Well, I’m probably the last one writing this blog of the Des Moines trip. And if you haven’t heard, we are currently stuck in the Des Moines airport. I suppose everyone and their mother leave Des Moines the day after their caucuses. In an airport restaurant, I overheard (as she was signing a check) a reporter tell a waitress, “see you in four years.” So, as I’m on my 7th hour watching reporters leave for New Hampshire, sad O’Malley supporters go back home, and Bernie supporters carry their enthusiasm onto the next state, I’m thinking about how yesterday by far one of the best days of my life.
Not many 22 year olds are getting to do what they dreamed of doing when they were 8 years old, when I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning waiting to see if Al Gore or George W. Bush won. And last night, if you haven’t heard, Clinton beat Sanders by .3% and Cruz came out on top (but Rubio had a much higher turnout than expected). And I watched that happen in real life.
I worked for Sanders yesterday and I’m not at all surprised with his success yesterday. When I walked into his headquarters, it was just as a pictured: a massive room with some random goodwill couches, plastic tables, and various chairs. There was a printer in the corner, chords connecting to iPhones and laptops everywhere, and tons of enthusiastic “campaign captains” and volunteers. Most of them, if not all of them, had at least one nose ring. In classic “Hannah Dobie” fashion, I walked away with three new friends from the day and is the reason why I’m not surprised with Sanders almost victory.
First, a previous Houston Texans quarterback was canvassing for Bernie Sanders. A former University of Southern California student, who was twenty-two years old and from Panama, had flown to Des Moines to volunteer his time for two weeks. One of the “campaign captains,” who was from London, decided to volunteer for the Sanders campaign instead of “go to Tanzania and play with kids like all my friends do.” He commented, “After studying American politics in school, I’m trying to start a political revolution.”
Last night, Sanders got 85% of the 30 year old and younger vote. That tells me and should tell you, that young democrats are enthusiastic for a political revolution. And with the new friends that I walked away with, that’s exactly what they kept screaming: “political revolution.” Whether you agree with a “political revolution” or not, you should agree with the enthusiasm that young people poured into these campaigns. Our generation gets a lot of criticism that we are not engaged in politics or current affairs. Yesterday proved that our generation is highly engaged and enthusiastic about our future, even when people are telling us not to be.
That being said, I hope everyone gets to see an Iowa Caucus underway at some point. At first I thought it was the most democratic process I had ever seen, until I realized that the O’ Malley supporters had to, in simple terms, pick Sanders or Clinton. Essentially, the percentage of O’Malley supporters gets erased, and thus their original vote changes; I still haven’t decided if this is truly democratic or not. The percentage you see on the news is a lot higher than it actually is. But in the Iowa caucus, a candidate has to have at least 15% of the vote to count for a delegate, so the O’ Malley supporters are convinced by either Clinton or Sanders captains to come to their side. In the caucus that I observed, most of the O’Malley supporters went to the Sanders campaign. This tends to be what happened across the state and is another reason I’m not surprised with Sanders success in Iowa.
My final observation: the Sanders campaign headquarters was next to the grocery store. When I asked some workers if they had time to go caucus, they said they had to work and could not. The times in which voters go to caucus (6:30 pm) should be a state holiday; at least bosses should let their employees go and vote. It is oppressive that those who have to work during the caucus (and other election days) cannot participate and voice their opinions. That is 100% not democratic.
Onwards to New Hampshire, to more observations of democratic and non-democratic processes, and to more enthusiastic supporters of campaigns across the board.
P.S. Here are some URLs thanks to Wake the Vote: