As predicted, the sun rose again this morning and it was for the most part a beautiful day. The wind kicked in as I headed down the trail after lunch, blowing cold, and kept blowing. Nearly blew my cousin and me clean off the hill as we stood in the driveway early this evening admiring the treasures she acquired Saturday at Dean Boozell’s estate auction. Great stuff!
So how about them election results? Not many surprises, I’d say.
The only mandate delivered by Iowans was for a new Natural Resources and Recreation Trust Fund. The only way to insert money into the new fund is to raise sales taxes, however --- and neither party is anxious (or at least that’s what they’re saying now) to do that. Interesting.
Republican Terry “Governor-for-Life” Branstad is governor once again, outdistancing poor clumsy Chet Culver by a 53-43 percent margin. Chet was not a bad governor --- in fact he was a pretty darned good one if the state’s current financial condition is considered: relatively low unemployment rate for hard times, low debt, good bond rating, $700 million budget surplus and revenues rising. But it was a bad year to be a Democrat, what with the national economy and all. And Terry B. had a lot of name recognition among the old farts who formed the majority of this year’s voters. Sort of like a race between two incumbents in a state that rarely ousts an incumbent, someone else pointed out --- and therefore confusing to many. Hope the old guy’s heart holds out.
Republicans now control the House and the margin in the Senate is up for grabs pending recounts. Again no surprises.
All this really means is that entitlement programs for the poor will be cut, various welfare programs for the affluent will be expanded and there will be a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the ballot in a few years. And that the latter will entail a good deal of name-calling. Ho-hum.
Some find it annoying --- being constantly referred to in public as perverted faggots. But hey --- I grew up with it.
The other big news from Iowa was ouster of three of the Iowa Supreme Court justices who with their colleagues ruled unanimously in 2009 that Iowa’s constitution did not ban and that its equal-protection clause logically included same-sex marriage. Such an uproar.
The tipping factor probably was a concerted and well-financed campaign by various national “pro-family” groups in coordination with Iowa’s own Bob Vander Plaats and those pesky born-agains to convince homophobic Iowans to actually fill out the retention ballot this year --- and by gum they did. The margain, again, was roughly 10 percent.
Now personally, I think the retention ballot is a good idea, allowing as it does a reasonable way to deal with incompetence. But it’s not been politicized before and that’s a slippery slope.
The hue and cry in this instance was “judicial activism,” which is interesting. Iowa’s Supreme Court has a long and honorable record of judicial activism where civil rights are involved --- in fact we’re kind of smug about that record. In 1839, for example, the Iowa Supreme Court in effect outlawed slavery some years before the Civil War by declaring that a slave named Ralph became free when he stepped onto Iowa soil; In 1868, the activist Iowa Supreme Court outlawed separate-but-equal schools in Iowa; and in 1873, the Iowa court outlawed racial discrimination in public accommodations. In all cases, rights were extended to people of color in Iowa many years before similar rights were extended nationally. Of course these were not perverted faggots.
Same, same for the most part on a national scale in regard to the U.S. House of Representatives, etc., etc., although the partisan mix of Iowa’s House delegation remains unchanged --- three Democrats and two Republicans.
The only word necessary to remember here is gridlock --- the sole point of politics in this day and age is power, not progress, and so Republicans have no incentive to do anything during the next two years other than make Democrats look bad; Obama has no incentive to do anything other than to do his darndest to make himself look centrist and conciliatory; and heaven only knows what other Democrats will be trying to make themselves look like. Whatever the case, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
There’s more to say --- I’m fascinated by the increasing marginalization of rural Iowa demonstrated in county-by-county stats from Tuesday’s election. But this is getting old.
The big laugh of the day came not from politics, but literature --- the rather decisive outing by R. Tripp Evans in a new biography entitled “Grant Wood: A Life” of Iowa’s prince of bucolia.
The fact that Iowa’s most widely known and respected artist was a deeply closeted and somewhat tortured gay man is not exactly news --- especially if you’re a graduate of the University of Iowa and paid attention while there. It’s just an interesting time in Iowa’s history for this particular book to be published.
Perhaps we should order up another constitutional amendment --- get that homosexual’s pictures off our walls! Golly, what’ if it’s not gay marriage that’s destroyed all those heterosexual families? What if it’s all those years we’ve been staring at “American Gothic” and absorbing the subliminal messages it no doubt contains?