By: Zachary Bynum
Democracy? Throughout this weekend I got to see a very vivid representation of what this term means in an American context. The Iowa Caucuses was one of the most unique experiences I have ever had. The culture around the caucuses is what makes me see this. When you think of democracy you probably think of something as simple as voting or campaigning. But in Des Moines, it looks a lot like every neighborhood street lined with people tirelessly canvassing, whole families attending rallies, and even celebrities to give a speech endorsing a certain candidate. These are all very common occurrences at an event as vibrant as the Iowa caucuses, but the most impressive aspect is the mindfulness of democracy it creates amongst Americans.
After arriving in Des Moines, we wanted to be adventurous and try out some Iowan delicacies, so we decided to go to Zombie Burger. While inside you could see all the invigorated supporters, many of them Bernie Sanders supporters, all sitting around strategizing, planning, and having what looked like very interesting conversation. You could not even distinguish simple supporters from organizers; you could feel the very present vibe that said “we’re all in this together.” It was such a spectacle. It was very surreal for me given that in my own hometown of Richmond Hill, Georgia these kinds of public display of political support are a rarity. That experience really set the tone for my time I spent in Iowa.
Another surprisingly exciting event was a Marco Rubio rally where I realized that although his policy is quite problematic for me, he himself is a very charismatic leader. His persona is one that resonates with you even if you do not agree with most of the things he says. I remember at one point discussing the rally with my colleagues and all we could do was make comments about Rubio’s eloquence and ability to please a crowd. Honestly, despite my own political beliefs, I can definitely say that Marco Rubio would be a great Republican runner in the general election (a statement that I never thought I would care enough to make). Seeing all his supporters made me realize that although I felt a bit out of place, there is beauty to American democracy and the various pathways it creates. One of these pathways, led us right into Capitol Square where multiple news station were in the middle of production. There we met people like Symone Sanders (Bernie Sanders’ National Press Secretary) and Katrina Pearson (Donald Trump’s Lead Spokesperson). I had to ask myself what makes this all possible? What allows for these amazing experiences to take place? The answer is and will always be democracy. Without it, something like the Iowa Caucus would not exist. Without it, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet and speak with the Attorney General of Iowa. Without it, I would have not had the opportunity to travel door to door making sure people showed up to their local caucus. Without it, I would not have gotten to embark on this amazing journey with awesome colleagues and talented mentors.
So as we continue to Wake the Vote, and become even more involved in democracy, I look forward to what is coming. New Hampshire be prepared because the vote awakens.