Why has Senator Mike Gronstal become the latest target of Republican Freakout? It’s like this. Gronstal stands for the views of the majority and Republicans know that the Iowa Senate is 2 Democratic votes away from Iowa becoming Scott Walker’s Wisconsin [see: Branstad inspired by Scott Walker]. The Republican brain seems unable to recognize or respect a long-standing Iowa public servant who does his job with integrity. Instead the GOP sees Mike Gronstal as a mere gnat on their windshield of career plans that must be gotten rid of. The GOP, awash in too much free flowing cash from corporations who are now fully involved in our politics, seems to have nothing to lose and everything to gain by exhibiting temper tantrums (no offense to actual 2-year olds) when things don’t go 100% their way. In right wing world this is what you put on your resume to get promoted faster. Things went beyond rhetoric last year when Gronstal’s home was vandalized. The following letter to the editor appeared in the August 9, 2011 edition of the Council Bluffs Nonpareil:
“As I drove by Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal’s home last week, I noticed more than a dozen signs scattered throughout his yard and the lawns of his neighbors (i.e. private property). Sadly, the signs depicted Senator Gronstal as a baby killer and Nazi. The vandals’ brazen message, of course, is wildly inaccurate, hateful, and an infringement upon the rights of Sen. Gronstal and his family. Nazis were abhorrent bigots who executed Jews and homosexuals. Senator Gronstal, on the other hand, is a man of honor and integrity who has worked tirelessly over the past quarter century to protect the rights of all Iowans, regardless of race, sex, class, or sexual orientation. The vandals’ malicious comparison is disrespectful, completely false, and creates a hate-filled political environment in Pottawattamie County entirely void of civil discourse.”
The letter drew sixteen comments some from anonymous vandalism defenders wanting to compare the act of vandalizing Gronstal’s personal property to protesters showing up outside of Steve King’s office. Not to get too nuancy about it but peaceful protest, even if not exactly 100% polite and civil, and vandalism are not the same things.
A more recent article published in the Solon Economist had a quote about Gronstal from Bobby Kaufmann, Republican candidate for state representative, who said about the Senate Majority Leader,
“It’s a travesty that one person (Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal) is holding up a vote [on same-sex marriage] with passionate people on both sides. Our voices, on both sides of the issue, for and against, are not being heard. It should be put to a vote”
We wonder if Mr. Kaufmann thinks there are rights that he currently enjoys that should be put to a vote. Kaufmann realizes that in order to win his dad’s seat in the state house he will need to get some Johnson County votes (good luck with that). So he is naturally trying to sound like a moderate even while espousing conservative views. He does this by repeating the term “both sides.” Kaufmann’s talking point that “both sides” want a vote on same sex marriage makes no sense because the pro-same sex marriage side does not want their constitutionally protected right to marry who they choose to be subject to the political winds of the day. Who would? So it is inaccurate to claim that “both sides” want to put this to a vote. Only the conservatives who want to deny same sex couples the right to marry want to put it to a vote.
For his part, Gronstal has said he can take the heat of standing for Iowans.
The truth is that in a representative democracy, the people have spoken and have chosen a state government in which there is a balance of power with 26 Senate Democrats providing a check on the absolute power of Branstad and the GOP controlled house. Senator Gronstal has been a defender of the majority view, something that seems of no import to the current crop of Republican activists.
Whether Democrats can re-gain the majority in the Iowa House and retain the Senate majority will be determined in the November 6 election. Iowans have stood for the Democratic majority before. It is time to do so again.