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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 19, 2017

Ralph Holmstrom runs for District 84 House seat

By Andy Hallman | Apr 16, 2014
Ralph Holmstrom

Republican Ralph Holmstrom is running for the Iowa House of Representatives in District 84, the seat currently occupied by Republican Dave Heaton.
District 84 encompasses all of Henry County as well as portions of Washington, Jefferson and Lee counties. Heaton announced in January that he plans to seek re-election.
Holmstrom has never held elected office before and said politics is something he’s gotten into fairly recently. He grew up in Burlington and moved to Mt. Pleasant in 1987, where he has lived ever since. He has worked full time at Shottenkirk Chevrolet in Mt. Pleasant for the past 23 years.
The Burlington native said he became interested in politics when he realized the Iowa of today is not the state he grew up in.
“Our values have changed,” he said. “Iowa is not the state we inherited from our grandparents. Our prelude to the state’s constitution says we are grateful to the Supreme Being for blessings here received. When you go to the House or the Senate, you will hear them open in the morning with a prayer. At the end of the prayer, there is a resounding ‘Amen.’ And yet, we don’t seem to get it right when it comes to the sanctity of life and holy matrimony between one man and one woman.”
Holmstrom describes himself as a social and fiscal conservative. He said he wishes social issues received more attention in the Legislature than they currently do.
“Abortion is the tip of a spear,” he said. “If you don’t get that right, nothing else matters. There is a movement under foot to give [fetuses] personhood. Georgia has passed it, and Texas is working on a version of it. Why can’t we?”
Holmstrom said he believes life begins at conception and ends at natural death. He said that under the personhood legislation passed in Georgia, abortion could only be administered to protect the health of the mother.
“As long as I’ve been on this earth, I haven’t run into any woman who would die if she gave birth,” he said. “I’m sure those cases are out there, but they are very rare.”
Holmstrom describes marriage between a man and a woman, another issue he’s deeply concerned about, as the backbone of civilization.
“Nature supports it. Science supports it. God supports it,” he said. “I’m not running against my opponent so much as I am running for the state of Iowa, for my grandkids and everyone’s grandkids.”
The Iowa Supreme Court struck down a ban on same-sex marriage in April 2009. In light of the court’s decision, Holmstrom said he would like the state to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
Other goals Holmstrom has for the state are to lower taxes and make the tax rate flatter and more family-friendly. He said Iowa is one of only a handful of states that tax senior citizens on their Social Security benefits. He mentioned he is a strong supporter of vouchers to give parents greater freedom as to where to send their children to school.
“It causes the schools to perform well,” Holmstrom said. “Indiana has done a good job with vouchers, and Arizona is a textbook case. Somehow, they seem to get it right.”
Holmstrom said he has been campaigning since January. He’s a little surprised how often his clients at work bring up political topics to discuss. He realized many of the things his customers wanted to change about state government were the same things he wanted to change, which is what made him seek political office.
“A number of people feel like they have been denied their right to vote on [same-sex marriage],” he said.
When Holmstrom is not campaigning he enjoys spending time with his wife, who was his high school sweetheart, their four daughters and eight grandchildren, all of whom live in southeast Iowa. He is a member of Faith Christian Outreach Church and Kiwanis Club, and was a member of the Henry County United Way board for three years.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Apr 25, 2014 18:04

The American founders—Anti-Federalists and Federalists alike—considered rule by majority a troubling conundrum. In theory, majority rule was necessary for expressing the popular will and the basis for establishing the republic. But the founders worried that the majority could abuse its powers to oppress a minority just as easily as a king. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison both warn in their letters about the dangers of the tyranny of the legislature and of the executive. Madison, alluding to slavery, went further, writing, "It is of great importance in a republic, not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part."

A half century after the United States was established, Alexis de Tocqueville saw the majority's tyranny over political and social minorities as "a constant threat" to American democracy in his pre–Civil War travels. While visiting the state of Pennsylvania, when he asked why no free blacks had come to vote in a local election he was observing, he was told that "while free blacks had the legal right to vote, they feared the consequences of exercising it." Thus, he wrote, "the majority not only makes the laws, but can break them as well."

Democracy therefore requires minority rights equally as it does majority rule. Indeed, as democracy is conceived today, the minority's rights must be protected no matter how singular or alienated that minority is from the majority society; otherwise, the majority's rights lose their meaning. In the United States, basic individual liberties are protected through the Bill of Rights, which were drafted by James Madison and adopted in the form of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. These enumerate the rights that may not be violated by the government, safeguarding—in theory, at least—the rights of any minority against majority tyranny. Today, these rights are considered the essential element of any liberal democracy.


Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Apr 22, 2014 22:54

Mona Charen

Mona Charen


When Pew asked women voters to rank a list of issues in order of importance in September 2012, abortion was named less often than health care, education, jobs, Medicare, the economy, terrorism, taxes, foreign policy and the budget deficit. The only issues that ranked lower for women voters were immigration and energy. A post-election Kaiser poll found only 7 percent of those who voted for President Barack Obama cited women's issues as most important to their vote.

It's true single women tend to favor Democrats, but that isn't an abortion vote; it's a vote for security. American women are about equally divided between the pro-life and pro-choice positions, with the seesaw sometimes tilting a bit one way and sometimes the other, depending upon the polling question. Most Americans, including most of those who describe themselves as pro-choice, are comfortable with restrictions on abortion after 12 weeks gestation.

What Americans do recoil from is perceived extremism, and that's where Republicans need to learn their lines. In 2012, some Republicans seemed ill-informed and insensitive about rape and pregnancy. The press and the Democrats will always frame questions to abortion opponents as "you oppose abortion even in cases of rape and incest." It's up to Republican candidates to remind audiences that it is Democrats who are the extremists on this question. A possible response: "There are some rare and very tragic cases of pregnancies caused through rape and incest. They represent less than 2 percent of all abortions performed in the U.S. yearly. (Source: Alan Guttmacher Institute). My opponent, however, favors no restrictions on abortion whatsoever. Not for sex selection. Not at six months gestation. Not when the baby can survive outside the womb. Not at nine months gestation. In some cases, not even after a baby is born alive following a failed attempt at abortion."

Sen. Barbara Boxer, whom everyone agrees is a mainstream Democrat, once explained that life begins when you take the baby home from the hospital.

Democrats actually don't like to talk about abortion much. They know that voters are not with them, so they disguise what they're for with euphemisms like "choice" and "women's health." Lately, they've added contraception to the mix to weave their haunting tale of a Republican "war on women."

Who's against contraception? The only Republican on the national stage who has said anything remotely akin to opposing birth control was Rick Santorum. Santorum is a thoughtful guy -- not always a bonus in a candidate. He mused that contraception had been, on balance, a bad deal for women. He also revealed that he and his wife didn't use it, which is way more than we needed or wanted to know. Still, not even Santorum ever said that he would vote to outlaw it.

The Democrats were sly. Obama's Department of Health and Human Services slipped a mandate into Obamacare that requires all insurers to provide contraceptives for free. Not just to indigent women, but to all women. There is already a federal subsidy providing free contraceptives for the poor. In 2010, we spent $2.37 billion for family-planning services. It's the Democrats' great innovation to force middle-class women to subsidize contraceptive purchases by wealthy women.

Republican candidates who are accused of being against birth control because they oppose Obamacare should enjoy explaining that declining to subsidize something is not equivalent to opposing it. I decline to subsidize gun purchases by all American males. Does that make me anti-man? Anti-gun? I decline to subsidize gym memberships for all teenagers. Does that make me pro-obesity? I decline to subsidize farmers -- oh wait, we already do that, but I wish I could refuse. And the same goes for our subsidies of green energy companies, the NFL, big banks, transportation and thousands of other things.

Women voters are not an army of Sandra Flukes, flocking to the polls for their free diaphragms and limitless abortions, but they do flinch from extremists. It's up to Republican candidates to illustrate who the real extremists are.

Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Apr 17, 2014 21:47

Janet Mock

Groundbreaking author and transgender activist Janet Mock will discuss her best-selling book during Pride Week. It’s important that people get to see someone like Janet Mock speak about her life and struggle,” says Javon Garcia ’14, a senior in gender, women’s, and sexuality studies. Mock will give the keynote address at 8 p.m. Monday, April 21, in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101, Grinnell College. Mock is the author of Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. “Her writing is so beautiful,” says Garcia, a native of Laurel, Md. “Every word of it comforted me, and I wanted to read more and more.” Mock is a writer, activist, and founder of #girlslikeus: an online project on Twitter and Tumblr meant to provide a space for trans women to share their stories and connect with each other across colors, generations, sexual identities, and class. A native of Honolulu, Mock attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa and earned her master’s degree in journalism from New York University. Mock’s memoir was published in February and earned a spot on The New York Times’ best-seller list.

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