I See Iowa Politics Up Close, and Carol Chooses Her Candidate!
Remember my friend, Carol, who lives in Iowa? I wrote about her in June.
We met online as memoir writers, presented together at Prairie Lights bookstore,
and have stayed in touch by phone for several years.
In June, Carol was still trying to decide who she will caucus for in February.
Well, there’s news to report.
Carol was my host last week on a wonderful tour of Des Moines, her home, as we
both prepared to do something neither of us had ever done before — attend the famous
Liberty and Justice Celebration — a dinner that
Iowa Democrats put on before the caucuses.
There was snow on the ground when I woke up the next morning, but no problem.
We walked the famous skywalk connecting downtown businesses, had afternoon refreshments with three of Carol’s friends,
and attended a great concert celebrating the Harlem Renaissance.
The next day, Nov. 1, we started out at Pete basecamp,
played with cut-outs (photo above), picked up swag, and stuck a red pin in Virginia in the big USA map,
demonstrating my place among more than 1,000 “Barnstormers” who came from all over the country.
Carol gamely played along. As an Iowan, she had snagged front-row seats in the stands for the
main event, a chance to hear almost all of the Democratic candidates for president.
We kept our date with another memoirist, Mary Gottschalk, at a delightful wine bar.
Carol then guided me through Des Moines “must-sees” — the Pappajohn Sculpture Park
and then on to the famous Raygun, “the greatest store in the universe.”
We waited in the rain with 2,300 others at Cowles Commons to see Pete, then marched up the hill to Wells Fargo Arena,
where we claimed those great seats and continued making noise and flashing lights.
We marveled at the huge crowd of Pete supporters, far and away the largest group.
If you want to watch the 11-minute speech on C-Span, here it is.
Actually, I recommend watching all the speeches. I loved applauding
Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Andrew Yang, and every speaker.
They were all good, and fans of one were fans of all — most of the time!
On the way out of the arena,
a young staff member asked Carol if she would caucus for Pete.
I waited to hear her answer, even though I was pretty sure I knew what she would say.
There it was — a straightforward, Midwestern, “yes.”
Carol has been won, as I have been, by a young man with “a funny name” who has hope in his heart,
fire in his belly, and a vision for a better America for all Americans.
We both felt this way about Barack Obama in 2007.
No matter what happens in the days ahead, we will look back on Oct. 30-Nov. 2, with joy.
Oh yes, one more wonderful adventure from this packed trip.
On the flight home, I sat beside a Kamala Harris supporter.
Stephanie Morales is a commonwealth attorney
from my own state of Virginia.
I was entranced by her stories of why she loves Kamala Harris, and why she too traveled
more than 1,000 miles to support her candidate.
We chatted constantly, amazed at how the time flew by at 6 a.m.
We agreed that both of our candidates were worthy of love and that we would support the other if they won.
I have returned home elated by love — love for Pete, yes, but behind that love a much larger one —
love of country, of democracy, of diversity, of family, and friendship.
Of such love will the future be woven, and I believe a young man from Indiana will be the weaver.
Thank you, Carol. Can’t wait to hear your reports straight from the Iowa caucuses!
Thank you, Stephanie, for helping me to appreciate what Kamala Harris’ candidacy
means to you and many others.
Thank you, Iowa, for showing the rest of us how democracy works.
Do you have a favorite candidate for 2020? Here’s a chance to share it below. Love to hear from you.
Shirley, I have to say, I read this one with amazement!
I blog regularly about topics people shy away from – topics I believe are important for us to think and talk about: sex, religion, power, money, illness.
I don’t touch it. It has become such a divisive and destructive force in our country and our world. I will cast my vote, yes, but my voice has remained still.
Maybe your newsletter only reaches people of similar persuasion…sort of like folks at the caucus who would mostly vote for any of the candidates.
My deep desire would be for us to have a true dialogue with those who are not of our persuasion…indeed “of such love will the future be woven.”
Thank you for posting this!
Thank you, Marlena, for touching the biggest nerve. The first time I wrote about politics directly, this year, my tagline was “I know I shouldn’t do this.”
Politics in America is a subject more divided than at any time since the Civil War. You are right.
But what will make things better? I have focused on friendship as a genuine way to engage in a democracy. True, most of my friends hold beliefs similar to my own, but I am open to conversation with Trump supporters who also want a better country and are willing to engage in civil dialogue about what makes a country great.
One of the things I first heard in Mayor Pete’s speeches was the phrase “our conservative friends” and “our Republican friends.” If you go on Twitter and Facebook and search for “Republicans for Pete Buttigieg,” you will find sizable groups there, self-organizing and making friends with Democrats. Pete’s Rules of the Road require us to listen to each other. It’s the only way out of this mess.
Thanks again for going to the heart of the matter. May I call you friend?
YES, dear Shirley! You may call me friend, and I do agree that friendship and dialogue are paths to a brighter future.
I just have so many friends who speak with hate and loathing about Trump – and I agree that his language and behaviors have been hateful and horrible, and I would never support him, but…
What so many of my friends refuse to look at are the many reasons our fellow citizens have turned to someone like Trump. It makes sense to me. We – Democrats and Republicans alike – have made a mess of things, and people are fearful and desperate.
Perfect stage for a despot.
Friend Marlena (an archaic Quaker form of address I still like),
You are so right, and you give me another chance to share what I have observed in watching Pete closely. He is progressive. AND he is pragmatic. He does not pretend to agree when he disagrees, but he looks for the CAUSAL factors behind people’s positions and shows how his ideas match up better with what people really want.
Shirley — You’re contagious! I got goosebumps of excitement just reading this enthusiastic post about your love for Pete (me too) and love of country, democracy, diversity, family, and friendship.
Thanks, Laurie, and I know you would have loved being in this kind of crowd too. Maybe some day you will. The contagion is love itself. Glad you are my friend!
Shirley, I have said all along that Mayor Pete is the only one who makes sense to me. His vision, confidence and demeanor are what we need to move on in a healthy, productive way. I’m cheering for Mayor Pete and you and Carol from afar. How wonderful you were able to reconnect with each other and Mary!
Dear Kathy, you were the wind beneath our wings. I was not aware that you were a Pete supporter until you made the comment in the Seniors for Pete group. We did feel doubly and triply blessed. Thanks for adding your voice here.
I love it. Wish I had the energy to go on that kind of trip these days. I’m with all the way with Mayor Pete, but I also like Kamala. But Pete’s the one.
And yes, politics in conversation with most people is difficult if not sometimes impossible. But it is important for all of us to try to converse about our national crisis and the next election with everyone.
Thanks for writing about “politics.” Your post is wonderful and not trashing anyone like a lot of them these days.
Thanks, Friend Joan. You are right about the energy it takes. I was glad for that extra hour of sleep yesterday! I have decided to do as much as I can as long as I can. None of us knows how long that will be. And there is work for all. I know you will find creative ways to be a weaver right where you are!
Blessings on your own conversations and friendships.
Glorious post, Shirley. I’ve enjoyed following you to Iowa. And thanks to your involvement in the Seniors for Pete fb group, I’ve come to more fully appreciate him than I would have otherwise. So I thank you for that too.
I’ve been singing the praises of differences these past many years; now I’m on a “find our similarities” path. My new book speaks to just this, subtitled “How to hold a civil conversation in an uncivil era.”
I am firmly of the opinion that if we don’t learn to look beyond our differences, distasteful as they may be, and talk to one another, to find our commonalities, those values that bind us as fellow Americans, we will be sorely handicapped when it comes to dealing with other issues before us, just over the horizon: resource shortages, particularly water, and other effects of climate change; structural racism; immigration; poverty and greed. ….
It’s called LEAPFROG:… An acronym to help readers remember what’s important.
Since you asked: I’ve been supporting Warren for a few years, biased toward her academic background. I believe in Medicare for all; to me it’s the Occam’s Razor idea: it’s just a simpler solution. I’d like very much to see insurance companies end their control of so very much. I followed Wang and Booker for a time too; I’ve never been a single issue voter. Pete is incredibly impressive; I’ve even contributed to his campaign.
Conciseness is not my forte. 🙂
Friend Janet! Wow. I’ll have to go check out LEAPFROG. Have you seen Pete’s Rules of the Road? He started with values and built out detailed policies around them. He believes we can all find similarities that bind us together.
Elizabeth Warren is lucky to have you as a supporter. I like her too.
I haven’t seen his Rules of the Road, only heard of them. I’ll go check them out now. The tiny print book should be out in about a week. Fingers crossed. It’s getting a final proof reading now.
I confess I am a “political junkie” so I heard/saw those speeches on C-Span that you heard in person in Iowa, and again I was impressed with Mayor Pete’s and he reminds me of Obama with his thoughtful agenda and his character. My only concern comes from a lawyer/historian friend who also likes Pete, but is fearful that the opposition will make a big deal and vilify him because he’s gay and making that the dominating issue to bring him down.
He certainly has captured my interest–such a decent/wise/caring/energetic young man that I think would make a great leader.
Friend Sue, you and I have a lot in common. I was a big fan of John F. Kennedy in 1960. When he was assassinated, I was a very impressionable 16 years old. After that, I took political science courses, studied leadership and have always voted. Guess that makes me a political junkie too. 🙂
Pete does get a lot of attacks (especially on social media) because he is gay, and if he continues to rise, he will get more. Anyone who looks at him and Chasten, however, and does not recognize a true love consecrated by both church and state, is not seeing him for who he is. We assume people can’t be elected because of their color or their sexuality. That will be true right up until the day that he or someone else disproves the theory.
Thanks Shirley, I am looking forward to Friday a.m.– Mayor Pete is going to be interviewed by Journalist Scott Simon, who is on NPR on the weekends–at least on our local WVPE station In Elkhart, and Scott is a favorite journalist of mine , so I’m really looking forward to that interview coming up both Friday and Saturday A.M.–not sure of exact time, but I have NPR on exclusively so won’t miss it! 🙂
I appreciate your optimistic slant regarding Pete which gives me the courage to vote my conscience/first impression that was really strong!
Friend Shirley, It was a delight to share Des Moines and part of Iowa’s unique political process with you. You have made me get involved sooner than I normally would have, but now I’m ‘all in.’ May we all find a candidate that speaks to our souls!
I agree, friend Carol. May the best person win the hearts and minds of the people. You are gracious host personified, and your city really impressed me. Beautiful! Thanks again for everything.
Well done, Shirley. Of course . . . I like Pete best too!
Thanks for letting me know where you stand, friend Richard. Good to see you here.
I am so jealous! I, too, have Iowa friends but I didn’t think about making the connection with the Barnstorming event and L&J dinner and just getting in the car and driving 6 hours west–until I’d filled my schedule with other things. What fun! Felling the love!
Thanks, friend Nancy, for wanting to be there, and I am glad to share the experience as much as possible. I am sure I would not have attempted all the navigation and expense and time it takes to do this on my own. We get by with a little help from our friends is a good theme song!
Shirley … I loved your enthusiasm while you were in Iowa … and loved the way it bubbled out in this blog. It was lovely to see you again. It’s been many years since I spent 2.5 hours over lunch!
Dear, dear Mary. Was it really 2.5 hours? It could have gone on much longer. That’s what happens when friends get together!
Yes, indeed, the man from Indiana reminds me a lot of the man from Illinois who won the election in 2008. While I don’t have a favorite candidate for 2020 yet, I do have a favorite trio of memoirist friends pictured above: Carol, Shirley, and Mary, all of whom I’ve met. Lucky me!
Ah, how sweet, Marian. You and Kathy and Joan would have enjoyed our 2.5-hour lunch. Aren’t we lucky to be friends?
This is a very refreshing take on the U.S. election campaign, Shirley! So good that you and Carol could connect and have a great time together, while doing some serious reflection as to which candidate to support. Here in Canada, we loved Obama, and anyone that even comes close to him makes us feel like there is some hope for our sister country in the south. The prayer of St. Francis of Assisi comes to mind. There has been so much negativity and despair about what is going on politically in your country as well as ours. “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…”
Yes, friend Elfrieda, exactly! I see an instrument of peace when I listen to Pete and watch him interact with others. Makes me want to be a better peacemaker myself.
I admire your attempt to bring change to the world through grassroots barnstorming. Very cool–and I know you’re not doing it to be cool but to truly bring change. And going all the way to Iowa. I’m guessing we might see some more writings out of this and on a bigger stage? …. Good luck and best of luck to Pete. Indiana has strong roots for me but I haven’t made up my mind yet. Goodness, tonight a neighbor was over and we were talking about the election–and of course it was next year’s election he was talking about.
I hope you and your neighbor are also voting tomorrow in the VA election. 🙂
In Iowa there’s a saying “It’s still early!” for 2020. They know how much can change before February.
Thanks for understanding the motive behind these words. We all write to change the world, don’t we?
Thanks for your interesting and useful report from your Iowa trip. I’m reading Pete Buttigieg’s autobiography. My blue team approach for 2020 election has two parallel tracks. First, I am continuing to select my top candidates independently of the polls. PB is still in the running; a majority of the Democratic candidates have been eliminated in my book. Second, I monitor the evidence and my instincts on who is best positioned to beat Trump, independently of my own preferences. Hopefully, those two approaches will converge! 🙂
I love how thoughtful you are about this process, Steve. Evidence and instincts are both important. For me, the instinct came first. I am still weighing the evidence and still open to others. I was one of the “early” ones for Obama. I heard the 2004 speech at the DNC and rose to my feet saying “he’s the one.” My vote in 2016 was all about evidence, not instinct. As soon as I heard PB speak, way back, I felt the Obama feeling. I am concerned about the police situation in SB. But I know he is too, and I appreciate his honesty. I am not concerned about his youth. It is a plus for me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, friend.
Thanks for diving in!!
I showed up at a rousing rally for Elizabeth Warren in Norfolk last month. I love that there are so many candidates out there with ideas for making a sorely-needed difference.
Thanks, friend Susan. I understand Elizabeth Warren has the best “ground game” in several early states. And I believe her when she says all her ideas come from her lifelong history of working for the middle class families of America. Glad you got to see her in person. That is still one of the finest features of our democracy. Although it is way too long and costs too much. We seem to move from one election to another without focusing on governing itself nearly enough!
Shirley, it sounds like a great experience (and lunch), and it’s wonderful that you got to see Carol and Mary, too!
I first heard “Mayor Pete” on the NPR show “Wait, Wait Don’t Me.” It was before he was a candidate, and I was impressed by him. I haven’t decided on a candidate yet. I like Warren, too, but I will support whoever is chosen.
Someone has told me that many voters in the Red part of Pennsylvania will not vote for Warren or Buttigieg because they think she’s too liberal and because he’s gay. I hope that’s not true. But today I read a story about how commissioners in Florida refused to consider a request by librarians to get a digital subscription to the NY Times because they said it’s “fake news.” I wonder then if people who believe that will even hear messages by any of the Democrats.
Hi, friend Merril, glad for these observations about your context. As you know, Virginia has gone “all blue” after Tuesday, and the likely win in Kentucky for Democrats is a repudiation to the “coat-tails” power of the president. Everything he says about his base being loyal to him is true, but his base is not the majority. I am quite familiar with central Pennsylvania’s conservatism, having grown up there. But I also know that the man in the White House is not a true conservative! He is demolishing every day the values Republicans have stood for in the past. So independents and some Republicans will vote for a Democrat who respects them and lives their values. Could that be a gay man? Or a liberal woman? It’s not impossible if they get the chance to listen to the candidate and study their plans. Women in the suburbs have been making a huge difference in all these 2018 and 2019 elections.
Hopefully, Friend Shirley. I’m just passing along what someone has told me. And of course, I know dt is not a true conservative, but for some reason many conservatives are still following him. Of course I hope people open their minds.
Thank you for sharing this blog post, Shirley. We’ve been privileged to hear Pete speak two times and both times I came away filled with hope for our beloved country. When I see someone as young as he is, so passionate and willing to work so hard, I am humbled and I recognize we are in good hands with this next generation. And he is a thoughtful, poetic, and excellent writer as evidenced by his book. Is there anything he doesn’t do well?!
Yes, dear Betty, our hearts and minds vibrate on the same strings. And have for a long time. You have a wonderful opportunity to observe Pete in his home territory. Wouldn’t it be amazing if Pete’s answer to Mar a Largo was his house in South Bend?? And no, I don’t know of anything he doesn’t do well!
AMEN and AMEN, Shirley: “I believe a young man from Indiana will be the weaver” – from your lips to Godde’s ears!
I have already voted. Absentee for Super Tuesday. Still impressed. And still willing to vote Blue no matter who.
wooHOO – me TOO – vote BLUE!