The 3 basic founding principles of our democracy are:
- Majority rule
- Minority rights and protection of liberty
- Checks and balances and constraints on potential abuse of power
Iowa’s U.S. senators have failed to execute the duties of their office responsibly when it comes to enforcing checks and balances on abuses of power by the current administration. I will enforce and defend this duty as one of 3 basic founding principles of our democracy (see these essential principles as defined by a real democracy expert, Larry Diamond ) –
Unchecked, reckless trade policies with wrecking-ball-style tariffs are deeply hurting Iowa farmers with no guarantee of eventual benefit. Our state’s agriculture sector shouldn’t be paying the price for Silicon Valley’s intellectual property theft issues and a competent negotiator with any understanding of international markets would have understood this. (See my Economics section for how Trump lost real bargaining power and influence on China when just a few days into his administration he stumbled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.) Many members of Congress should have acted long ago to stop Trumps misuse of the Trade Expansion Act (which allows the executive branch to impose tariffs only on the grounds of national security). I won’t be sitting on the sidelines when it comes to acting in the best interest of Iowans and Americans and will diligently perform the duties of my office.
Validating dictators is devastating to the people they oppress and is no respectable role for any free-world leader. No devotion to political party or other conceivable excuse justifies how little our U.S. Senators have spoken out about how our actions as a country (regardless of whether initiated in the legislative or executive branches of government) impact the rest of the world. Fortunately legislative powers remain that may prevent further crises and a senator who’s focused on leading by example (instead of seeking a leadership role in a political party) is only one election away.
Promoting Democracy by Example:
I am very concerned about the state of our democracy and I know many of you are as well. Please share your thoughts on this topic when you see me in your part of the state, or send me (email@example.com) your concerns and ideas. Many of us shared concerns about the political process before the 2016 general election, and many more did after. Larry Diamond, a well-democracy expert, outlined some great points for us to consider when he spoke on Iowa Public Radio- June 24th. He also offers a book- “Ill Winds: Saving Democracy From Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency”
I think most of us can admit to being guilty of complacency at some point in our lives and failing to be as vigilant as we should to keep our government as functional as possible. Join me in taking a closer look at what’s happening today and let’s work together to achieve a democracy we all truly can be proud of.
Both of Iowa’s U.S. senators have failed to execute the duties of their office responsibly when it comes to enforcing checks and balances on abuses of power by the current administration (failing to do what was within their power to limit reckless, devastating trade policies among them). Not only should more of our members of congress acted long ago to stop Trump’s misuse of the Trade Expansion Act (which allows the executive branch to impose tariffs only on the grounds of national security), but they should have spoken out about how his actions diminish support for democracy around the world. Validating dictators is devastating to the people they oppress in their countries. Damaging and disregarding important relationships with our allies limits our ability to protect our national interests and advocate for democratic ideals in other nations. Reneging on crucial international agreements when the parties involved have complied (yes- pulling out of the nuclear deal) damages our credibility potentially weakens future negotiations. We have now displayed incompetency in understanding international priorities and an inability to recognize and employ more effective negotiating strategies. Throwing away all our bargaining chips in one reckless move- the Trump administration’s consistent style of recklessness with our lives and the lives of people in other nations, at the very least should be denounced by our members of Congress.
I agree with Mr. Diamond that President Trump is “violating and undermining democratic norms” with his words and behavior- and that he uses “the kind of language, posture, and rhetoric that we get from dictators- not from a democratically elected president.” Attacking our free press instead of answering to it with the consideration and dignity the office of the presidency requires is beyond irresponsible. No one unwilling to confront unpleasant realities, or defend their ethics should offer themselves for public office. Regardless of our political party affiliation (or lack of it), we really have to take a stand against this destructive style of politics. There are ways we can promote our position without degrading our democracy. I respect opposing points of view from Trump supporters, and I want to listen carefully to your grievances and concerns about the political process as well. Mr. Diamond’s analysis also offers us some hopeful suggestions on ways we can repair the broken parts so that democracy to serve us all better. Your thoughts on his ideas, and other great solutions you might suggest are welcome and important. People from both major political parties have acknowledged that their party could do more to objectively examine their leaders and give other party members more voice and consideration for potential leadership roles (one of the reasons I support term limits for members of congress). On this topic, for now I give the last words for consideration to former Republican Senator Jeff Flake:
Promoting Economic Justice:
The field of economics is often misunderstood. I am guided by ideals like this one noted from my Economic Development textbook: “As a social science, economics is concerned with people and how best to provide them with material means to help them realize their full human potential.” Amartya Sen- the 1998 Nobel laureate in economics, offers 3 core values of development that are considered essential components when we think of economic justice, including:
“Sustenance- the Ability to Meet Basic needs (A basic function of all economic activity is to provide as many people as possible with means for overcoming helplessness and misery from a lack of food, shelter, health and protection)”
“Self-Esteem: To Be a Person (a sense of worth and self-respect, and of not being used as a tool by others for their own ends)”
“Freedom from Servitude: To Be Able to Choose (the sense of emancipation from alienating material conditions of life and from social servitude to nature, ignorance, other people, misery, institutions, and dogmatic beliefs).” (Economic Development 9th Ed. – Todaro and Smith, Addison- Wesley 2006, pp 21-25)
We should keep these basic principles in mind as we consider how to be good neighbors to the rest of the world. We can collaborate better with foreign governments to advance America’s goals and the greater good, preserving the respect that people of other nations hold for us. We have to build and maintain powerful coalitions to limit and influence rouge governments that disregard these basic principles for their own people or the people of other nations. Iowa’s Senators can set a better example of leadership for the nation, and America can be a better example of democracy for the rest of the world.