lot of work to do

Gazette Column
Throughout the community one question seems to dominate personal interaction: “How are you feeling?” I’ve been asked by people I see each day and those I only have occasional opportunity to speak with. Convenience store clerks, local members of the clergy, co-workers, neighbors, transit riders and drivers and community activists of all stripes are curious, some perhaps morbidly so, on my and their other neighbors’ state of mind. So, how are you feeling in these first post-election days? I am, of course, disappointed that the nation has not finally elected a woman to its highest office. I’m especially concerned by the years of misinformation and sexism that led to undeserved backlash against Hillary Clinton, and a campaign with an overall anti-women tone. More than shock at Donald Trump’s public disrespect…
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Break free from personality politics

Break free from personality politics

Gazette Column
When I made the first trips south to visit family and friends after moving to Iowa, diminishment of my homespun accent drew the most curiosity and confusion. “What did you say?” one of my sisters, a Texas resident, asked, repeating the word “garden” with an exaggerated and distinctly East Coast soft “A” (gah-din) to mimic what she heard. “Y’all sound like damn Yankees.” [caption id="attachment_164" align="alignright" width="300"] Demonstrators are seen in silhouette, marching through Times Square in New York November 25, 2014. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)[/caption] Although said in jest, the assessment was not a compliment. It was the first acknowledgment that I was changing, becoming more “other” than “same,” and a precursor to subsequent political discussions. One brother, in particular, is especially vocal about his right-leaning political view. After returning home…
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Mike Pence did what he had to do

Mike Pence did what he had to do

Gazette Column
Do not blame Mike Pence. In this week’s vice presidential debate Pence did the only thing he could. Wisconsin radio personality Charlie Sykes said it best when he described the logical outcome of years of attacks on the news media to Oliver Darcy, politics editor at Business Insider. “We’ve basically eliminated any of the referees, the gatekeepers,” he said, adding that now when Donald Trump says something outrageous and patently false, he’s expected to fall in line or be labeled a sellout. This is a “monster” created by conservatives, who are now “reaping the whirlwind.” “At a certain point, you wake up and you realize you have destroyed the credibility of any credible outlet out there,” Sykes said. And, no, Sykes hasn’t gone full tilt. His statements weren’t intended to…
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Iowa families need more than platitudes, campaign rhetoric

Iowa families need more than platitudes, campaign rhetoric

Gazette Column
Some Iowa lawmakers and elected officials gathered on the steps of the Capital this week to be disingenuous. [caption id="attachment_156" align="alignright" width="640"] The State Capitol Building in Des Moines. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)[/caption] It’s difficult to find good news in this election cycle, but this past week offered an exception. Both Democratic and Republican presidential nominees have rolled out their proposals for paid family medical leave. I’ll leave it to readers to research the ins-and-outs of the proposals by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The big news is the conversation about family medical leave is in the headlines again, and that’s due in large part to the number of women who have advocated on behalf of this issue. It’s good that we are talking, because this is an issue that’s been…
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‘Fab Five’ shows Corridor’s 2016 battleground status

‘Fab Five’ shows Corridor’s 2016 battleground status

Gazette Column
Iowa Democrats have their eyes on the Corridor, and are betting on the rise of the “Fab Five.” With a majority of races up and down the ballot mostly set, Democrats gathered in Marion Thursday night to preview the 2016 coordinated campaign with an initiative led by Hillary Clinton’s state team, “Iowa Women Win.” The focus is, of course, on the fact that two women — Hillary Clinton and Patty Judge — earned the Democratic Party’s nomination in races at the top of statewide ballot for the first time in Iowa history. The “amazing women of Iowa’s past, present and future” is a theme the campaign hopes will energize those drawn by the historic nature of Clinton’s candidacy as well as those who have been turned off by Republican nominee…
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Despite Clinton accomplishment, women haven’t made it yet

Despite Clinton accomplishment, women haven’t made it yet

Gazette Column
PHILADELPHIA — Maybe it can all be chalked up to a lack of foresight by Democratic National Convention organizers. On Wednesday, the morning after Hillary Clinton became the first woman ever nominated for the presidency by a major political party, many newspaper readers across the country either didn’t see the news on their front page or saw headlines about history-making alongside a photograph of former President Bill Clinton. The latter was sadly what greeted readers of this newspaper. I get the constraints and preferences of the news business. Things have to be ready by a certain time, and editors want fresh photos to run with the news. The keynote speaker at the DNC Tuesday night was Bill Clinton, with Hillary appearing only via satellite. So, in this case, the news…
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In Philly ‘the Bern’ rubs raw

In Philly ‘the Bern’ rubs raw

Featured, Gazette Column
PHILADELPHIA — Democracy can’t help but be noisy and messy. Monday night it took a nose-dive into ugly. There has been no escape from supporters of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign for those attending the Democratic National Convention. Delegates came to cast their vote for their chosen candidate, regardless of projections for the final count. Others are here to march and demonstrate, and have repeatedly owned the streets. Most of all, they’ve come to be heard, and media voices like my own have amplified their messages of frustration, and calls for income equity. [caption id="attachment_476" align="alignright" width="300"] Supporters of Bernie Sanders gathered near Philadelphia City Hall during the Democratic National Convention. (Lynda Waddington/The Gazette)[/caption] A somewhat disjointed, massive march was held Sunday. It began with a banner demanding an end to…
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Iowa DNC delegation focused, looking ahead

Iowa DNC delegation focused, looking ahead

Gazette Column
PHILADELPHIA — There’s a good chance you’ve already heard about the dust-up surrounding the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Members of the Iowa Delegation are tuned in, curious and concerned about how the resignation of U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as DNC chairwoman and the email controversy behind it will impact the convention and upcoming general election. Many are dreading more distracting spectacles, such as the rowdy scene Monday morning when Wasserman Schultz addressed members of the Florida delegation only to have the breakfast meeting overrun with protesters. Few in Philadelphia believe Wasserman Schultz acted in good faith, some believe she worked purposefully to diminish U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential aspirations. No one I’ve spoken with believes she should continue to lead the DNC. But behind the cable news buzz and…
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