By Megan Lehman
In my writing and life, I make it no secret that I am a passionate proponent of bipartisanship. And I am picking up the pen once again to voice my concern on the matter. I live in Iowa. On Wednesday, my state passed an abortion law, the Fetal Heartbeat Bill which, if enacted, would make Iowa’s the hardest stance on the controversial topic in the country. This bill states that once a heartbeat is heard, an abortion is no longer an option.
Legislators, activists, and citizens a like took to the state capitol to voice their support and frustration about this bill. Many took to the stage wearing shirts that said “The GOP: creating government small enough to fit in your vagina.”
Many may be shocked to learn this, but not all Democrats are pro-choice, just as not all Republicans are pro-life. We each have our reasons for our thinking in this process, but assuming what one believes simply because of their political party is a dangerous habit.
In saying that I want to also state that in Iowa’s Republican-run state government, it would appear that most support republican’s do support this bill. But T-shirts and statements like this, especially coming from our legislators do nothing but create fuel the fire of partisanship.
While competing in Washington D.C. at the Young Women to Watch Awards, I had the honor of meeting Texas Rep. Will Hurd. Representative Hurd, a Republican, and fellow Texas Rep. Beto O’Rurke, a Democrat, both fell victim to a snowstorm in March which caused their flights back to Washington impossible.
These two statesmen took to the road together and held, as O’Rourke stated, “the longest cross-country livestream town hall in the history of the world.” On this ride, the two answered questions, held sing-a-longs, and, overall, had a good time. When they got back to DC, they ended up signing on to support each other’s legislation. This is bipartisanship.
Our government is in a constant game of tug and war between which political party has control. And each time we add voices from both sides of the rope who are willing to work together, the struggle to maintain the identity and the power that we believe that identity brings becomes even more intense. And once we are able to finally set the rope down and shake hands, our world will change drastically.
To be clear, I am not asking for all politicians to give up their ideals simply in the name of compromise. Doing so would create nothing but chaos. What I am asking for, however, is that we come to the table ready to work, negotiate, and create something that is best for the whole country. Not just the Democrats. And not just the Republicans.
Because for those who have not yet noticed, our country is hardly made up of anyone who completely meets the by the book definition of either of these political parties. We need to know that getting everything we want is not possible and learn to recognize the strength our government will find in compromise.
I have previously written about communication I had with a long-term Iowa State Representative. In this communication, I was asking the representative to support my fundraising campaign for a non-partisan organization that works to bring more women to politics. The representative let me know just how strongly she felt about non-partisan organizations and the Republican women that can sometimes come out of those organizations.
Apparently, the risk of producing more Republican women and allowing them to jump in to the fray is not worth the benefit of helping women in general get a better foot hold in government.
And this is exactly the attitude that I want to fight against. I am challenging you to hold your elected officials accountable to bipartisanship because that is the only way we will move forward. I am dedicated to voting for people who will work to tear down this divide rather than build it up. I hope you will be too.