A Republican member of the Iowa House is making appearances on state, national and even international talk shows to discuss his “suck it up, buttercup” bill.
Representative Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton wants to cut taxpayer funding for Iowa, Iowa State or UNI if the universities spend money on grief counseling for students upset about the presidential election.
“In all fairness, there’s a huge percentage of college students that are normal, responsible adults,” Kaufmann said today on KSCJ radio, “but there are too many that are being coddled and in my opinion they’re not being prepared for the real world because you don’t get to go to a cry room when life hands you lemons.”
Officials with the three state universities say they are not spending money on “cry rooms” or other services specifically for students upset about the election. Kaufmann’s proposed bill would also increase penalties for protesters who block public roads.
“It was in my district, just outside of it, with my constituents where they protested and shut down Interstate 80. I had a constituent from Bennett, Iowa, who has a blood disorder who if the protest would have lasted at a time when she needed her medication, she would have died,” Kaufmann said.
Kaufmann, the son of Iowa GOP chairman Jeff Kaufmann, said he was annoyed to see colleges in other states offering counseling sessions for college students upset about Donald Trump’s election. Kaufmann has taken his beef to the airwaves, with appearances on national outlets like Fox News and local radio stations in Iowa.
“It’s a little surreal that I’m getting literally dozens upon dozens of media requests, thousands of emails across the country,” Kaufmann said. “I never fathomed it would become what it’s become.”
According to Kaufmann, the reaction he’s gotten online is positive by a 10-to-one ratio.
“A lot of the negatives I get are from people that the message is directed at and they come at me with these profanity-laced, threat-laced emails and I’ve come up with a term for them,” Kaufmann said. “They’re keyboard cowboys.”
The Iowa Democratic Party issued a statement today, saying as a “young Republican leader,” Kaufmann had an opportunity after the election to “bring the people of Iowa together,” but instead chose “callous comments that threaten the free speech” rights of students.
On Wednesday, the top Republican in the legislature was asked if now “is the time to tell the buttercups to suck it up.”
This is House Speaker Linda Upmeyer’s answer: “We do have one member doing that…There’s room for disagreement. There’s always room for disagreement, but this is a time to focus on opportunities that present themselves and giving people chances. I mean, we had an election and we have the results of the election and we need to move forward. I think focusing on forward is a really positive thing.”
(Reporting by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)