Martin O’Malley was in Iowa this weekend as the full effects of President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from Muslim countries rippled across the nation. He added a stop between his two campaign events for Iowa House Democrats to address the ban, standing outside the Mother Mosque in Cedar Rapids, the longest-standing mosque in North America. Calling Trump’s executive order an “emperor-like edict,” O’Malley cautioned where it might lead the country.
“This is appalling conduct,” O’Malley said of the President’s actions. “It is unbecoming of the presidency and the people of the United States. Good people everywhere need to stand up and stand with our Muslim brother and sisters.”
The former Iowa Caucus contender joined State Senator Rob Hogg, State Representative Liz Bennett and Supervisor Stacey Walker in criticizing the ban.
“If you start here, there’s a potential for a snowball effect,” warned Walker. “We have seen here in America what these sorts of measures to discriminate against subgroups can lead to. We’ve fought civil rights battles over this.”
While organic protests quickly sprouted up at many international airports around the country and backlash to the ban dominated social media, most Iowa Republican leaders were noticeably quiet. There was radio silence from both Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst. Grassley had been exceptionally critical of President Barack Obama’s use of executive orders, but hasn’t yet commented on Trump’s far more impactful one.
“This presidency is going to challenge everything we learned in school about checks and balances,” O’Malley predicted. “Institutions need to stand up. Despots only succeed when public institutions are weak.”
The Muslim ban was the talk of Democratic activists at a later fundraiser for House Democrats in Cedar Rapids. As like many other recent political gatherings in Iowa, the turnout was high. Elsewhere around Iowa on Saturday, various legislative forums saw record attendance as frustrated Iowans showed up to criticize state Republicans’ legislative proposals.
Packed house for this weekend's forums in Sioux City. Biggest crowds during my time in legislature. Iowa is watching… pic.twitter.com/e48Kw8BPuU
— Rep. Chris Hall (@HallForIowa) January 28, 2017
O’Malley urged those at the Cedar Rapids event to keep up the pressure.
“In any nation’s journey there is both light and shadow,” O’Malley said, adding that he was particularly encouraged by the Women’s March he attended last week. “The sense and the feeling in the air was that we are all in this together … Maybe it took this sort of detour to remind us all that the future is something we all make.”
Earlier in the day, O’Malley visited Davenport to help Monica Kurth, the Democrat running in the special election to fill Jim Lykam’s house seat. The former Maryland governor was in town last month during Lykam’s special election for the Iowa Senate. Kurth is competing against the same Republican who ran against Lykam, and is expected to win handily on Tuesday.
by Pat Rynard