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The importance of constituent voices in legislature and state politics

Alex Sekora (‘19), President, Luther College Democrats

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Over the past few months, we have seen many controversial bills make their way through both Congress and the Iowa Legislature. Congress attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would have devastated millions of people that depend on the ACA. Congress has also successfully gutted internet privacy rules that would have prevented internet service providers from collecting and selling your data without your permission.

Here in Iowa, we have seen the state legislature rip away collective bargaining rights from public workers and take away local cities’ and counties’ power to raise their minimum wage. This effectively lowers the minimum wage for thousands of workers whose cities and counties have raised it in the past few years, to cite just a couple of the many extreme laws that have been enacted.

After the November elections, I saw a lot of energy from a lot of people who wanted to actively resist President Trump’s far-right agenda. The Indivisible movement and the Women’s March on Washington are two notable examples of people who are not always involved in politics stepping up and organizing to resist. Here in Decorah, we saw our own Women’s March bring 1,000 peaceful protesters to the Winneshiek County Courthouse, and our Indivisible chapter is growing in numbers as each month goes by.

But seeing many of these extreme laws enacted in our own state can be disheartening, and I have spoken with and seen many people who are demoralized and discouraged because they feel that their representatives are not listening to them.

While it is okay to be discouraged, we must also continue to fight the good fight. I spoke with State Senator Nate Boulton of Des Moines this past weekend at a conference at the University of Northern Iowa, where he encouraged everyone to continue to contact your representatives, because most of them do listen and take into account their constituent’s opinions.

I would encourage you to contact your elected representatives on issues that you care about, especially if that bill is up for debate in the legislature. You can email, call, and even text our local representatives: State Senator Michael Breitbach and State Representative Michael Bergan. You can also call or email the office of our congressional representatives: Congressman Rod Blum, Senator Chuck Grassley, and Senator Joni Ernst. It does not take long to call or email them. It takes just a few minutes when you have time in your day.

I would also encourage you to attend our representatives’ town hall meetings or listening sessions when they are in the area. At those meetings, they can easily be held accountable because they cannot just hang up the phone or not respond to an email. If you ask a question, it is very hard for them to ignore it.

You can also make a larger difference in our area by becoming involved with our local Indivisible chapter or the Winneshiek County Democrats.

We even have a group on campus that is focused on politics and resisting Trump’s agenda. You can join the Luther College Democrats or at least get on our email list. We meet every other Wednesday night so it is a pretty low time commitment, and we would love to have you join us.

But whatever you do, do not just sit on the sidelines and not pay attention or care enough to do anything. Your future, Iowa’s future, and the country’s future is too important to do that.

If you have any questions about how to become involved with these organizations, or just on how to make your voice heard, please do not hesitate to email me at [email protected], or [email protected]

Signed,

Alex Sekora (‘19)

President, Luther College Democrats

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