Every once in a while I am asked when I’ll run for political office. I always say the same thing — I have no desire.
Because right now as I write for The Iowa Standard I have one sole singular purpose — to look out for the best interest of Iowans and their rights.
I do not have to worry about being re-elected. I do not have to worry about protecting fellow Republicans. I do not have to worry about offending the Speaker of the House, the Governor or the Senate Majority Leader. I definitely do not have to worry about big checks coming from big business donors.
In short — I don’t have to worry about politics, I can focus on right and wrong. I don’t have to weigh the risks or make political calculations.
There are some legislators who do not worry about those things either and stand up and speak out regardless of what others may prefer or want. There are some legislators genuinely driven by what is right and what is wrong.
But there aren’t 51 in the Iowa House or 26 in the Iowa Senate.
If there were, Iowans would have woken up with protection from employer vaccine mandates on Wednesday.
They did not.
So far all that is offered from leaders — Gov. Kim Reynolds and legislative leaders — is finger-pointing. Reynolds could provide temporary relief with an executive order. But she hasn’t. She could call the legislature in for a special session specifically dealing with the issue, but she hasn’t.
The legislature could have prevented this back in the spring when it crafted its COVID vaccine passport legislation, but it didn’t. After months of seeing and hearing stories of Iowans being forced to choose — their medical freedom or their livelihood — the legislature could have done something Tuesday to stop it. It did not.
Look, I’m not naive to the process. I understand it takes 51 votes in the House and 26 votes in the Senate to get something done.
But I’m also not inhumane. I receive emails every day from Iowans facing this choice — receive an injection or lose their job. They wake up with this worry every morning. They go to sleep carrying this burden every night.
And deadlines are rapidly approaching.
Some have already chosen to quit. Others are waiting to be fired. Still, others have had to share personal details about their health history or religious beliefs in order to simply maintain their bodily autonomy.
I do not understand why neither Reynolds nor the legislature has taken action on this. It is an assault on individual rights and liberty.
To my knowledge, the state motto on our flag reads “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain” with a period following — not a question mark.
But for thousands of workers in Iowa, it is a question — will their liberties be prized and rights maintained? Reynolds and legislators have yet to answer that question.
And time is of the essence.
Perhaps this is not personal enough for enough legislators. But it is the everyday reality for thousands of Iowans. And right now, those Iowans are being ignored.
Is an executive order a perfect solution? No. But it could provide temporary relief.
On Wednesday, Reynolds said as governor of Iowa the health and safety of Iowans is her number one priority.
Where does protecting an individual’s right to make decisions about their health and safety rank on the list?
This is not a new problem. If we’re being honest, most of us saw this coming back in April and May. It has now dwarfed into a huge problem and it requires an all-hands-on-deck response.
While Reynolds blames the legislature for inaction and some legislators point the finger at Reynolds, Iowans are ignored in the process. Stuck in the middle losing sleep, losing their rights and losing their jobs.
Something needed to be done in May. Something needed to be done Tuesday.
But nothing has been done.
There are some Republican lawmakers who are doing everything they can to address this. But again, there aren’t 51 in the House and 26 in the Senate.
Where does responsibility lie on this?
Simple — leadership.
Whether that leadership is Gov. Reynolds, Speaker Pat Grassley or Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver — it comes down to leadership.
Reynolds can literally act unilaterally to fix it temporarily with an executive order. Grassley and Whitver can get legislation to the floor for a vote. They can’t make any legislator vote for or against a bill, but they can let Iowans know which legislators are standing against them.
In the meantime, it is Iowans who are hurt, stressed and ignored.