This midterm election provides voters in Iowa with two unprecedented opportunities to empower critical accountability at both the local and statewide levels.
First, five years ago a concerned citizen, Diane Holst, began attending Scott County Board of Supervisors meetings because she wanted to better understand where her tax dollars were being spent. The more she attended, the more she realized that not all is what it seems relative to county business. Typically the lone attendee from the community, she witnessed processes that were vague and confusing. So she decided to research the agenda items and familiarize herself before making inquiries. It soon became obvious that most of the business is conducted by staff behind the scenes, away from public scrutiny or input, with very little oversight by supervisors beyond showing up during board meetings and approving what is put in front of them.
Granted, a lot of county business is perfunctory, and doesn't require a lot of supervision or study before approving. However, there are critical budget items, expenditures, and policy decisions that do deserve far greater scrutiny but are treated with the same sense of perfunctory disinterest.
Too much of what the county does occurs with virtually no knowledge or input from the public, whose tax dollars pay for every cent of its activities. Too many local, state, and federal politicians have the attitude that they need not read, let alone grasp, the rules, regulations, and legislation they enact. In fact, many prefer not to, because if it goes unread, how accountable can they really be held?
Holst asserts that, whether voters are Democrats or Republicans, they all should care about property rights and taxation with honest representation. Her most ardent promise to us is to read all documentation relative to the agenda items before her. She will not vote on anything she hasn't fully researched or doesn't thoroughly understand. After five years of showing up, she deserves the opportunity to prove that an elected county supervisor can actually do the job of representing residents versus strictly advocating the professed county-government spending needs. We deserve to be properly represented for our hard work that provides the essential monetary contributions to county governance. Ask yourself why Scott County, whose population has grown only 5 percent in 14 years, has doubled the taxes it collects and spends over that same time period.
The past two decades have highlighted the political subterfuge that blurs the lines between parties. Democrats and Republicans constantly conspire, going to great lengths to lull voters into a false sense of ideology and political purpose. Laws only get enacted if they favorably move the dial for both parties as a whole. This is readily seen in the legislation that gets passed, full of completely unrelated items that benefit special interests only.
The horse-trading for votes is methodical and strategic. The representatives and senators on both sides of the aisle take hits for one another on a regular basis, weighing the political damage and subsequent damage control with alarming accuracy. The idea is always to pass legislation with the proper balance of bipartisanship so that all insider incumbents are protected. This is true whether we are talking about the National Defense Authorization Act at the federal level or the bipartisan support for a gas-tax increase in Iowa.
Corporate media's cooperation is critical in this game. It makes sure that what little does get news coverage only does so briefly, and with as little context as possible. The truly bad acts of incumbents are rarely used against them in campaigns. Most campaigns could eviscerate incumbents' performances across the two-party spectrum, but instead incumbents get accused of paltry offenses that are easily overlooked by those with party loyalty.
Add to this gross manipulation of information the absurd gerrymandering that reduces general elections to the control of approximately 3 percent of each district's voters, and incumbents are practically guaranteed re-election.
It is all very predictable, and seriously sophisticated in its simplicity. But all of this nonsense is only possible because of voters' persistent willingness to cast uninformed votes (often via straight-ticket voting with no clue for whom they are pulling the lever), or a refusal to hold those they do elect accountable to anything measurable. The typical American voter clings to a party that not only does not reflect his/her perceived ideologies but consistently fails in keeping campaign promises over and over again with zero negative consequences. The only people's circumstances continually bettered as a result of elections are the politicians and bureaucrats who are kept in office for their failures.
At some point, one must feel shame for such redundant civic stupidity and political self-destruction. But where in Heaven's name is that point for you? There are several redeeming acts of civic participation that you can do on November 4. The first is to vote for Diane Holst, regardless of your party affiliation. It is a miracle we have such an honorable, dedicated person - not a politician, life-long government employee, or lawyer - so uniquely qualified to serve the taxpayers. Check her out at DianeHolst.com.
The second opportunity is to vote for the independent candidate for governor, Jonathan Narcisse, so that he garners at least the 2 percent of total Iowa votes that will guarantee the unique Iowa Party ballot access for the next four years. Narcisse conceived the Iowa Party to hold elected officials, bureaucrats, and judges from both parties accountable to their platforms, campaign promises, performance, and jurisprudence. In many House/Senate districts and county-board races where incumbents run unopposed year after year, the Iowa Party will be the second party, rather than the third. And Narcisse's timing could not be better: A September Gallup poll showed, again, that the majority (58 percent) of Americans want a third party for better representation (RCReader.com/y/gallup).
The way it works right now, politicians treat their promises as so much political rhetoric to get elected. Bureaucrats enjoy precious little oversight, and tenure employment regardless of poor performance. Judges operate completely under the radar, with virtually no sunlight or accountability for their rulings. Once in office, promises are abandoned without remorse because there is no mechanism to hold these politicians and public servants to their word. The Tea Party was made part of the Republican Borg, and the Occupy Movement has been all but forgotten.
The Iowa Party has the power to expose the shared power and abuse that the two parties have enjoyed for far too long. Its stated purpose is to recruit candidates from incumbents' own parties to challenge them in primaries when they don't deliver on their commitments. And if that fails, the Iowa Party will still have official ballot access for the same seat every election for four years.
Consider that even the Des Moines Register, inside the Polk County beltway, could not stomach endorsing either Terry Branstad or Jack Hatch for governor (RCReader.com/y/register). With Branstad clearly ahead in this race, voting for Narcisse offends neither party's loyalists but provides a unique opportunity to systemically improve Iowa and create a model for other states to follow.
Not only will the Iowa Party hold the political class accountable, it will weed out the bad eggs while protecting the good guys in office who are delivering on their promises. The Iowa Party provides real solutions for a broken political system that endangers everyday Iowans. A vote for Narcisse will create the official Iowa Party, and the resulting four years of accountability will reward Iowa Democrats and Republicans who perform honorably.
Check him out at NarcisseForGovernor.com.