Voters in the U.S. state of Iowa have highlighted a series of thorny issues facing the country in the election year, with the most prominent ones being healthcare and climate change.
In interviews with Xinhua, Iowa voters complained about an ongoing situation where so many issues that should have been dealt with locally are being decided at the federal level.
Their comments came just days ahead of the Iowa caucuses scheduled for Monday, during which voters of both the Republican and the Democratic parties will cast their first votes in their respective primaries.
While latest surveys showed that Trump is certain to seek re-election on behalf of the Republican Party, on the Democratic side, history over the past four decades suggests that the result of the Iowa caucuses is indicative of who the party’s presidential nominee will eventually be.
WASHINGTON GETTING TOO BIG
“Washington D.C. has been getting too big and there’s too much being determined at the federal level on issues that should be more local,” said Mark Hanson, a member of Dallas County Board of Supervisors.
Born into a family where his father was a school superintendent and his mother a librarian, Hanson considered himself “maybe (an) upper middle class” person. He said people in Dallas County and Iowa as a whole “want their services delivered close to where they live.”
Hanson said even though the responsibility indeed falls on the federal government when it comes to issues like national defense, or setting up a federal legal court system to provide an alternative avenue for resolving disputes that occur at the state level, it is still important for the president of the United States to reach out to local leaders.
Echoing Hanson, Mahaska County Supervisor Mark Groenendyk said that with regard to the upcoming election, the thing that concerns him the most is candidates’ ideas on the size of the government.
“Who’s going to promote bigger government versus who’s trying not to — that consumes a lot of issues because that’s about everything,” the 52-year-old said. “It’s probably good to slow down the overreaching size of the government.”
According to Groenendyk, issues related to healthcare, environment, trade and foreign affairs all require the federal government to make decisions based on consultation with state and local officials, and give local governments certain decision-making authorities instead of adopting a take-it-all-over approach.
Father of 11, Groenendyk raises cows and grows soybean and corn on a family farm in Mahaska County, some 100 km southeast of downtown Des Moines, capital of Iowa.
HEALTHCARE, CLIMATE CHANGE AMONG TOP CONCERNS
Both Hanson and Groenendyk expressed their frustration that healthcare has become too expensive for ordinary Americans during the last six to eight years, a period that covered former Democratic President Barack Obama’s second term and the Trump presidency till now.
In addition, they questioned the feasibility of Democratic proposals on healthcare, which in general call for expanded government involvement.
Healthcare is “very expensive,” Hanson said. “If you don’t have insurance, should the government be involved and how do you do that? There are many ideas on both sides, but we haven’t really spent a lot of money on healthcare-related matters; we don’t always know if it serves everybody.”
Healthcare is one of the “American issues that need to be better solved” irrespective of which party’s candidate becomes president, Hanson said, adding that politicians shouldn’t think that problems will be fixed simply by spending more money.
Groenendyk, for his part, said he is “very concerned” about the direction toward which the country’s healthcare policy evolves, especially in the next 10 years. Right now, he added, healthcare is “very expensive.”
Meanwhile, many Democratic voters are particularly worried about the danger posed by climate change. They blamed the Trump administration for ignoring the issue and thus accelerating the advent of a global crisis.
Emerging from a campaign event featuring Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the city of Newton in Iowa, Democratic voter Bruce Stinebrickner said climate change “is the number one issue” for him when deciding his vote.
“We live in the same world,” said Stinebrickner, a political science professor at DePauw University, a private liberal arts college in the state of Indiana, adding no other issue will matter “if the world is going up in flames.”
VOTERS AT ODDS
Trump prevailed against Democrat Hilary Clinton by 9.4 percentage points in Iowa in the 2016 election. It appears that Iowans, at least the majority of those interviewed by Xinhua, still tend to believe their state will support the president for four more years.
The Biden event in Newton on Thursday afternoon was attended by approximately 100 to 200 Democratic supporters, while the Trump rally held on the evening of the same day at Drake University’s basketball stadium in Des Moines attracted more than 7,000 participants.
Tim Traudt, 31, who also attended the Trump rally, said he believed the United States is “on the right direction” under Trump. A marketing consultant, Traudt hailed the Trump administration’s business deregulation, corporate tax cut, as well as increases in defense budget, among others.
Mary Blackledge, a retired teacher at the Biden event, said Biden is her only choice for next president.
“America has dropped so far in the last three years, and we need somebody that can on day one really start turning things around,” said Blackledge.
Stinebrickner said he would support Democratic candidate Tom Steyer, the billionaire hedge fund manager who in 2013 founded NextGen America — an advocacy nonprofit and political action committee.
“He’s the only candidate remaining in the race” who views climate change as a top priority, Stinebrickner said of Steyer. He admitted, however, that his favorite has little chance to get the nomination. Enditem