by ELIZABETH KIRSNER
During the presidential election season, Iowa transforms into a center for political engagement. Presidential candidates swarm public events such as the popular Iowa State Fair, trying to get their views across to future voters without being photographed eating a corndog.
Travelling to Iowa to campaign has its benefits. Candidates can access a broad spectrum of voters, ranging from rural Iowans to Des Moines city-dwellers. Unlike other states that have primaries, caucuses or meetings to discuss and vote on candidates, Iowa draws people from all walks of life to have face to face interaction with a potential future president. Winning the Iowa caucus provides candidates with momentum in the next step of the election.
Due to the role that Iowa plays in the political process and the close contact with candidates, students at Drake are eager to get involved to help their favorite future president. Amber Ruiz, a sophomore studying writing and politics has started work on the Elizabeth Warren campaign this summer. I got the chance to chat with Amber about how the campaign has shaped her views on the upcoming election.
Elizabeth: Hi Amber. What prompted you to get involved with campaigns in general?
Amber Ruiz: The campaigns give me hope. I’m 19 and after just one year in the adult world, I can tell how much this country needs change.
Elizabeth: What about the country needs to be changed?
AR: Hearing the stories of people not having access to health insurance or realizing that certain types of people are set at economic and institutionalized disadvantages because of their skin color has made me want to push for more change and equality.
Elizabeth: So, what made you choose Elizabeth Warren’s campaign specifically?
AR: When I was a senior in high school, the “Me Too” movement was happening, which sprouted from Harvey Weinstein’s assaults in Hollywood. I started a women and gender issues club, which became one of the largest organizations on campus. It was a lot of fun and we tried to get speakers to come and talk with our members. I reached out to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s team in 2017. I have always looked up to her because she’s a smart badass. The team reached right back out, and even though she couldn’t come to my school, they said they loved the club and told me Elizabeth was proud of what I was doing for my community. From then on, I have been loyal to Senator Warren.
Another student Jackie Sayers, a junior who is studying political science, chose the Kamala Harris campaign.
Elizabeth: What made you take special interest in Kamala?
Jackie Sayers: I chose Kamala because she was the first candidate to give me hope after the devastation of 2016. To me, the hardest part about 2016 was hearing Trump explicitly brag about sexually assaulting women, and the country still electing him. After watching Kamala take on Kavanaugh in the hearings, I knew I had found my candidate. Her commitment to valuing and protecting women’s rights, and the way she directly challenged and intensely questioned Kavanaugh showed me she is not afraid to fight.
Elizabeth: That’s amazing! What are some of the best parts of being on the campaign?
JS: The best part about being on the campaign is all the amazing people I’ve met. I’ve only been working on her campaign for about 2.5 months, but I’ve met countless friends from all over the country. The daily grind of phone calling and canvassing can sometimes get hard, but every day I am inspired and motivated by the people who are working so hard to elect someone we believe in.
Elizabeth: This is making me want to join a campaign myself! What would you say to someone who is considering joining a presidential campaign?
JS: I would tell them that getting involved and being active in this election is truly so important. To echo Senator Harris, our country is at an inflection point after the election of Trump. The American Dream and American Democracy are under attack and the only way to prevent another disastrous four years of his presidency is for every single person to choose a candidate they believe in and work their hardest. Whether it’s knocking on doors, making phone calls, or hosting a debate watch party, there are so many ways for people to get involved.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons