Washington Evening Journal
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I published about 120 columns in The Gazette in 2021. Sometimes my loyal readers were kind enough to write back to share their own thoughts — usually to complain.
The fun thing about being a libertarian in a political era marked by fierce negative partisanship is that you get it from all sides. People of every political persuasion got in touch to air their grievances against my vision for radically limited government.
“Libertarianism is not going to save our nation. A bunch of stoners who are microfocused on some things but don't see the bigger picture,” Twitter user “Liberals Hate America” wrote.
“Sullivan often claims to be promoting a freer society but many of us interpret his views as attempts to architect a darker, more dangerous and criminalized world.”
In June, I wrote a column about a law in Iowa that’s supposedly meant to ban “critical race theory” in Iowa schools. The legislation is contemptuous to free expression. (“Threat of ‘critical race theory’ in Iowa schools is a specter of Republican lawmakers’ imagination,” June 3).
The Steve Deace Show, a right-wing program on Blaze TV hosted by a former Iowa radio host, invited me to “debate” the issue. His fans said I didn’t have the guts to do it.
“He wouldn't dare. He is The Gazette's authorized ‘libertarian’ mouthpiece. He won't go unscripted,” one person wrote on Twitter.
But I did dare and it was fine. I was glad for the opportunity to bring a socially tolerant message to a socially conservative audience.
I had a couple run-ins in 2021 with Iowa Auditor Rob Sand, the Twitter personality beloved by Iowa Democrats.
In May, Sand criticized Gov. Kim Reynolds’ for $0 budget increases for Iowa’s crowded prisons. In fact, I rebutted, Iowa’s annual corrections budget is almost half a billion dollars and legislators passed a $20 million funding increase in 2021. (“The only safe prison is an empty one,” Aug. 9).
And in December, I criticized Sand for his vengeful proposal to guarantee prison time for government employees who steal large sums of money. Taking away the option of deferred sentences is exactly the opposite of what Iowa needs to do to reverse our incarceration crisis. (“Rob Sand is Iowa’s bipartisan incarceration champion,” Dec. 10).
The ever-affable Sand offered his own guest column in response, explaining why it is actually good to put people in prison. (“Sand: Ensure prison time for public employees who steal taxpayer money,” Dec. 13).
“I don’t claim to be perfect, just different,” Sand wrote.
In a world where tough-on-crime policies seem to be the only ones both parties agree on, I’m not sure how different Sand really is.
In September, I wrote about fear mongering over China during a special election for a suburban Des Moines seat in the Iowa Legislature. Borrowing themes from the Cold War, the Republican and Democratic campaigns each accused the other of being communist stooges. (“A red scare in the special election for Iowa House District 37,” Sept. 20).
The Gazette newsroom received an anonymous letter in the mail titled, “Who is Gazette columnist Sullivan really working for?” Spoiler: I’m working for the Chinese Communist Party, allegedly.
“Sullivan, like the Libertarian, Conservative and Trumpian ideologues he speaks for, recommends more free trade, less regulation and less government oversight,” they wrote.
I can assure you the Trump folks don’t think of me as their spokesman. The mysterious letter writer must be confused.
In December, I called out President Joe Biden and the federal bureaucracy for failing to ease regulations on at-home coronavirus testing. The holidays were approaching and I was one of the many Iowans scrambling to find tests before visiting family. (“Maybe Santa Claus delivers rapid COVID-19 tests to Iowa,” Dec. 20)
That substantive criticism and relatively mild criticism was too much to handle for a few die-hard Biden groupies.
“If you truly believe there is nothing to be done about COVID then why waste your and your readers’ time with columns about it? Pick a lane,” a reader wrote to me in an email.
Pick a lane, they say: Acquiesce to nonsensical federal regulations or risk your grandma’s health during family Christmas. Not really much of a choice.
In March, I offered up some suggestions after legislators said Iowa needed new highway signs at the state border. (“Next Weed Store 679 Miles: Ideas for new ‘Welcome to Iowa’ signs,” March 4). Love it or leave it was one of the responses.
“I believe Mr. Sullivan would be happier in another state. Where he can sit with his friends at Dave and Buster’s, smoke the good stuff, drinking some exotic craft beer, griping about taxes, while watching Simpson reruns,” one reader wrote in a letter to the Maquoketa Sentinel-Press.
In November, I wrote about the scourge of semiannual time changes brought on by daylight saving time. (“Reject federal overreach by keeping your clocks set to daylight saving time,” Nov. 8). That was “yet another foray into branded idiocy,” according to one critic.
“Sullivan often claims to be promoting a freer society but many of us interpret his views as attempts to architect a darker, more dangerous and criminalized world,” the critic wrote.
My current business card says columnist, but I think “architect of darkness, danger and crime” has a nice ring to it.
Happy new year, especially to the haters and losers.
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