Iowa Governor and presidential hopeful Tom Vilsack will speak in Sioux City Wednesday afternoon. I’m hoping to go see him… I’ve got a few questions to ask. (I don’t mean for this post to sound mean-spirited or negative — I actually like Mr.Vilsack’s philosophies quite a bit, and he seems like a nice guy. But I do want some answers.)
I’m wondering how Mr. Vilsack’s programs will help my neighborhood if he’s elected President in 2008. I’m thinking of bringing him a few photos like this one of my neighbor’s garage (which has since been painted). I envision myself asking him why he allowed this sort of poverty and decay to happen in Iowa while he was Governor, and how it’ll be different when he’s President. I’d like to ask him why there are so many homeless people in town. John Edwards’ work to end poverty resonates very loudly in my neighborhood; what can Mr.Vilsack offer? Mr. Vilsack was elected in 1998, back when the minimum wage was $5.15 an hour. Eight years later, why is minimum wage still $5.15 an hour?
I’ve heard people grumbling that they elected Mr. Vilsack in 2002 to be Governor of Iowa for a four-year term and have only gotten three and a half years out of him, since he’s been concentrating on his presidential campaign for the past few months. I’m curious how Mr. Vilsack counters that particular bit of criticism. (If he says something akin to “It’s common practice,” or “It’s how the game is played,” I’ll have to wonder if, once elected President, he’ll bow to special interest groups or cater to Big Oil, as “that’s how the game is played.” I’m hoping that Mr. Vilsack is a man who will Do the Right Thing, regardless of what others around him do.)
I’d also like to ask him when he was in Sioux City last. Did he spend much time here? The meeting Wednesday is scheduled to start at 5:15. I noticed on his web site that he’s scheduled to be in Council Bluffs, a good hour down the road, at 7:45. That means that at most he can be in Sioux City for an hour and a half… Is that enough time to find out what our needs are? This section of the state is very conservative; I’m curious why Mr.Vilsack hasn’t spent more time in these parts. We need Democratic leadership to show an honest interest in us.
During much of Mr. Vilsack’s tenure as Iowa Governor he was working with a hostile state government, led until the midterm elections by Sioux City’s own über-conservative Chris Rants. It sure seemed to me that Mr. Rants, who was Iowa’s House Majority Leader at the time, set the agenda and made the state government dance to his tune. I’d like to ask Mr.Vilsack why he didn’t work harder to overcome the conservative Iowa House, and how he’d handle a similar situation if he were President.
I’d also like to ask him why the state’s fleet of automobiles aren’t all E85 hybrid vehicles. Mr. Vilsack is a strong proponent of alternative fuels; why isn’t Iowa doing more in that area? If elected President, what would Mr. Vilsack do about our current crisis? I imagine he’ll say the same things most candidates say. “We need to promote wind power. I’m all for expanding ethanol usage. We need to conserve.” I’m interested in HOW he plans to do that. Will he fund it via a gas tax? But I’m even more interested in trying to find out if he’s actually serious about it, or if he just gives lip service. Is he familiar with Brazil’s success in that area? One indication will be in what kind of vehicle he drives away. If he gets into an SUV to drive the hundred miles to Council Bluffs I’ll be disappointed.
I’d like to ask him where he was when the National Guard unit in LeMars returned from Iraq. And where he was the day they left, for that matter. It seems to me that someone who’s trying to get elected Commander in Chief of our armed forces, and who has been in charge of his state’s National Guard for eight years, might want to be seen rubbing elbows with soldiers from Iowa when they return from war.
I’d love to know if Mr. Vilsack is in the campaign to be President, or is he hoping to get on the ticket as someone else’s Vice President. But even if I asked that question, I wouldn’t trust the answer, though. Of course he’d say he was in it for all the marbles. Any other answer would be political suicide.
These questions and thoughts are all off the top of my head. Does anyone else have anything to add?
Again, I didn’t mean for this post to sound negative towards Mr. Vilsack, but I do have concerns about these issues… And I know that once I get to the meeting my natural shyness will kick in and I’ll stand in a corner in the back with a pocket full of photos, keeping my mouth shut, only to kick myself later for not speaking up.
The meeting is at the Elk’s Club, 1001 Tri-View Avenue, at 5:15 Wednesday, January 3 if anyone wants to attend. It’s open to the public as far as I know.