By Jerad Godsave–
The McConnell Center wrapped up a busy week on Oct. 21 by welcoming Iowa Senator Joni Ernst to speak. Ernst gave a free public lecture in Bigelow Hall, as well as meeting privately with McConnell Scholars beforehand.
Elected in Nov. 2014, Ernst is the first female combat veteran elected to serve in the U.S. Senate. She also retired from the Iowa National Guard as a lieutenant colonel in Nov. 2015. Prior to the National Guard, Ernst served in the United States Army Reserves from 1993 until 2001.
U.S. Senato Majority Leader and U of L alumnus Mitch McConnell spoke of Ernst’s service in ROTC while at Iowa State University and how she continued her service as the Guard in operation Iraqi Freedom, where she and her unit drove supply convoys into Iraq. Currently, Ernst serves on four Senate committees, as well as remaining a fierce advocate for expanding the military’s influence abroad.
When asked on how to become a leader, Ernst responded, “Get involved in your community and do things that inspire others.” She spoke on “assuming prudent risk” as a valuable tool into the path one takes and that it is essential in order to succeed.
“Inspiration is the key so that others may follow,” Ernst said.
Questions were brought from the audience and the majority of those questions had been submitted by students of either primary school, middle school, or high school level. One student posed a question on the Black Lives Matter movement, asking about the Second Amendment’s application to minority groups such as BLM and the Black Panthers, and how it disproportionately targets people of color. Ernst is an ardent gun right’s lobbyist, so her response here was one of interest.
“To put it in context, that is if the government is going out and widely trying to suppress its people,” Ernst said. “So, yes, I firmly believe in our Second Amendment rights. And that is for the protection of myself and my family.”
Included below is a minor infographic compiled by the project of Civic Impulse, LLC, and is displayed on GovTrack’s website. The dots below are positioned horizontally according to their progressive-conservative ideology score and vertically according to their leadership score. The data used to compile the graphic is an analysis of Senator Ernst’s sponsored and cosponsored bills.