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How often do constituents complain about their legislators?

If we’re honest, it’s quite often.

How often do constituents thank their legislators?

If we’re honest, not as much as we should.

The 2020 legislative session isn’t over yet, technically. But the overwhelming majority of it is. And before I forget, I want to share this with The Iowa Standard’s readers.

Elected officials are public servants, yes. But elected officials are also human beings.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with holding them to standards, perhaps standards slightly higher than the average person is held. After all, they are leaders.

Prior to covering the system at the Capitol, I would often get frustrated with legislators. Now knowing the process, for better or worse, it makes so much more sense.

That doesn’t make the cause of the frustration OK, but understanding the how and the why good bills, bills that represent the GOP platform fail to advance, provides an entirely different point of view.

I’m going to break some news right now — not all Republicans are really Republicans. I mean, they may say they’re Republicans and run as Republicans and win as Republicans, but not all Republicans share the same core beliefs and values, despite the existence of a party platform.

Unfortunately, principles don’t mean as much as power to all Republicans either. So these “moderate” Republicans are provided plenty of cover because, “Hey, we need the numbers.”

This is rightfully upsetting.

We have no problem bringing to light the “bad” things Democrats do and say. That is easy. That’s low-hanging fruit. That stuff typically gets clicks for a few days and helps boost traffic.

However, The Iowa Standard is unlike some other “conservative” “news” outlets from the fields of Iowa that only ever report positively on Republicans and the Republican Party of Iowa.

We have no problem highlighting the “bad” things done and said by Republicans.

See, if we don’t hold our own to the same standards we hold Democrats, then we’re hypocrites. And if we’re being honest, our standards for ourselves should be much higher than the standards we place on Democrats.

Let’s define that term — “bad.”

For conservatives, a Democrat doing something “bad” or saying something “bad” is actually a Democrat just doing or saying what Democrats are supposed to do and say, right? I mean, if politics were a “game,” Democrats would be “the other team.”

So naturally, there’s going to be far more “bad” things said and done by Democrats simply because it is an entirely different worldview.

But when Republicans do “bad” things or say “bad” things, these are NOT Republican things.

The Iowa Standard has criticized Republicans for acting in ways that are not Republican and espousing ideas or principles that are not rooted in the principles of the Republican Party.

It is hard to envision The Iowa Standard ever criticizing a Republican for doing the Republican thing.

See, in this day in age where everyone complains about media bias, plenty of people really just mean they don’t want media to pick on their party.

It is situational ethics. And it is plaguing our country in more ways than you can imagine!

Is The Iowa Standard a “Republican” website or a “conservative” news source? Yes. We have never ever pretended to be anything else. But that does not preclude us from giving a fair shake to the other side and it definitely doesn’t stop us from holding Republicans accountable.

In fact, we thrive on that.

You won’t find a lot of media outlets like that out there.

However, if you fail to “police your own” and are simply serving as the propaganda arm of the Republican Party of Iowa, your credibility will be short-lived and you will be viewed just like MSNBC, except a Republican version of it. You will never advance your cause. You will never be taken seriously by anyone who doesn’t already agree with you.

I have said it many times — the wrong Republican is more of a liability than a Democrat. You can challenge a Democrat every time they are up for re-election. But once the wrong Republican is elected, it could be 6, 8, 10, 12, 20 years or more before another Republican gets a credible shot at the position.

And think about it. If Republicans control the House, the Senate and Terrace Hill, having one or two more Democrats instead of one or two wrong Republicans should have little to no impact on anything.

Recognize that there is no perfect legislator. That’s because they’re all human.

And recognize that you won’t agree with any legislator on every issue. It’s simply impossible.

But if you’re someone who hopes to be respected and hopes to have your opinion valued, make sure you are someone who gives credit when it is due. Especially if you’re someone who levels criticism when it is due.

The Iowa Standard is going to issue “Legislative Excellence Awards” in the coming days, weeks and months to legislators who we believe stood out during the 2020 session. It may be a speech on the floor, a talk in committee, a point in subcommittee, a bill sponsored or their overall work.

If we’re going to criticize legislators, then we also have to be willing to compliment them when it is deserved.

Our representatives and senators in Des Moines don’t make much money. Honestly, they should get a pay raise. And like you, they get frustrated at times with the process or with their colleagues as well. But unlike you, they have to maintain their relationships in order to accomplish things. So they can’t vent. They can’t criticize.

And when they’re hounded for why a constituent’s biggest priority isn’t advancing this session, often it isn’t because of anything they did or didn’t do — it’s just a victim of where the caucus is — or isn’t.

So, if you believe your legislator deserves to be recognized for legislative excellence, let us know. Email us at newsdesk@theiowastandard.com.

In closing, keep holding your legislators accountable. But don’t forget to pat them on the back when they deserve it.

Perhaps if Republicans are more congratulatory to our leaders when they do something right, it will inspire others to follow and get more of the “right” things accomplished.

 

Jacob Hall

Author: Jacob Hall