Uncertainty ahead


We brace ourselves in the wake of Tuesday’s election. A central part of Donald Trump’s campaign — in fact, his first pledge — was to deport more than 10 million undocumented immigrants, build a wall along the Mexican border and send the bill to Mexico, and rescind President Obama’s executive orders granting asylum to certain immigrants. If Trump was serious, and we must take him at his word, Storm Lake should be prepared to see deportations of hundreds upon hundreds of Latinos if they can be rounded up.

Many of them are children who were brought here by their parents when they were toddlers. They had no choice in the matter. Their prospect — again, if Trump can be taken at his word — is to get deported to a nation they never knew. Many don’t even speak Spanish. They just want to remain in Storm Lake.

So those who came above ground when Obama told them they had safe harbor will return underground. But they all have “Come and Get Me” stickers on their foreheads by signing up for the program and identifying their whereabouts. They will not be able to attend college when the Obama orders are rescinded. They will not be able to legally take jobs roofing or laying sod or flipping burgers. If they stay, they will always be looking over their shoulder for fear of forcible removal from the only home they know. They will live in a prison of uncertainty, and so will we who care about them.

We can only pray for them now. Because, really, they are on their own. No union is sticking up for them. Their employers aren’t. Trump certainly won’t. If employers in Northwest Iowa can’t find resident, legal labor, they simply will move their work elsewhere. Don’t think they cannot or will not.

THE BIGGEST NEWS in Iowa was the defeat of Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, after 34 years of dedicated public service. Republicans took control of the Senate, held the House and maintain the governorship. No state senator living west of Interstate 35 is a Democrat.

Of immediate concern: Gronstal had been the leading voice for a negotiated political and legal settlement of claims over agriculture and water quality. Gronstal had proposed a water quality summit after the November election that would have brought together the Des Moines Water Works, the three counties being sued by the water works, and state and federal political leaders in Storm Lake to forge a long-term water quality solution.

That deal is probably dead. It is more likely today that the lawsuit does not get settled, and that it is destined to be decided by a federal judge in Sioux City during a bench trial this summer. Gronstal is gone. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is a man without a job come January and no government prospects. Gov. Terry Branstad is opposed to a tax increase for water quality, as was the House. We can see no way forward to a political solution that could lead to a legal settlement under the posturing that led to the current political configuration, where the Farm Bureau is clearly in control.

Without Gronstal, we expect renewed calls for restoration of the death penalty in Iowa. Branstad has tried twice only to be thwarted by his old nemesis. We expect that mental health services will be tightened, and that the two remaining Mental Health Institutes will be closed. Education funding will remain in a tight noose, as over recent years it failed to keep pace with inflation. Private colleges in Iowa will continue to struggle for their very existence.

STORM LAKE has emerged as a reliably blue city. President Obama won it twice. Hillary Clinton won The City Beautiful handily. Sara Huddleston blew out Rep. Gary Worthan in Storm Lake. But each of them lost Buena Vista County by large margins. We mirrored the national electorate: In the more diverse cities Democrats ran up big tallies, but the rural areas swamped them.

It is clear evidence that the Branstad political operation remains keen. Despite increasingly blue cities, which are growing, the GOP remains able to wring more votes out of declining rural areas. Democrats believed they had the superior turnout machine but they had no message. Trump did. Make America Great Again. That’s all Branstad and Co. needed to paint Iowa red. Demographics are not destiny, as Democrats believed. The message is. And the message was: We are tired of getting the shaft by a system that is rigged against the working person. (Even though Donald Trump has cheated the people working for him repeatedly.) P.T. Barnum was right. Plenty of suckers born every minute have lapped up the nonsense offered by talk radio for 30 years.

It used to be that the Democratic Party represented the working person. Clinton never articulated a message that we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore. How could she when she is clothed and fed by Wall Street? She never even tried to speak with rural voters. Democrats again thought that Latinos would rise up and claim their stake. They rose up but were drowned out by a message of anger and frustration, not hope.

FAR BE IT from us to know how the world reacts, why the streets of Moscow cheered Trump’s election. He never missed an opportunity to jam a thumb in China’s eye, which is perhaps the most important single player in the global pork and corn markets. He said he would burn NAFTA and renegotiate it. Mexico and Canada are the biggest purchasers of Iowa ag products.

We don’t know how it all turns out. If you are a scared Latina teenager, thinking you will get ripped out of Storm Lake High School one cold February morning and shipped to an uncertain location, it probably won’t work out too well. Trump said he would do it. He said he would ship them out. The crowds cheered every time he mentioned it. He has to deliver now, doesn’t he?