In a word, outgoing Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack is decent. He epitomises midwestern commonsense and unassuming humility. Hearing the man speak however, one gets the sense that still waters run deep. Tom Vilsack is a compassionate, take-charge progressive. He isn’t afraid of thinking and being bold. Midwesterners are more often than not pegged as being bland and boring. Being born and bred in the midwest myself, I can relate.
My blog postings so far have rarely mentioned other potential presidential contenders beside Obama and Hillary. I intend to step up my examination of others in the field, the first of which is Governor Vilsack. The Governor is a fine man with good stage presence and an acceptable record of accomplishment that is far more than someone with a DLC affilliation is supposed to hold.
As an African American, what speaks to me loudest about the Governor’s record is his Executive Order restoring voting rights every disenfranchised felon in the state. With the stroke of a pen, he restored voting rights to 50,000 people. Granted, Iowa has an extremely small African American population, but because of our disproportionate incarceration rates, we were more negatively impacted by felony disenfranchisement. Governor Warner of Virginia, who had been exploring a presidential bid until he recently withdrew, refused to issue the same executive order in Virginia, a larger state with nearly 250,000 disenfranchised.
According to the Sentencing Project, more than 4.7 million in our nation are disenfranchised. Nearly 1.5million are permanently disenfranchised. Governor Vilsack struck a blow for liberty and democracy when he removed the barrier of permanent disenfranchisement. His executive order was challenged in the courts and his executive clemency and pardon power were affirmed. In my book, he deserves a profile in courage award for his willingness to stand on principle. I am reminded of the words of Lyndon Johnson when asking the Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act. “There is no constitutional issue here. The command of the Constitution is plain. There is no moral issue. It is wrong — deadly wrong — to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country. There is no issue of States rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights. …We cannot, we must not, refuse to protect the right of every American to vote in every election that he may desire to participate in.”
Gov. Tom Vilsack believes in that simple principle and would make an excellent replacement for the ignorant patrician appointed to the Presidency in 2000. Having said that, do I believe he can win the nomination? The jury is still out. Hillary, Barack Obama, and John Edwards still have the upper hand. I intend to go the convention as a delegate from my state and have an objective in mind that includes a Vice President of Color.