A guest post from House Leader Mark Smith
As a lifetime resident of Iowa, I am proud of our state’s progressive history. We were vehemently opposed to slavery from our beginning days and we were one of the first states to call for public education for all children. We were one of the first states to allow people of color to purchase land and Arabella Manfield’s admission to the Iowa Bar in 1869 made her the first female attorney in the United States.
That’s why our motto – “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain” – has been our way of life for generations. It’s the bedrock of our Iowa values.
However, like many Iowans, I’m troubled by the continuous barrage of derogatory and malicious remarks from Donald Trump. Worse yet, I’m deeply troubled by the silence of Iowa Republican leaders when Trump takes concerted swipes at our Iowa values.
When Trump attacked a Gold Star family, Senator Joni Ernst and Congressman David Young refused to criticize Trump. When Governor Branstad was asked whether Trump should at least apologize, he said, “I’m not going to get into that.” In another instance, Trump compared his “sacrifices” as a businessman to those of parents whose son was killed in war. Iowa Republican leaders just ignored it.
In the last month alone, Trump recommended alienating our NATO allies and he said President Obama is the founder of ISIS while investigations have exposed the Trump campaign’s deep ties to Russia and Putin. Instead of calling him out and joining Republican experts on national security disavowing Trump, Senator Ernst and Republicans simply ignored it all. Ernst even doubled down on Trump just a few days later and praised his virtues on national security in an interview.
Governor Branstad, when Trump said he believes women who are sexually harassed at work should “find another career,” do you agree with him? When Trump is demeaning to women, refers to a female journalist as a “bimbo,” or says breastfeeding is “disgusting,” do you think that’s ok? How do you explain those comments to your own grandkids?
Earlier this summer, Trump said a U.S. born judge couldn’t be impartial because of his “Mexican heritage.” Senator Grassley, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, simply dismissed his comments. When Trump joked about the assassination of his opponent and called for violence against protesters, Grassley said nothing.
There’s no irony in the fact that Trump revamped his campaign team last week with a man who has ties to the white supremacist movement the same week Branstad and other key Iowa Republican leaders were tapped to serve on an advisory board for Trump’s campaign. Branstad’s son is even running Trump’s Iowa campaign.
And the list goes on and on and on.
Why aren’t Iowa Republican leaders doing what other Republicans are doing across the country and denouncing Donald Trump? Former First Lady Barbara Bush has said she doesn’t see why any woman should vote for Donald Trump. Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine has joined the chorus of Republican leaders in other states who are not supporting their party’s nominee. Even former GOP presidential candidate Senator John McCain has denounced Trump’s disparaging remarks.
Governor Branstad, Senator Ernst, and the other Iowa Republican leaders might think silence is their best hope for victory in November. Or maybe they’re afraid of standing up to Trump. Or maybe they actually agree with him.
Whatever their rationale for embracing Trump, Iowa Republican leaders have already made a clear choice.
If you’ve been an elected official since 1959 but still can’t denounce racism from a presidential candidate, you’ve gone Trump. If you can simply brush off demeaning sexist remarks because party comes first, you’ve gone Trump. If you chose to ignore Trump’s threats and dangerous ideas on national security but still think he has the temperament to hold the codes to nuclear weapons, you’ve gone Trump.
During times of uncertainty and turmoil, I like to look back on the words of Dr. Martin Luther King because his words still ring true today. “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
The next time Trump says or does something outrageous contrary to our Iowa values, don’t expect anything but silence from Branstad, Grassley, Ernst and other Iowa Republican leaders.
They’ve already gone Trump.
by Mark Smith