Senator Mark Chelgren Aims To Purge Democrats From Iowa Universities

The party affiliation on your voter registration card could block you from employment at Iowa’s state universities were a newly proposed bill by Senator Mark Chelgren to become law. Senate File 288, proposed by the Ottumwa legislator, could bring about a Soviet-style purge of liberal-leaning college staff in Iowa. Chelgren wants to impose an ideological litmus test in order to create a “partisan balance,” based on how Iowa has voted in past elections.

The legislation proposes that a “person shall not be hired as a professor or instructor member of the faculty at such an institution if the person’s political party affiliation on the date of hire would cause the percentage of faculty belonging to one political party to exceed by ten percent the percentage of faculty belonging to the other political party.”

The Secretary of State’s office would be directed to provide voter registration lists to the colleges so that new job applicants’ party affiliation could be checked before the hiring process gets underway. Graciously, Chelgren allows for people registered as No Party to slip through the process without facing the litmus test.

The obvious impact and purpose of this bill would be to ban Democrats from getting hired anymore at Iowa colleges. If you took a survey right now, it’s highly likely that Iowa professors are registered as Democrats at a much higher rate than Republican. So any new hires would be strictly limited to Republican or No Party voters.

Obviously there’s all manner of logistical problems with this idea, not the least among them is that people would simply change their voter registration party to improve their chances of getting a job. There’s also the situation where your official party registration doesn’t always reflect your actual allegiance. Many Republicans in Johnson County will vote in Democratic primaries for local offices because the only real competition is between several Democrats, and vice versa in many Republican counties.

And party affiliation on your voter card rarely translates to activism or outspokenness in the classroom. What good would it do to ban a highly qualified physics professor applicant simply because they’re registered as a Democrat?

Not to mention that many of the faculty hired at Iowa’s universities come from out of state. Is Chelgren going to pull voter lists from every state in the country (and some states don’t even have party registration)?

The most disturbing aspect of Chelgren’s legislation, however, is that it is outright fascist. Republicans haven’t even spent two full months in power at the Iowa Statehouse and they’re already trying to impose a one-party rule in the state in perpetuity. You’re a registered Democrat? You’re banned from getting a job.

Iowa’s universities are supposed to be a place of open expression and discussion of ideas, some of which politicians in Des Moines may not agree with. Chelgren wants to stifle that culture and impose his own partisan ideology by force and threatening people’s jobs.

It’s one more step in the Republican Party’s march away from very basic democratic ideals of the United States. Maybe Chelgren should actually open up and read that little U.S. Constitution pamphlet that he loves to wave around on the Senate floor during debate. Because these days he’s sounding a lot more like a Soviet dictator than an actual American.


by Pat Rynard
Posted 2/20/17

106 Comments on "Senator Mark Chelgren Aims To Purge Democrats From Iowa Universities"

    • Russia now uses the Soviet national anthem. I was thinking more of [i]Dixie[/i]. Oh yes — and make the Confederate flag of slaveholders and the fascistic KKK the national flag.

      The Right wants to use the colleges and universities to brainwash young adults in an ideology that holds that no human suffering is in excess so long as economic elites get whatever they want, which of course is more, and more, and ever more; that people exist solely to serve a Master Class responsible only to itself.

      Academic freedom is not sufficient for high-quality education, but it is certainly necessary. It is not the responsibility of educators to brainwash students to fit some prescribed ideology except in dictatorial and despotic orders.

      We have a political steamroller destroying and corrupting one democratic institution at a time. It’s willing to corrupt one state at a time. Yesterday it may have been Kansas; today it is Iowa; tomorrow it is Michigan; the next day it is Connecticut.

      It won’t stop until America has its own KZ-Lager, Gulag, or even Killing Fields. America will be the sort of country, like Imperial Russia or the Soviet Union, in which citizenship is worthless because it is responsibilities without rights.

      • The left already does brainwashes the masses! Spreading marxist ideals to college students everywhere!! Limiting the spread of socialism and marxist views in college is exactly what needs to happen!! The 8 steps of socialism are already being played out!! Get over yourself! We voted against people like you because we are sick of the segregation and hate being forced upon the world! We want whats fair for everyone and not to continue this cancerous way of thinking!!

        • There is so much hysteria in your post, I hardly know where to begin. So I will limit myself to your use of the phrase “what’s fair for everyone”. What is fair for everyone is that they are not told what to think, but that each person is exposed to lots of different ideas and then has to think critically for him or herself. If you cannot agree that university is where you are expected to think critically and defend your perspective based on reason and evidence, then you did not go to a university. Even junior and senior students in high school have to demonstrate critical thinking to earn grades sufficient to go to college. Marxism? So why did you vote for someone guided by a self-identified Leninist, if that’s your concern?

          • *there are

            Anyway, you didn’t vote against segregation and hate, you voted for it. With any luck, this little experiment with Trump will be one more nail in the coffin of the absurdity that American conservatism has become.

        • You gotta ask yourself this, Jasen. How did this happen? Did they take over while you were watching TV? There is nothing in faculty applications or interviews that falls outside the examination of your credentials to teach a subject and your experience doing so. Politics is out of bounds. I suspect the reason teaching, and journalism for that matter, attracts so many liberals is that generally they are very curious about the world and open minded by nature as opposed to ideological and incurious. Just a hypothesis, if you know what I mean.

        • Oh please. I clocked a lot of years in higher ed and heard lots of both right and left viewpoints (as you should because it’s college, duh!) and never once was I graded on which ideology I embraced, only on how well I understood the material. My guess is either you never went to college (nothing wrong w/that, but then your opinions don’t hold much weight) or you didn’t understand much while you were there.

          • He didn’t complete his bachelors and claims his masters was from Sizzler u. He should be fired. Anyone who lies on a job application is, why is this idiot any different?

        • Why! Do you have to finish your sentences! With an exclamation point! Could it be! That you have no idea what you are talking about!? And only operate on your base! Emotions?!

        • Nobody brainwashes anybody. Learning about new ideas is what college is about. Limiting what views can be taught is fascism. I have 2 degrees (BS and MA), 2 majors and 4 minors. I have studied both sides. I wasn’t brainwashed into learning that science is real. It was PROVEN to me! You voted for this loser. That doesn’t mean you control everything. Just the politics for the next 4 years. We will fight you tooth and nail if you try to make this into a fascist state.

        • I have a PhD and I come from that world. What do you know about it? It’s not rocket science that the faculty is hired for their expertise. Not for some corny goofball criterion like political. His idea is that it doesn’t matter if your son learns to be an electrical engineer as long he votes conservative. Would you entrust your life and the lives of those you love in the hands of someone who doesn’t know anything, but has the right politics? Oops, I guess I guess Iowans have already done that.
          PS I was born and raised in Omaha. I always thought Iowans were smarter than this.

        • Jasen, so Republican teachers DON’T brain wash students? Your blindness to your own ridiculous conclusions is comical.

        • The steps of a dictatorship are playing out by your 45 daily, yet you STILL think there’s some socialist coup on the rise? Too funny.

    • Because the Soviet Communist party had a rule allowing other parties to comprise 55% of the Politburo?

      Is math hard?
      Are you an example of an Iowa degree ?
      If so, this bill should be passed as an emergency measure.

  • This is the illustrious organization where this clown supposedly earned a degree.
    He obviously is a fraud.
    Forbco Management Corp
    Private Company
    Company Profile
    Sector: Consumer Discretionary
    Industry: Gaming, Lodging & Restaurants
    Sub-Industry: Restaurants
    Forbco Management Corporation was founded in 1972. The company’s line of business includes the retail sale of prepared foods and drinks for on-premise consumption.

    • Grateful he got busted by NBC for his WHOPPER of a LIE about his college degree. His offered explanation….
      “oh a certificate is not a diploma??” Really, did he really say that???
      How embarrassing for Iowa to have the USA know he was elected into state office. Makes Iowa sound like a inbred dumb backwater…not the progressive, cultured, educated,fiscally conservation state I came to know and love.

  • In addition to the points you made, there is a “little” issue with discimination based upon political beliefs ….

    The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA) contains a number of prohibitions, known as prohibited personnel practices, which are designed to promote overall fairness in federal personnel actions. 5 U.S.C. 2302. The CSRA prohibits any employee who has authority to take certain personnel actions from discriminating for or against employees or applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age or disability. It also provides that certain personnel actions can not be based on attributes or conduct that do not adversely affect employee performance, such as marital status and political affiliation. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has interpreted the prohibition of discrimination based on conduct to include discrimination based on sexual orientation. The CSRA also prohibits reprisal against federal employees or applicants for whistle-blowing, or for exercising an appeal, complaint, or grievance right. The CSRA is enforced by both the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

  • Nowadays, the bigger the Bozo and the more warped his ideas, the more likely they are to gain traction. Don’t believe for a second that this ridiculous proposal has no chance of passing.

  • I know! Make sure all new hires are non-citizens, then you don’t have to worry about how they vote and you can get rid of then anytime you want to by adding their country of origin to the banned list.

  • Are they sending up a bunch of trial balloons to distract us from their more devious wish-list? They are accomplishing so much, and we seem to be blind-sided. My guess is IPERS is next.

    • Yes, his district has counties that have set or are in the process of setting the minimum wage at 10 an hour. The HF 295 will block that and recide.

    • Absolutely. Look at the disastrous cabinet appointments/EO’s that crawled through a back door every time Trump has a mortifying hissy fit, and people start debating. We need to watch out for the incoming missiles, because he’s barely gotten started.

  • I used to live in Iowa and have been planning to retire there. I’m stunned! Is this REAL? I may move back just to fight this kind of narrow-minded idiocy.

  • These Republican asshats are really starting to get on my nerves. What this clown proposes is a clear violation of everything our democracy stands for. Iowans, please initiate a recall to remove this pathetic cockroach.

      • Technically, we are a democratic republic. Democratic because of universal suffrage and allegiance to freedom. Republic because we elect representatives to operate the government rather that doing it directly.

      • Not true. We are technically a constitutional democratic republic. If you don’t know what that means – look it up and learn something! Your argument is lame, old, and inaccurate, but it has been spread by the right wing media to try to shut people up. Not working, because educated people see right through it.

  • How is this not only illegal but unConstitutional at the state AND Federal level as well? When did Iowa become an official one-party state? Next, to get any job, one must be a “member of the Party”? Chelgren (he doesn’t deserve the honorific of “Senator”) and the rest of these RWNJ legislators we somehow find ourselves saddled with MUST go!

  • Does he not think that should this obviously unconstitutional bill somehow become (and stay) law, that currently employed professors would not be clever enough to re-register as Republican or No Party? He needs to find something more useful to do with his time.

    • So Iowa professors are dishonest by default?
      Lawmakers should just assume they will lie?

      Well, Iowa faculty are most Democrats, so….

      Good point.

      As far as I know, political affiliation isn’t a protected class in our Constitution.
      With regard to freedom of association, party affiliation isn’t any different from union affiliation. And Democrats love forcing people to join unions.

  • The fascist flower is in full bloom now. At first we were only debating the New Deal, now they’re moving into full beer-hall putsch tactics to eliminate free speech, an independent judiciary and checks and balances. Keep focus on the last line of defense – 2018 midterms – to stop the gerrymandering in 2020. Any suggestions on state Democratic candidates to support with donations against this clown?

  • All publicity is good publicity. The more we remark on dumb ideas, the more dumb ideas will proliferate as a way of getting name recognition.

    • And Republicans love free market unfettered capitalism…until the 1% gobble up everyone’s piece of the pie. Wake up! The country you supposedly love is being stolen right out in front of you. And not by the Democrats you so love to vilify; it’s being stolen by the billionaires who supposedly had the working man’s back. How’s that “drain the swamp” promise working out for you so far??

  • He is another one bought and paid in full by Koch brothers. He represents me but certain does not represent me at all. Didn’t even respond to my emails or calls. My new motto: Time to clean (house) in 2018!

  • Two questions:
    1)Will faculty be required to wear brown shirts and
    2)Will book burnings be mandatory attendance or optional?

    • Don’t you black shirts, ski masks and storm trooper boots like their comrades at Berkley?
      Every time a window was broken, a Molotov cocktail thrown, a conservative beaten bloody, Democrats and liberals cheered, marching arm in arm with their beloved black shirt brethren.

      Ever notice this never happens at GOP rallies?

  • Do everything legally you can do to get him out of office. That means working for positive change and having strong, electable candidates who act on beliefs of a well-balanced government. Fear-mongering like this will get him lots of publicity. Be all the great values he does not represent. Be the model citizens for our children to look up to. Get active and vote. Listen to those who voted for him, really listen and help them move past their fear.

  • Why is this any different than racial or gender quotes? If quotas for one thing can be forced, why not quotas for another. Mind you I am against all quotes, but liberals getting mad at this when they impose their own kind of quotas is damned hypocritical.

    • it is not quotas. parties are ‘freedom of association’ which is a protected right in the constitution. you can discriminate against it, but then you run up against freedom of speech, which if it is political speech is sacrosanct in the constitution, and thus this… will fail and you will be on the hook for major damages and fees. I will tell you one thing I’ve learned is fairly true… elect stupid people …. pay more taxes.

    • Because you can’t help being black or female. Obvs Warner Todd Huston. Any more than you can help having three surnames for names.

  • Oh no, whatever will liberals do if they don’t have 98% of all positions in higher education? It only takes a couple of normal people mixed in for the truth to leak out!

    • I imagine they might hold 98% of those positions. But where will we find a Republican with a valid college degree? There are not enough to fill a University faculty.

  • If you read the Bill, this is an attempt to be inclusive of alternate ideas. Far too often Higher Education is an alt-left bastion, where the left and Democrats are bullies toward anyone of different opinion; be those other educators or students. The column author, Pat Rynard and previous comments illustrate how the left will attack any attempt to bring balance or conservative ideas into the realms of civil discourse or education. This Bill introduces a good idea to bring political balance into Education.

    • it is an attempt, very clearly to limit. a. free speech, a protected right and b. association, a protected right. both certified in the constitution. Needless to say both have been tested on these lines, and this would be overturned in short order. Please, please go by an 8th grade civics textbook before you post nonsense.

    • Let dems or cons apply for the job and let the best person get the job, irrespective of their political views. Which to date have never been asked for in the recruitment/appointment process and neither ever should be. Are you serious or delirious?

  • This is ridiculous. Science, truth, logic, and data do not have a political affiliation. As educators, there main job is to ignore their political beliefs and teach the most logical, supported, data driven facts and views. It isn’t their fault conservative views continually are shown to be illogical or don’t get the results they claim. Just as an example, trickle down economics have been shown to be awful way of creating long term, sustainable, equitable growth, but because it goes against conservative views, they right anyone who points that out as some brain washed leftist. You are literally a fascist personality cult now. You really do want to become Russia, don’t you. Americans, yeah right!

    • Yes, the National Socialists would allow a majority of Communists to run the government, right?

      If you’re an example of the Iowa higher education graduates, then something needs to be done immediately.

  • simply fails constitutional checks, it will be struck down if tested probably to the tune of 2-20 million tax dollars. you elected the person that proposed this… maybe unelect him on the basis of not knowing 8th grade civics.

  • This will be nearly impossible to enforce – Republicans barely have a GED, much less an advanced degree. Unless the bill also allows for a middle school graduate to teach college classes, I see little chance for success.

  • So obama and the irs can target conservatives and thats ok, now that the shoe is on the other foot you all can bare it!! You all have been misinformed and your blindness grows daily with uour ugly nasty posts!!!

  • We have universities that have these kinds of edicts they are religious and/or private. Some of you need to take a look at the constitution (or hire someone to read it to you)–what you are proposing is not allowed in this country. Check with Putin, I’m pretty sure they have all kinds of limitations like these.

  • Democrats love quotas to ensure diversity, so what’s the problem?

    Academia already enforces an ideological litmus test, if you are an out of the closet conservative or show insufficient fervor for Leftist causes you are frozen out.

  • This is almost certainly an illegal form of discrimination. But it also misunderstands the conditions at work here. Republicans don’t pursue doctoral degrees in nearly the same numbers. You can seek to explain that however you want. It’s not that professors insist that students hold a particular view. It’s that they require them to learn and understand perspectives different from their own. And not just obviously political-ideological ones but philosophical, scientific, cultural, social scientific and so on. I think it is the idea that one should try to understand, accept, and engage with people who have different views that is so antithetical to many conservatives. I think that’s why so few conservatives pursue phds. Being a professor means having your views regularly questioned by colleagues and students. It strikes me that conservatives prefer a more authoritarian stance where those who disagree are labeled enemies of the people.

  • Nazi tactics, as when Jewish professors, many including Husserl, and the Frankfurt School. As a student I would never have learned anything if UI had a rule for “ideological detente”. Yes I am an alum. I can’t think of actions that would turn me off more from supporting the University. Unconstitutional, and we ought to ask what the goal is? Domination Theology realized? AAUP should censure if it becomes law, and accreditations should be questioned. Rather than building infrastructure, this anti-intellectualism tears down our knowledge generation infrastructure. It is just plain wrong-headed to eliminate tenure and to try to police professors’ thoughts.

  • Senator should read up on how ideology in the Soviet Union supported Lysenko, destroyed agriculture and caused famine. The ignorance of history!

  • Just think of this as another form of affirmative action, it promotes intellectual diversity in the university. Something all you lefties should want. After all, you have forced it on the workplace. So if someone who might be slightly more qualified doesn’t get a job, that’s okay, remember, its in the name of diversity.

  • This is so clearly unconstitutional as to be funny. For those who do not comprehend why, I suggest you Google “viewpoint discrimination” and then report back.

    That damned Madison and his First Amendment!

  • I’m glad to see that Republicans have finally embraced affirmative action. However, since they seem to hold majorities in most branches of government, perhaps they don’t need to be protected. Perhaps the strength of their scholarship should continue to speak for itself at universities.

  • i would be ok with this, so long as it also extends to the three branches of government. (humor)

    that said, i am pretty sure that this sort of *affirmative action* was meant to be inclusive of people who have no control over their physical characteristics, not their political leanings.

    to be fair this legislation *could* stop conservatives from getting jobs as well, so the title is a bit unbiased…and kind of gives credit to this whole idea that news venues are not doing their job as originally intended.

    but, also…i don’t think one’s political affiliation should be a factor in deciding whether or not they can teach a subject…just as religion, race and gender should not be, as well.

  • My great great grandfather was one of the first settlers in Iowa. Most of my ancestors are buried in Iowa. I was born in Iowa. As far as I’m concerned this fascist’s idea is a disgrace to their memory and what they gave to the state of Iowa!

  • He does realize there are more than two political parties and this would turn into a jobs bill for Greens and Libertarians, right?

  • Then there should be a Federal law that applies to elections The number of Senators & Representatives both Federal and State and Governors can not exceed a certain percentage and while we are at it the same rule applies to Mayors and County Comissioners and Dog Catchers and Garbage Collectors And lets get to the private institutions so all religious colleges have to hire atheists and the EPA has to hire big time polluters! Should I go on?

  • Koch Brothers have been doing this for several years. They “support” a University and then insist that they hire professors who push their (libertarian) ideals. Just more GOP nonsense from the party of money and paranoia.

  • Republicans do not want to be poorly paid for work that helps make the world a better place, hence there are fewer of them in education.

  • Hiring should be done EXCLUSIVELY on the basis of competence. Political affiliation should NEVER be a relevant factor and should not ever be discussed or investigated.

  • Although not applicable to college teaching, the idea of having the party affiliation of say,state legislators, actually conform the the number of votes cast for that party has merit. We ought to try it.

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