The Iowa Capitol dome in Des Moines.

Most Americans would agree one-party countries, like the Russian Federation or People’s Republic of China, are not the best manner in which to run a country, let alone to live under authoritarian rule. Likewise, many would contend one-party controlled states, like Iowa, are problematic to her citizens.

For the first time since 1914 there is only one divided legislature in America: Minnesota. Nebraska’s legislature has been non-partisan since 1937. Eighteen states and District of Columbia are autocratically run by the Democrats and 30 states, including Iowa, are under totalitarian GOP control.

Iowa Democrats and Republicans have, at various times, established trifecta (i.e., Governor’s Office, House and Senate) dominance. Democrats owned Iowa’s Capitol during 2007-2010 and Republicans had draconian control in 1997-1998 as well as since the 2016 election.

There are many problems when autocrats govern. First, America’s prized check and balance principle is eroded. Secondly, with one-party high-handedness, bipartisanship rarely exists. Third, usually short-term policy decisions are made, which voters suffer from in the long-haul. Fourth, out-of-state policy groups greatly influence legislation. Fifth, registered minority party and independent voters, who, in numbers, are greater than the party in control, are not represented under one-party control — rather undemocratic, don’t you think?

Back in 2007-2010, the Democrat-controlled Capitol ran rough-shod over Iowa’s citizens on a lot of labor-related issues including fair share payment of collective bargaining negotiation costs by non-union members, requiring the prevailing wage on public construction projects and choice of doctor by employee (vs. employer) when a work injury occurred. Gov. Chet Culver’s (D) veto of expanding the scope of collective bargaining was mindboggling. The Democrats also instilled an across-the-board budget cut for all state agencies. However, the Democrats were very supportive of women’s rights, education, handicapped, disadvantaged and protecting bullied children.

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Since 2016 it is blatantly apparent the Republicans are walking all over Iowa’s citizens on five issues: attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade federal abortion rights law, local control is becoming extinct, judicial and even Assessor’s office holders will become political positions, 1880’s-like Wild-Wild-West gun rights have reemerged and voter suppression of community college and public university students and veterans.

Think about the following issues that fall in the conservative-centrist-progressive continuum: judges selected by a political party versus from a non-partisan committee, exonerated felons only vote with Governor’s approval or as regular citizens, steal public education funds to support privatized tutorial education or support public education at annual cost of operation (3 percent), collective bargaining restriction or employee rights to bargain, telephonic or on-site nursing home inspections, mental health housing facility closures and defacto jail mental health centers or proper care for the most vulnerable, use taxpayer money to support corporate welfare or low-middle income population, decimate post-secondary education budgets or provide financial maintenance, juvenile detention center closings or supporting troubled children, infrastructure standstill or expansion, status quo nitrate reduction efforts or expansion, women’s rights demeaned or equal rights, $7.25 below poverty level or above poverty level minimum wage, home schooling with no accountability or oversight with annual testing, taxes supporting students attending private colleges or public money used for public institutions, out-of-state managed and expensive privatized Medicaid program or efficacious and properly managed state-run Medicaid, . . ., to name a few.

Take time to reflect upon the one-sided 2007-2010 actions of Iowa’s Democrats and the partisan 2016-current GOP control we’re experiencing. You’ll quickly realize authoritarian dictatorial trifecta rule has caused major problems for Iowa.

Its high time voters recognize one-party domination at Iowa’s Capitol is exceedingly dangerous. When we vote in the 2020 election let’s vow to restore bipartisanship, restore prudent policy making and restore judicious checks and balances with a split party government.

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Steve Corbin is an emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect those of the University of Northern Iowa.


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