Caucuses done, Conventions Begin - Primary Candidates File
The Democratic Caucuses were successful again this year and Democrats came out and got the 2014 election cycle off to a great start. Saturday, March 8, marks another milestone on the path toward electing Democrats to the U.S. Senate, Iowa Governor, four to the U.S. Congress, a majority in the Iowa Senate AND House, and local County Courthouse positions across the state.
County Convention Delegations will elect Delegates and Alternates to District and State Conventions, District Convention Committee Members, and County Affirmative Action Chairs who serve on the District Affirmative Action Committee. County Platform Committee members have been hard at work crafting County Democratic Party Platform drafts for review at their County Conventions. Others have been and are busy collecting signatures on petitions to get our Candidates on Primary ballots.
Candidate filing deadlines for the State and Federal candidates is March 14. For County candidates, the deadline is March 26.
Minimum Wage Increase, Women's Rights, Veterans Bills, Mental Health
There could not be a more definite division between Democrats and Republicans on these issues. The need to make sure that voters understand these topics and what is being proposed by each side could not be more important. It is always easier to bring issues down to the level of silly little slogans when you don't care about the truth. Most issues at the forefront of the battles in our legislatures at both the state and national level are much more complex than bumper-stickers can explain.
The fight to increase the minimum wage is a case in point. The point-counterpoint discussion about whether the United States should increase the minimum wage is unfolding as theory vs. reality. The Democratic points that a measured, slow increase in the minimum hourly rate would stimulate the economy creating more jobs, lift 900,000 people out of poverty, and reduce the number of low-wage earners being subsidized by tax-payers (while corporations pocket the money they should be paying so their employees can live on their earnings without additional government help). The Republicans decry a theory that ANY increase in labor costs HAS to slow the economy - despite years of proof to the contrary. That is not to say that every employer is able to meet a requirement to raise the wages of their lowest-paid employees without a hit to their profitability. The debate continues. Be sure to follow the FULL discussion and support your Democratic legislators who are working for you. An excellent discussion of the pros and cons can be found in this article from the Chicago Tribune.
Women's rights continue to be an issue at both the state and national level. Given that there are a little more than five million more women than men in the U.S; a higher percentage of registered women actually vote, and that more women tend to vote for Democrats (56%) than Republicans (44%), one would think that an intelligent politician would actively work to avoid antagonizing women. We can leave that statement to stand on its own merits. No point in beating a dead elephant.
Many rank and file GOP voters must be feeling overwhelming shame since their U.S. Senators blocked a bill crafted for the sole purpose of taking care of our veterans. Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont brought forth a bill, S. 1982, that would have helped veterans gain access to healthcare programs, permanently resolved a previous cut to veterans' pensions, and would have increased the impact of the GI Bill for education by allowing veterans to attend any college across the country at in-state tuition rates. The bill would have also provided advanced appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Not only did every Republican Senator save two vote against the bill, they first tried to tie sanctions against Iran to the stand-alone bill. “Whatever your views are, it just does not belong in a veterans bill,” Sanders said at a press conference after the vote. Apparently, the GOP likes the idea of creating more veterans, but not taking care of the ones we already have.
Mental health continues to be a major issue in Iowa ... and in the nation. As Iowa struggles to figure out how to structure and pay for the critically needed and scarce mental health services, the nation has come to realize that the mental health screenings that even the NRA agrees should be available are being obstructed in those states being run by GOP legislatures and/or governors. One of the little-realized side effects of denying Medicaid expansion to their constituents, is the denial of mental health services to those between 100% and 150% of poverty.
These are just a few of the issues on the radar this month. Find out more about these and other issues. Speak to your legislators, neighbors, and family. An informed electorate is required for Democracy to survive.