Monday, April 11, 2005

Should Iowa's Legislature be Nonpartisan?

by Kyle Michaelis
Not that I've heard any real talk about Iowa following in its neighbor to the west's footsteps, but after reading this report in the Omaha World-Herald maybe they should at least consider it:
Last fall, when state senators realized there would be a historic 25-25 party split in the Iowa Senate, Democrats and Republicans vowed a session filled with compromise and free of partisan rancor. Yeah, like that was going to happen.

With about a month left in the 2005 session, the evenly divided Iowa Senate is bogged down in legislative gridlock. Lawmakers of both parties are blaming each other for an unproductive and frustrating session.

Republicans say Democrats are being obstructionists. Democrats say Republicans - the majority for the last eight years - aren't used to sharing power...

About all the two sides agree upon is that the complex power-sharing arrangement isn't working. One party, they say, needs to be in charge.
Is that really the only answer? I think not. A nonpartisan legislature like Nebraska's is a viable alternative, though the Omaha World-Herald won't be saying anything of the sort since they've been trying to do away with it for years.

Ultimately, I'm not really advocating it, but the people of Iowa should know such an option exists. Political parties have become so focused on hot button national issues that these labels might really be doing a disservice to the people at the state and local levels, as the rancor carrying over from these BIG differences prevents the compromise necessary to govern on a smaller scale. When political parties are doing more harm than good, official nonpartisanship makes sense as a way to liimit the parties' influence even though it can never be eliminated.

Note that in 2000, Iowans voted for Gore by the slimmest of margins and in 2004 they did the same for President Bush. Meanwhile, the state senate is evenly divided and the state house has a one vote majority for the Republicans 51-49. Topping it all off, Governor Tom Vilsack is a Democrat.

Obviously, Iowans are able to look beyond party labels - maybe, in the state legislature, they're ready to disregard them entirely.

"New Iowa Network" anyone?


Post a Comment

<< Home