Written by Tom Slater December 14, 2015
In May of 2016, Slater Nation will celebrate my Father's 100th birthday. He was Irish, so it should be good. Our Mother celebrated her 100th on November 29th of 2015. She was of German ancestry. They were farmers and mom was also an elementary school teacher. They were kind, gentle, but firm with their eight children. Over nightly suppers, there were always hearty discussions of political and other issues of the day. Regarding Eisenhower - did he play too much golf? Kennedy – we never had a photo on the wall even though we were Catholic. Johnson was controversial because of Vietnam, but fearless in his efforts on Civil Rights. And there was Nixon – their unanimous agreement that he was a most unusual man. Around our family supper table there were raised voices and different opinions, but our discussions were always civil and worthwhile.
I am 70 years old and have been involved politics and have worked in public policy issues all my life. It is very difficult not to be disappointed and considerably sad about what is being discussed by candidates as well as the media in the public dialogue. For months, I have been scourged by the repugnant and antagonistic debate used to secure candidate support during Iowa’s Caucus season. The noise, mean-spirited, partisan, and vile “policy” discussions by candidates, political parties, media, and special interest groups drown out so many legitimate issues that affect the lives of everyday Iowans. Louder and louder, meaner and meaner, more and more irrelevant with a heavy dose of dubious entertainment seems to be the formula for all “policy” debate.
Sure, I am on the edge of cynicism these days. Media attention or comments from candidates about clean water, poverty, health care access (with the exception of repealing “Obamacare”), the high costs of drugs, or early childhood education are never a part of any political discussion in our great caucus state. At SPPG, during these same times, we are working with the Iowa Council on Homelessness, as well as working on a girls’ justice project so Iowa can better provide services that are effective for young females in the justice system. Our relationship with rural physicians in the formation of an Alliance and two ACOs will help address health care to assure access and quality health care for Iowa’s rural communities. And as we all grow older, we are continuing our efforts to ensure that direct care workers who provide supports and services to people with all types of disabilities or health conditions are well-trained and prepared to care for our parents and us. There are so many more serious issues that are relevant to Iowans that are lost in this political diatribe.
It is not my place to ask anyone to do anything. I am asking that we each recognize our own moral authority to make our Caucuses more than entertainment or a beauty contest and ask our future President – every chance we get – about the issues we all really care about. In the least, my parents would expect that of their children.