Editorial: Iowa induces queasiness

Source: By Art Cullen, The Storm Lake Times • Posted: Monday, November 9, 2020

It also looks like Sen. Mitch McConnell remains majority leader, thanks to Republican Sen. Joni Ernst’s victory in Iowa. Her Democratic challenger, Theresa Greenfield, held a lead in most polls through the campaign. But the final Iowa Poll from The Des Moines Register last weekend called it right: Trump and Ernst were winning Iowa despite big financial advantages with Biden and Greenfield. Independents swung hard to the right over the last month, wanting to keep a GOP-controlled Senate as a check on “socialists” as they bet that Biden would win the White House and Nancy Pelosi would continue as Madam Speaker. 

It makes the stomach quiver to think that Iowa favored a lecherous, traitorous, lying, corrupt President bereft of empathy, and a senator who stood by him steadfast and true. Tax cuts, fewer regulations and wanting to “own the libs” turned out huge numbers of rural voters. More than $60 billion in ag subsidies over the past two years to cover for bungling trade wars and low prices helped keep the rural vote in the fold. Ethanol plants are back up, meatpacking plants are running full tilt, and corn prices have been recovering. It helps you forget about former Ukrainian ambassador Marie Yovanovitch testifying during Trump’s impeachment trial about how she feared for her very life by calling out the Administration’s devious dealings with the Russians. It helps the cries of refugee children in border cages fade with time. Ernst was his apologist. Iowans bought it, which raises all sorts of depressing questions about what we purport to be our values.

It also raises questions about how the centers of power approach the places and people left behind and frustrated in Appalachian Ohio or western Iowa. Democrats simply can’t compete anymore in Rural America, and they have no clue what to do about it. They lack a cohesive vision that can give these places a path forward. They continue to run corporatists for statewide office — why not just vote for a Republican? And, voters seem to have forgotten their civic character at the bank or someplace. That Iowa would vote for Trump not once but twice puts shame on us.

CONGRATULATIONS TO Randy Feenstra, R-Hull, for beating the insufferable Rep. Steve King in the June primary, and then defeating our friend JD Scholten in the general election. Feenstra ran an honorable and obviously highly effective campaign based on core conservative principles. Nobody worked harder the past three years than Scholten, who got within three percentage points of King in 2018 and emboldened Feenstra to challenge him. The Democratic Party should nominate him for governor or US Senator. Perhaps if they try running a real Democrat from rural Iowa not picked by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, they could win a statewide office. The Fourth District was just too steep a hill for Scholten, the affable Sioux Citian with a bright future.

We are eager to get to know state Senator-elect Craig Williams, R-Carroll, better as he prepares to assume office in the wake of retiring Sen. Mark Segebart, R-Vail. He sounds like a pragmatic man with a solid reputation in Carroll who earnestly wants to serve. We look forward to him getting acquainted with Storm Lake, as we hope the pandemic will relent. He will be joined by Rep. Gary Worthan, R-Storm Lake, who soundly defeated Sarah Huddleston again. Our thanks to Huddleston and Williams’s opponent, CJ Petersen of Breda, for swimming against the tide. We trust that Worthan and Williams will work together to help lift rural communities and be a strong voice for Buena Vista County in Des Moines. They are in the majority for sure. We hope that they will start with helping sprout affordable housing, which is one of the most pressing issues in our low-wage economy.

OUR THANKS go out to those who worked for a smooth and safe election amid high turnout and a pandemic. County Auditor Sue Lloyd was the first to urge people to vote early and to make a voting plan to stay safe. She asked for more poll workers, and they responded with courage to help democracy win. Despite all the fears generated over our election system, it pretty much went off without a hitch in Iowa. We believe that every vote will be counted and canvassed fairly in 99 counties. We just wish a few more of them would have flowed to washing our reputation clean from helping vault a charlatan into our nation’s highest office in 2016. Lord willing, as Biden likes to say, we will see the former vice president raise his hand for the oath to protect and defend the Constitution. He actually will mean it.

Art Cullen is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and editor of The Storm Lake Times.