Former Rep. David Young visits UI, talks future of Republican Party

The discussion was hosted by the Iowa Board of Regents, the University of Iowa Public Policy Center, and the UI College of Law.


Larry Phan

Former Republican Iowa Representative David Young speaks at the Future of the Republican Party event in the Old Capitol Senate Chamber on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021.

Natalie Dunlap, Politics Editor

Former U.S. Rep. David Young, R-Iowa, delivered a speech on the changing political landscape and nature of the Republican and Democratic parties at the Old Capitol Senate Chambers on Wednesday night.

Young was one of three keynote speakers at the third conversation as part of a series on policy challenges for Iowa and the country from the state Board of Regents, the University of Iowa Public Policy Center, and the UI College of Law.

About 30 people attended the discussion, which focused on the future of the Republican Party.

“Politics, I know, it can make us cynical, and jaded, and to many of us, it seems like a sport or a game. Some see it as an art,” Young said.

Young shared how he has seen the parties change over the years, like how Republicans traditionally embrace free trade, but accepted tariffs former President Donald Trump imposed on China.

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“I believe peace abroad brings peace of mind to Americans and I believe peace is good politics,” he said. “However, Republican presidents have been more hawkish than dovish, and not just at beating enemies, but nation-building, and establishing more permanent military presence abroad.”

He also said social issues are playing into voting more, such as vaccine mandates or critical race theory. As The Daily Iowan has previously reported, the theory is rooted in legal academia and not widely taught in K-12 education, though there has been nationwide pushback against critical race theory in school districts.

Young, represented Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District from 2015 to 2019. He lost reelection in 2018 to current Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, and he lost his challenge to Axne in 2020.

Alan Abramowitz, another keynote speaker at the event and a professor of Political Science at Emory University, shared a presentation with some of the GOPs advantages in upcoming elections, including being the oppositional party, President Joe Biden’s approval rate falling, and Democratic divisions being exacerbated by the narrow majority.

He also pointed out weaknesses in the party, which he identified as catering to white grievances and xenophobia, hostility to science, opposition of abortion and gay rights, and an association with right-wing extremism and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

“Donald Trump’s domination of the Republican Party is a serious problem in my view for Republicans and the Republican Party,” Abramowitz said.

Chris Hagenow, a reactor from Iowans for Tax Relief, said, however, that Trump won significantly in Iowa.

“I’d like to encourage people to look past President Trump and certain things that he may have said or whatever and look at the issues with the things that he advocated for,” Hagenow said.

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