***At the end of every year we revisit some of our most popular stories from the calendar year. This column discussed the fact that Republicans have controlled Iowa government for six years. There is nothing a Democrat anywhere could do to stop anything from becoming law in Iowa for six straight years. And I discuss how one thing I’ve learned since going to the Capitol during the legislative session is that it isn’t the Democrats who are the problem in Des Moines.***
I am often asked about things I’ve either learned in my four years covering politics at the Capitol or surprises. And I have come to realize there is one big lesson I have learned over the last four years — Democrats are not the problem in Iowa.
I say that because there is nothing a single Democrat in the Iowa Legislature can do to stop something from happening. Nothing. Not a single thing.
Anything Republicans want, they can get.
Republicans have 60 votes in the Iowa House. They can lose nine and still get anything they want. They have 32 votes in the Iowa Senate. They can lose six votes and still get anything they want.
Basically, if there is anything Iowa Republicans have wanted to see pass the last five or six years in Iowa that hasn’t, it isn’t because of Democrats — it’s because of Republicans.
As I sat in Wednesday’s subcommittee meeting on Gov. Kim Reynolds’ school choice/transparency bill listening to Democrat Sen. Claire Celsi go on an anti-school choice rant, I fully realized something.
As much as I disagree with Sen. Celsi on many, many, many things — I appreciate how passionately she expresses her views. I could do without the bad body language — eye-rolling, head shaking, etc. — but I wish more Republicans had the vigor in defending their beliefs that Celsi has in defending hers.
This year more than any other, I’ve begun to question why Republicans get so upset at Democrats for doing Democrat things. I feel relatively dumb that this thought process has not dawned on me prior to 2022.
There are those in the GOP establishment who get upset when The Iowa Standard “calls out” Republicans for not doing the Republican thing. They want us to solely focus on going after Democrats.
But why? Don’t get me wrong — we still take our shots at the Democrats. But it typically is from a different perspective.
Democrats are not elected to do Republican things. Republicans are. So when Republicans don’t support Republican things, yes, we are going to chastise them.
We must begin holding Republicans to a higher standard than we hold Democrats to. Democrats do not campaign to represent Republicans. They don’t owe Republicans anything. But Republicans do.
And the reality is there is “one-party” rule in Des Moines — and has been for quite a while.
While it seems easier to focus our outrage and frustration at Democrats because they are our “natural” opponents, the reality is outrage and frustration directed toward the Democrats is misplaced and misguided.
That is because Democrats cannot stop anything Republicans want. The only people who can do that in Des Moines are Republicans.