Iowa Crisis Part 4: Just Another Manic Monday

A night that will go down in infamy…..P.S. this is a long one. 

Two days ago the primary election was held in the state of New Hampshire. Polls closed at 7:00 pm. Reporting started at 8:00 pm. We had a winner by midnight. This is how a primary, and even a caucus, is supposed to go, right?

Monday, February 3rd, in Iowa was much different. 

That morning we connected with a friend-of-a-friend and wound up at a volunteer’s house somewhere in Des Moines to observe canvassing for the Warren campaign. This was another opportunity for us to see what on-the-ground organizing looked like, and it was interesting to see what the strategy was considering The Big Day was finally upon us. These people had been working hard for almost a year to prepare for the first voting event of the election year and to prove their candidate’s commitment. 

I was struck by the passion and calmness of the volunteer we spoke with and how the day was mostly going to be about convincing people that Elizabeth Warren should be their viable second option after the first alignment. They were also committed to providing resources to these caucus-goers about where their precinct was, when to get there, what parking would be like, and even setting up shuttle services for those that wouldn’t be able to make it on their own. 

As for the practice of canvassing, something I had never done before, they tried really hard to make it seem fun. They empowered their volunteers with every piece of information they would need and how to respond to policy questions and negative comments. The most interesting piece of advice for canvassers from the Warren organizer: “beware GOP hostile houses.” Most houses that were registered Republican, or had previously expressed their conservative values were marked on the clipboards, but they advised volunteers to not engage. Allison and I were shook as we imagined GOP supporters throwing snowballs at us from their porches. After about an hour we returned our materials and went to lunch.

I’ve never seen someone so jazzed about door knocking in 20 degree weather! That’s the Warren Effect.

Following a lovely meal at a Guy Fieri approved restaurant, we had enough time to return to the hotel for a little nap before the caucusing began. Besides the shit-show that ended up being the Iowa Caucus, there was another monumental event happening that night: the very first bilingual satellite sites were popping up around the state to reach Latinx voters.  

We found out about these additional precincts from someone staying in our hotel, who just so happened to be an advisor on Economic Policy for Pete For America. Shout out to Rafael for the hot tip and the opportunity to witness something historic for American democracy. 

So a few of us drove Jolene to the YMCA Center in South Des Moines, where upon entering the building, we immediately spotted a heavy Bernie presence (aka “Tío Bernie” shirts and “Unidos Con Bernie” buttons.)

Every day we were in Iowa, we just tried to make Dolly proud.

As observers, we were squished to the back of the gym with Washington Post, CNN, and local outlets for Univision. In our VIP press corner, we made friends with members of America’s Voice, a news outlet built around immigration reform and information. 

After witnessing an overwhelming support for Bernie, the event was over in about 45 minutes. With only a few people for other candidates, no other groups were viable and it didn’t seem like they were going to be. While these bilingual sites were a new addition to the tradition of the Iowa Caucuses, the Sanders campaign seemed to be aware of the impact it would have and clearly put a lot of effort into making sure they had presence and support. 

Holding it down for UNC at the YMCA in South Des Moines.

With questions about how the rest of the state was caucusing, we left the YMCA and headed to Pete Buttigieg’s caucus party to round out our evening. Upon entering the gym at Drake University, you could physically feel the energy of the room. The “under-qualified” Mayor from South Bend was proving to have a more successful campaign in Iowa than anyone had predicted. 

And then….came the announcements of “technical difficulty” from the Iowa Democratic Party. I’m not going to explain what happened 1) because I don’t entirely understand myself and 2) because you can google it. 

All I know is that at some point that night, every candidate made a speech about victory. I know that the support for Warren, Sanders, and Buttigieg was evident from the results that were given. I know that New Hampshire proved similar things, but also produced new questions about the future of these candidates. I know these two primary states do not represent the entire US. I know this primary election is far from over. And I know who I believe in. 

At the end of the night, I heard Pete make another amazing speech about unity and hope, and I know Elizabeth and Bernie did the same. As we left the party cheering for Pete and Chasten (and Buddy and Truman), Allison and I knew we would be leaving Iowa with a sense of hope we didn’t have when we left North Carolina. We were leaving with the conviction that the Democratic Party, no matter what, would be able to defeat Donald Trump in 2020. 

And maybe Donald Trump and his deal with the Devil was working a little harder than I was because as we walked back to Jolene, I slipped on black ice and fucked up my knee just in time for our early morning flight back home…

If that doesn’t describe our time in Iowa perfectly, I don’t know what does.  

As for our trip back home, I’m sorry to report that our flight from Des Moines to Raleigh was seamless. No crazy story about missed connections and rental cars for this one. But if you’ve made it through all four parts of this saga, you’ll know that this trip as a whole was far from boring. 

This trip taught me a lot about people and how we make decisions, both with our guts and with our brains, and it brought me close to a lot of people in many different ways. But while this trip to Iowa stoked the political fire burning in my belly, it did not convince me to ever start a career in politics. 

Did I fool you? Did you think that suddenly my blog would be filled with politics and commentary on the 2020 election? HA! You know I’m smarter than that.

So, thank you for following along with these wild posts and for showing an interest in my journey to the Midwest. After this, I will take it back to our regularly scheduled Miranda-centric programming. 

To keep you occupied until then, please enjoy one of my favorite Spotify playlists. Stay happy, stay calm, and stay true to yourself. But most importantly…DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!!

…okay so maybe a little political 🙂


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