CEDAR RAPIDS — They admit they lost the election, but representatives of more than 30 progressive organizations made it clear at the Statehouse Monday that they aren’t going away.
Instead, representatives of public employee unions, women’s health care providers, LGBTQ rights and environmental groups had a message for the GOP majority in the Iowa Legislature. Progressive, Connie Ryan of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, said progressives “are fighting back against the legislative attacks we know are coming.”
After the election in which Iowans gave Republicans control of the Iowa House and Senate, and governor’s office, for the first time since the 1997-98 session, progressives “began to hear the conservative agenda loud and clear and what that shift would really mean for everyday Iowans,” she said.
“Iowa conservatives have long been chomping at the bit to take us backward and destroy the civil rights of people who are LGBTQ, weaken public education, undermine worker rights, block access to reproductive health care for women, erase any commonsense gun laws that promote public safety, suppress the rights of voters who disagree with them and much more,” Ryan said.
The election — both national and state — has left many Americans “alienated and fearing for their futures,” said Erin Davison Rippey of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.
“In Iowa, our state has shifted from a fair and balanced state government to one that is controlled by right-wing extremist … eager to enact a dangerous agenda that threatens the health, safety and livelihood of so many Iowans,” she said.
Nathan Blake of the Latino rights group LULAC and the Asian & Latino Coalition, called GOP-proposed voter ID legislation an “all-out assault on the fundamental right to vote” and a “21st Century poll tax.”
Despite the tone of their remarks, Ryan said the intent is not to be “in your face oppositional,” but to tell lawmakers “our voices are here, we are here, we are not going away.”
Progressives, she said, want to work with the GOP majority, “but more times than not we have been shut out of those conversations.”
The intent was to put the GOP majority on notice that progressive “are not going to just hold on until the next election,” said Mary Jane Cobb, executive director of the Iowa State Education Association.
“We have to continue to advocate, to be out in the community because it matters,” Cobb said.
AFSCME President Danny Homan pointed to an Iowa flag in the rotunda to remind people of the state motto: “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.”
Progressives must do everything they can to make sure those liberties and rights are not “taken away from us by a party or a group of people who wants to push an agenda that is only serving to them and to their donors,” Homan said. “That’s our flag. Let’s go defend it.”