I want to set aside all the social media debates for the next few minutes and refer to Feb 1st, not in terms of a presidential caucus, but rather, as the night you became an Iowa Democrat. Honestly, I’m so excited to have you. As I’ve heard throughout the state, it sounds like our new members are passionate and have a ton of energy. Thank goodness. We need it. I need it. Clearly, you give a damn. You showed up and it was inspiring to watch.
I give a damn, too. I know many personally throughout this state whom have fought for years for the ideals we hold as liberals, as progressives, and as Democrats. It’s a title that I’m proud to have behind my name and one I hope you find pride in as well.
Now the question is, what do you do with all that energy and pride now that the cameras, the pundits, and the days of presidential candidates and their surrogates hanging out in your living room or neighborhood are over? Well, let me tell you about the Iowa House and Iowa Senate.
Right now in the Iowa House, we fight against Republican bills that tell women they can’t make their own healthcare decisions. We also are constantly working to invest in our kids and make public schools our top priority again, all while attempting to make sure young people don’t graduate from college with a mountain of debt. We do a lot of “fighting” because we are have 43 Democratic members to 57 Republicans.
Being in the minority means our priorities barley even get a hearing. We submit bills on equal pay, paid leave, affordable college, raising the minimum wage, etc. Then, the Republican chair of the Labor Committee (which is where most all of these bills go through) never even schedules a meeting to begin the conversation about why these issues matter in your life or the lives of other Iowans.
I want a chance to not only talk about these bills on the house floor, but to have you share your story with my colleagues in the Iowa House, and then see these bills passed. To get there, we need you.
The passion you showed Bernie, Hillary, or O’Malley, I beg you to show to your local State House or State Senate races. You can still be, “With Her,” but we have state candidates we need you to be with as well. You can still have a “Revolution,” but I’m telling you unless that now transitions to the state level and winning back the Iowa House and protecting the one seat Democratic advantage in the Iowa Senate in November, the only revolution we will see in this state, regardless of who wins the presidential election, will be one of cuts in education, attacks on public employees and unions, restriction of women’s health care choices, and attempts to roll back the clock on marriage equality.
There will be outdated technology, larger class sizes, and old textbooks in our public schools. The cost of higher education will continue to rise and students will be forced to take on more debt. Attacks on public employees and unions will grow and Republicans will stifle every proposal to actually grow the middle class. Women will face more restrictions on their health care choices and it’ll take decades for women to get the same pay for the same work. Not exactly how I’d like Iowa to start out 2017.
So, how do you stay involved and connected? You can start at your local county party, or if you want, contact your local Representative, Senator, or statehouse candidate directly. Talk to them and tell them what’s important to you. Ask them what you can do to make real progress on the issues you care about. Then, think about running for office some day to serve in the courthouse or statehouse. I’ll have another post on that soon, but we need people who work hard and care about our future and working families to take the jump and decide to embrace public service.
In the next few months after session winds down, I pledge to go around the state and talk to you, to sign you up to volunteer, and to encourage you to start looking at getting involved by running for office at the local level and beyond. I’m inviting any local officials to join me as well, and I already have commitments from Rep. Liz Bennett and Rep. Chris Hall. The three of us are the youngest Democrats in the Iowa Legislature.
Our stories are probably not that much different than yours, at one point, we got tired of being told it wasn’t our turn, we knew we were passionate about policies that help working families and we took action. They want to talk to you and welcome you as well and make sure you understand how much we need you and how we can work together for the future of Iowa.
Again, thank you for participating in the Iowa caucuses. Thank you for taking initiative and showing up to make sure the voice of young people is heard. Thank you for picking your candidate, but most of all, thank you for giving me hope for the future that you picked this party of progress for worker’s rights, women’s rights, equality, and fairness. Together, let’s continue the work to advance those rights for future generations.
Can’t wait to see you,
Rep. Abby Finkenauer
P.S. If you need a good laugh after this crazy week in politics and a bit of inspiration check out this 6 year old Iowa girl who can’t wait to vote and one of the great precinct chairs, John McCormally who let her voice be heard: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bENvDC2Xn0s&feature=youtu.be