On Saturday, January 30, the first night of our adventure in Iowa, Wake The Vote attended a Marco Rubio rally in Des Moines at the Ramada Tropics Resort and Conference Center. When we entered the room, Senator Rubio was in the left corner of the room being interviewed by press. Before Senator Rubio’s speech, reporters swarmed the room. A woman from Elite Daily was fascinated by our Wake The Vote program and inquired information to write an article about the cohort. Some Wake The Vote students were interviewed by international reporters. During Rubio’s speech that night, he appealed to the crowd by telling us that “I have lived paycheck to paycheck”, implying that he understands the hardships that middle class families face today. One of the great things that Rubio mentioned in his speech in my opinion was the importance of the youth vote in the 2016 election. He emphasized that “This election is about all of us, but it’s about young Americans more than anyone”. His charismatic personality and witty sense of humor really riled up the crowd!
On Sunday, January 31, I had the opportunity to attend a Bernie Sanders rally at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa. The excitement and energy in the small gymnasium was incredible! Josh Hutcherson and Foster The People made an appearance at the rally and riled up the crowd with reasons why they support Bernie Sanders. Some of the topics that Senator Sanders covered were raising the minimum wage to $15, combating institutional racism, college affordability, and increasing funding for Planned Parenthood. He went into detail about how he would lower interest rates to combat college debt.
Bernie’s personality is really what sets him apart from all of the other candidates in the Democratic Party. The fact that such a diverse group of Iowans came out to support him on Sunday night shines a light on his likability and capability as well. Senator Sanders used the phrase, “Enough is enough” throughout his speech, especially when discussing stopping Wall Street from taking advantage of the majority of U.S. citizens. One thing that resonated with me throughout this experience was Sanders’ passion when he talked about women’s rights and racial justice. These are important issues that many GOP candidates seem to overlook.
Contrasting Rubio and Sanders’ rallies, I noticed that Senator Rubio discussed his Christian values and beliefs and how they would influence our nation, while Senator Sanders emphasized freedom of religion on a broad scale. Sanders did not bring up his Jewish faith, but rather discussed LGBT rights and policies that affirm the values of people of color. Rubio talked about how as president he would immediately dismantle the Iran Deal and overturn policies that President Obama has implemented by executive overreach. A few things both Senators had in common is their determination to bring back the middle class and to improve the rural economy. However, they differ immensely on issues such as building up the military (Rubio) and foreign policy. Senator Sanders did not discuss foreign policy during his speech that night, while Rubio talked about the importance of strengthening our military in order to protect from radical terrorism and to assert our dominance in the world.
Overall, Iowa was an incredible experience and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to attend both Rubio’s and Sanders’ rallies. I believe it is crucial for young voters to learn about the issues and where each candidate on both the Democratic and Republican parties stand. Rubio and Sanders each have a unique set of ideas and policies to implement, but share their vision to ensure the American people are safe and economically stable. Thank you for an amazing experience at the Iowa Caucuses! We are ready to Wake The Vote in New Hampshire next week!