Carly Fiorina: Power to the People

Posted: November 1, 2015 | By: Iowa Caucus Project Staff Tagged: Blog
Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina speaks to Iowa voters in Indianola. Photo by Aaron Feldman.

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina speaks to Iowa voters in Indianola. Photo by Aaron Feldman.

Pulling up to the Indianola Activity Center, one would not have guessed a presidential candidate would soon be speaking. Men and women sat around, eagerly anticipating Carly Fiorina’s arrival. The room itself looked like church lobby, where members would reunite for gossip after a long service. Instead, attendees were just lining up for a home-cooked spaghetti dinner served out of a crockpot when Fiorina entered.

She went around to the tables, introducing herself and stopping for the occasional selfie. I spoke to a few attendees, and although they were still making up their minds on who to vote for, Fiorina’s warmth was clearly winning them over.

Taking the podium, her speech seemed to focus on one thing above all: power to the people. And the people loved her message. Fiorina spoke of how corrupt the government had become, favoring wealthy elites over small business owners.

Namely, she called for radical simplification of the tax code to help these small businesses. She cited the fact that roughly 60 percent of Americans need professional help for their taxes. She said that when the tax code is almost 75,000 pages long, only lawyers and corporations can make it work to their advantage, creating a disadvantage for those without political elite status. Fiorina proposed that as president, she would shorten the tax code to about three pages, eliminate loopholes to help these small businesses, and cut the size of the IRS. I am unsure what a three-page tax code what look like, and it frankly sounds impractical if not impossible for me. However, the crowd nodded at and affirmed practically everything she had to say on this topic.

Second, she criticized the growing power of government bureaucracies operated by unelected officials. These agencies, she argued, are able to yield vast amounts of power and are not held accountable for their actions. As Rep. David Young elaborated, government bureaucrats do not even have to put their name on policies they are enacting. Fiorina was especially critical of the EPA’s Clean Water Rule, which she said would limit economic growth. Although I agree that more transparency in the bureaucracies may be a good thing, limiting their power might not be. If their powers were limited, who would assume those duties? The government? Such an idea leaves complicated issues in the hands of members of Congress, not the policy experts themselves.

Although not stated explicitly, I was under the impression she favored making bureaucrat positions elected positions. However, an election system would perhaps favor well-spoken lawyer types than a policy expert with the necessary expertise for the job. Furthermore, there are hundreds of thousands of bureaucratic positions. Would there be elections for all of them? I think Fiorina’s plan, although good in theory, may need a little more hashing out.

In perhaps her most transparent gesture of the night, Fiorina also said she would utilize an app to poll the people on public opinion. For example, the app would ask “Do you favor this proposal?” and then the user would press one for yes or two for no. Fiorina said that the most important quality of leadership is to unlock the potential in others, and this involves listening to them. She would be the people’s president, listening to their opinions on this app. However, I imagine most, if not all, politicians consider what is popular before taking an action. What is worrisome to me, however, is her willingness to simply listen to what is popular. A leader does not always do what is popular, she does what is right. Although the founding fathers definitely feared government growing too large, they also feared the people growing too powerful. The average person is largely uneducated on most policy matters, and it may not be wise to simply follow the trend, despite her desire to listen to the people.

The average Iowan is tired of being unheard. In the 1930s, Iowa had a whopping 11 representatives in Congress. Because the national population has been growing at a faster pace than Iowa’s population since the 1930s, Iowa has been losing representation ever since. For many Iowans, it was particularly insulting when their fifth representative was taken away in 2010, reducing congressional representation to a measly four. Meanwhile, already huge states like Texas and Florida gained seats. Fed up with the dissolution of the Republican Party and even more frustrated by their inability to fix it, Fiorina promised to take their opinions into account and fight for the little guy. In my opinion, Fiorina’s proposals were far-fetched and poorly thought-out, but she told the people what they wanted to hear: that they will be heard.

IMG_1206Feldman is a political science and data analytics double major from Clarendon Hills, Illinois. He loves Bruce Springsteen and poorly attempting his songs on guitar. Follow him on Twitter.