Des Moines Register: Editorial: Bad politicians are elected by good people who don’t vote
October 24, 2018
By Editorial Board
Politicians can ignore bumper stickers, yard signs, phone calls and marches on capitals. They can dismiss public opinion polls, editorials and griping constituents.
The one thing they cannot ignore: the majority of voters on Election Day.
We the people decide whether a candidate has a job in public office come January. We help decide the fate of our country, state and even our own families — by casting a ballot for candidates best aligned with our own values.
Democracy can’t function if citizens don’t vote. Without the people, power defaults to special interests and their money. The question now is whether you will use your power by voting on or before Nov. 6. Because the outcome of elections matters very much.
Ask teachers in underfunded Iowa schools if elections matter. Ask low-income Iowans who have lost services under the Republican-led Medicaid privatization. Ask human services workers, veterans, tourists stunned by our filthy waterways and Iowa women who now have less access to health services and birth control.
The individuals who hold elected office affect every part of our lives.
Members of Congress determine the future of Medicare, Social Security, public lands, military funding and immigration policy. State lawmakers influence the environment, infrastructure, public safety and cost of higher education.
Now is the time for each of us to speak up. And it’s easy to participate in Iowa because of early voting, absentee voting and same-day registration.
Every vote matters, particularly in midterm elections. Several members of the Iowa Legislature who won their seats by less than 1,000 votes in 2016 know the importance of every single vote. One state lawmaker landed in office with less than 250 more votes than his opponent.
Yet in the 2016 general election, nearly 30 percent of the 2.2 million registered votersin Iowa did not bother to vote. That’s more than 600,000 people, including 26 percent of registered Democrats and 19 percent of registered Republicans who failed to participate in our country’s democracy.
Those failures are an affront to Americans throughout history who risked their lives ensuring people in this country could vote. Our soldiers also have fought to deliver that right to people in other countries. The very least each of us can do is take the time to be informed on issues and cast a ballot.
No one can assume certain candidates will win or lose because they’re ahead or behind in the polls. Conventional wisdom does not necessarily prevail. Refusing to vote because you’re tired of politics or think all the candidates are “the same” is a lazy cop-out. Candidates are not the same. They have very different agendas
Iowans have watched those agendas become reality under GOP control the past few years. In our view, consequences have included union busting, increased federal deficits and presidential tariffs that put Iowa’s agricultural economy at risk. In others’ views, they have included needed controls on public employee bargaining power, tax cuts and a push to achieve a level playing field for American goods in international trade.
The way to embrace or reject an agenda is to step up and have your constitutionally given say. Because bad politicians are elected by good people who don’t vote.
Which candidates reflect your values?
Voting is personal. No one can force you to vote for a candidate you do not support. You have no obligation to explain to anyone for whom you voted or why. The only person you must answer to is you.
Des Moines Register endorsements for political candidates are intended to express the editorial board’s opinion on who is best suited to represent the interests of Iowans. Here are our suggestions so far:
1st District: Democrat Abby Finkenauer has demonstrated a solid grasp of issues facing this district. She is energetic and rightly believes Congress should represent people, not special interests. If she defeats incumbent Rod Blum, Finkenauer will be the first woman in Iowa elected to the U.S. House and among the youngest in history.
2nd District: Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack deserves a seventh term to continue his work advocating for veterans and expanding access to rural broadband. Though his challenger puts forth some intriguing ideas, Loebsack has been a reliable advocate for low- and middle-income Iowans and has worked to protect access to health insurance.
3rd District Democrat Cindy Axne deserves to win the seat in Congress held by incumbent David Young. She has demonstrated dedication to public service and is well-informed on issues important to Iowans’ quality of life. Young, who tries hard at times to portray himself as a moderate to win support in this district, has voted essentially in lockstep with extremist Republicans.
4th District Democrat J.D. Scholten, a former professional baseball player from Sioux City, would bring fresh perspective to Washington, D.C., and has a dedication to rural Iowa communities. His opponent, incumbent Steve King, remains more focused on catering to neo-Nazis than to his constituents. Voters finally need to send King packing.
The Register believes Fred Hubbell not only is the most qualified candidate in this race, but also may be one of the most qualified individuals ever to run for governor of Iowa. He’s focused on improving life for average Iowans. His opponent, Kim Reynolds, who holds her position by appointment, does not seem to have a vision beyond cutting taxes for the wealthy and cutting government services that vulnerable Iowans need.
Judicial retention: Flip over your ballot and you’ll see numerous judges up for retention. The Register encourages voting “yes” to judges unless you know of verified lapses in professionalism, temperament and independence. Judges should not be ousted based on rulings in individual cases. The Iowa Supreme Court’s Voters’ Guideprovides more information about each judge.
This editorial is the opinion of the Des Moines Register’s editorial board: Carol Hunter, executive editor; Kathie Obradovich, opinion editor; Andie Dominick, editorial writer, and Richard Doak and Rox Laird, editorial board members.