Thursday, February 25, 2010

So You Want to be a Rox and Roll Star

On Saturday 10 hearty souls braved the winter cold and a forecast of 5-8 inches of snow(that never materialized) to hear the frontrunner for the Democratic senate nomination. Roxanne Conlin was once a rising star in the Iowa Democratic Party; she was a U.S. attorney during the Carter administration and she was the Democratic nominee for Governor in 1982("I was first runner up," she said). After her gubernatorial bid, Conlin retired from frontline politics. Conlin said that Sen. Chuck Grassley's(R-IA) antics during the debate over healthcare drove her to run against him.

Conlin came off as a typical Democratic candidate. She favors the healthcare reform and even appeared to endorse the idea of "medicare for all." All of the questions were related to domestic issues. Every participant asked about, or voiced support for, healthcare. There were also questions about further stimulus, jobs, and immigration. It also appeared that everyone is sick with American political culture. Most specifically attendees were distressed by the corporate role in American politics and the recent Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case. Strikingly, there were no questions about foreign policy or national security. Nobody asked about Iran, Afghanistan, Iran, terrorism or any other foreign policy issue. It is clear that the 2010 election will be focused on domestic issues.

I am glad Roxanne Conlin came to Southwest Iowa, which is the part of Iowa most ignored by the Democratic establishment. I do think her run speaks to the difficult conditions for Democrats this year. The most effective possible challenger is off in D.C. working as the Secretary of Agriculture and the other big names in Iowa Democratic politics all passed on the race when their names were floated as possible challengers. Even though Sen. Grassley disgraced himself with his conduct over the healthcare debate, it seems clear that no major Democrat wants to risk anything to hold him accountable and that is sad.

Even though it is an uphill climb to defeat Grassley, all Iowa Democrats should commend Conlin and the other candidates in the Democratic primary. They have shown a willingness to risk all and hold an incumbent Senator accountable. That deserves our respect and support.

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