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Good government and ethical leadership are the foundation of political transformation.  Profound moral leadership enables people to trust that complex changes are being done for the right reasons, rather than the lobbyist-driven, “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine” style politics that our generation despises.

At a deeper level, we hold true that government derives its powers from “the consent of the governed.”  When we remove our trust, then consent is removed and the government should be replaced with a form and leadership that can do its job.

At The Iowa Dream Project, we believe in measurable goals.  Good and ethical government can be measured through the natural outcome of ethical behavior: Trust.  Researchers use a simple question, “Do you trust the government to do the right thing?” 

The answer is somewhere between “No” and “Hell, No!”  In 2008, the number of Americans that trusted governmental leaders to do the right thing was at 17%.  Two years of hope and change have done nothing; in 2010 that number staggered to a measly 22%.  The number that believes that we can “Never trust our government” is at an all-time high.  Distrust is deep and bi-partisan.  Trust is gone.  Consent has been removed, and it is time for deep, structural change that fixes the two reasons people have stopped trusting government to deliver.

The two obstacles of good government: Stupidity and Corruption.  When government does stupid things, like wasteful infrastructure (i.e. The Bridge to Nowhere) or senseless economic policy (i.e. price caps on commodities, causing massive shortages), we debate policy changes.

When government turns corrupt, and the leaders raid the public good for personal gain, whether paid in money, power or celebrity, we are justified to express outrage.  We hold our public servants to a higher standard, because we know bad government leads to ruin.  Simply put, corruption is evil.

In Iowa, we do not have to look far for an example.  Our unfortunate neighbor, Illinois, has become synonymous with bad government.  Fiscal child abuse (i.e. chronic deficits) is the norm.  Governors engage in pay-to-play politics (“Psst, hey buddy, wanna buy a Senate seat?”). And rumor has it that voter fraud allows one to continue to vote long after death.

Iowa is too close for comfort.  We are slouching toward our own Chicago-style politics.  These head-lines tell the story of open wounds in the public trust:

  • IASB Scandal: Top education officials raise their own salaries to exorbitant levels, and skirt rules requiring accountability.  Iowa by-passed open bidding rules to funnel $3.5 million to the IASB, which is now under FBI investigation 
  • Film Office Scandal: Iowa’s Department of Economic Development (IDED) apparently used taxpayer money to pay for, among other extravagances, a Hollywood film producer’s luxury vehicles. The head of IDED, arguably Iowa’s highest profile non-elected official, resigned as a result.
  • Legislator Tuition Scandal: A state representative is being prosecuted for gaming the system and stealing from the taxpayers by falsifying a living address. 
  • Casino-Kickback Scandal: Follow the money on the Ft. Dodge casino scandal.  A casino operator hires lobbyists for $25,000, who promptly gave $25,000 to an elected officeholder’s campaign account.  The officer then pressures his team to approve the casino operator’s license. 

Iowans are forgiving folk, but we are not that stupid! 

Let’s talk about The Iowa Dream, because this is not it!  Trust must be earned back through the hard work of good, ethical leadership.  We should elect leaders who have a track record of true service in their communities, families and churches, not just professional politics.  We must value those who see us as people to humbly serve, not as votes to win.

What we need is restoration of trust-worthy leadership.  This is the stand of The Iowa Dream Project.  With your help, we will begin.

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