Editorial | Reynolds’ loyalty lies with the Republican Party

The DI Editorial Board analyzes Gov. Kim Reynolds’ rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.


DI Editorial Board

As she took the national spotlight with the golden Iowa Capitol dome behind her Tuesday night, Iowa Gov. Reynolds accused President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress of spending the past year “either ignoring the issues facing Americans or making them worse.”

Among her criticisms for the administration was soaring inflation and crime, weak foreign policy, and sending the country “back in time.”

The current presidential administration should be criticized when it falls short, but Reynolds’ attacks were largely unfounded and ignored Biden’s successes. With COVID-19 policy, we saw the president put Americans first and create policy to help navigate the country through the pandemic.

The signing of the American Rescue Plan was an early win for Biden, where the $1.9 trillion package gave direct payments to Americans, extended federal unemployment benefits, and provided a temporary child tax credit.

The second success was the COVID-19 vaccination program. When Biden first took office, he inherited a program with supply constraints, yet he was able to make strides with vaccine supply.

Biden produced and delivered 500 million COVID-19 vaccinations in his first year in office, and now 75 percent of the population has at least one dose. When Americans were anxiously awaiting a vaccine to combat the virus, Biden delivered on his promise and supplied the protection we sought.

The Biden administration certainly has its shortcomings — He hasn’t done enough to address the threat of climate change; he’s failed to rein in his own party and pass his ambitious social spending agenda; he hasn’t reformed immigration policy and has kept much of former President Trump’s harmful practices.

But for Reynolds to denounce the administration for making American lives worse is an overstatement, especially as her chief accomplishment is doing very little to stop COVID-19.

In Reynolds’ eyes, Biden’s foreign policy has “consistently been too little, too late.”

The statement comes as Russia invades Ukraine, a situation Biden has promised U.S. troops will not be involved in. Reynold’s call for unity and solidarity with Ukraine was tinted with her thoughts on previous foreign moves under Biden, including the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, which the Iowa governor called “disastrous.”

However, any substantial critiques of Biden’s foreign policy were left out to loosely criticize rising inflation America faces under the Biden administration.

Both Biden and Reynolds emphasized their support for keeping schools open. Biden focused on our progress addressing COVID-19 while Reynolds highlighted her initiative with Iowa being the first state to keep kids in school despite the virus.

Reynolds thought she was driving her point home by referring to how she “actually listened to the science” when keeping schools open. However, the science did not seem to back this decision.

In July of 2020, Reynolds said Iowa’s schools must have at least half of their teaching done in-person. Schools were allowed to offer some online opportunities that parents could choose from; however, districts had to get approval from the state to move operations fully online.

Ironically, at this same exact time Iowa faced a new daily record of 879 COVID-19 cases and the U.S. had reported a record high of 75,600 COVID-19 cases. Even further, during spring 2020 with schools closed, cases were much lower than July 2020 where the state was facing over double the amount of cases and more hospitalizations.

As Reynolds noted in her speech many people criticized this decision due to the lack of safety measures put into place.

At this point in the pandemic there were no vaccines and no mask mandates which directly conflicted with recommendations from the White House Coronavirus Task Force as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics which both suggested at least some measures to mitigate the spread of the virus.

While keeping schools open is always ideal for learning as well as providing children with meals and other services, there are measures that need to be in place to keep students safe. Some of the things Biden mentioned that will keep kids in school are more antiviral medications and more free at-home test kits.

According to Reynolds, Americans are tired of “politicians who tell parents they should sit down, be silent, and let the government control their kids’ education and future.”

Reynolds emphasized the Republicans “parents matter” rhetoric and accused Democrats of ignoring the concerns parents have in the classroom. But Republicans’ approach in the classroom is not pro-parent, it’s an attempt to censor and intimidate teachers.

Republicans also introduced a bill that would allow parents to sue schools — teachers and administrators — over obscene material in the classroom. But, this material is not obscene, rather material that features stories of Black, Hispanic and LGBTQ people. As much as Reynolds wants to push this rhetoric as pro-parent, this legislation is an attempt to scare teachers from topics Republicans see as a political disadvantage.

Of course, the “pro-parent” attitude is just political posturing, as Reynolds and her party have consistently limited options for parents. Parents who want their transgender children to have the same athletic opportunities as their peers don’t have a choice. Parents who want their kids to learn the reality of racism and oppression in this country don’t have a choice.

Tuesday’s display showed one thing clearly — Reynolds’ priorities are with the GOP and her place in it, not with the safety, health, and prosperity of Iowans.

Editorials reflect the majority opinion of the DI Editorial Board and not the opinion of the publisher, Student Publications Inc., or the University of Iowa.

Editorial board members are Caleb McCullough, Rylee Wilson, Josie Fischels, Hannah Pinski, Sophia Meador, and Yassie Buchanan.