Iowa GOP finally moving in the right direction
Saturday, June 21, 2014
By Beth Cody, Writers’ Group member
Iowa City Press-Citizen

Last Saturday, my husband and I attended the Iowa GOP State Convention in Des Moines, as we have every two years for the past four conventions (ever since Ron Paul ran for president in 2008), and I was somewhat encouraged by what I heard and saw.

The convention had a good lineup of speakers: I was especially excited to hear Rand Paul (he’s a more polished, politically-viable version of his cerebral libertarian father); Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal spoke movingly and inspiringly about his family’s experiences as immigrants from India pursuing the American Dream; even Iowa Governor Terry Branstad made a persuasive case that Iowa’s finances have greatly improved under his management.

All of these speakers emphasized fiscal issues and that the Republican Party must stand against crony capitalism and for liberty, while making the party more inclusive to all Americans who understand the importance of economic freedom, regardless of background.

(I admit I took a long bathroom break during most of Rick Santorum’s usual rants against gay marriage and immigration, so I can’t speak with authority on the quality of his speech.)

As part of the libertarian wing of the Republican Party (we are determined to save the party from its worst instincts), it’s been interesting to see the positive changes that have happened in the Iowa GOP over the past eight years:

  • The most obvious has been the growing acceptance of legalizing medical marijuana, an issue that would have been unacceptable eight years ago.
  • Even this moderate language in the Iowa platform: “The Patriot Act and the actions of national intelligence agencies shall not infringe upon American citizens’ 4th Amendment rights” would likely have been deemed “unpatriotic” in the warmongering atmosphere of the Bush GOP a decade ago.
  • In a nod to Ron Paul’s 30 years of tireless efforts, the Iowa platform supports an annual audit of the Federal Reserve “until such time as the agency is abolished and a sound commodity-based currency is adopted.”
  • The general emphasis upon economic liberty issues and less overt discussion of legislating morality is perhaps the most encouraging sign of positive change.

 

However, there still remains much room for improvement, if the GOP wants to become the winning party:

  • We don’t need government to tell us whom we can marry, and any party that claims to stand for freedom needs to get this through its thick skull. The good news is that younger conservatives are far more accepting of other people making their own choices, and the party is following. But until the GOP stops indulging yesterday’s moral minority, it will continue to turn away supporters of freedom and embarrass a growing number of members.
  • The immigration issue is of much greater importance. Rallying cries of “No Amnesty!” should be repugnant to all descendents of immigrants who were easily allowed to come here legally.  The unjust law is the problem, not the people who break it. Anyone who wants to come here to work or start businesses should be admitted, issued an ID and encouraged to immediately start working and paying taxes like the rest of us. This would be a huge boost to our economy, because immigrants need services too, they don’t just “take our jobs.” The GOP needs to stop pandering to anti-immigrant fears and instead encourage economic literacy about this issue.
  • Republicans need to return to their roots of being conservative (wary) about war. Defense of our own territory is conservative; thinking we can police the world is anything but.

 

I was encouraged by what I saw and heard on Saturday. Unlike some of my libertarian compatriots, I am patient enough to realize that change in the opinions of millions of people comes slowly. Incremental change is a step in the right direction – and I feel hopeful that it will be followed by many other positive steps.