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I said yes to a random organizer text, and ended up doing the cupid shuffle with Kamala Harris supporters

Posted: October 20, 2019 | By: Madison Kelly Tagged: Blog

DES MOINES, Iowa — It was the Thursday before Drake University’s fall break– an odd four day weekend where many students abandon Des Moines for a quick visit home. This year, I decided to stay in town. I was hoping to spend my weekend with friends, curled up in a blanket and catching up on homework. But after asking people about their plans, I realized I’d be spending the weekend alone.

That’s when I got this message: “Hey Madison! This is Gabriela with Planned Parenthood. U wanna join me to ask Kamala Harris a question? Saturday at 3:15 PM.”

During caucus season, especially in Iowa, messages like this aren’t uncommon. And I’m sure, like many other Iowans, I normally wouldn’t have replied to a random organizer text. But I had absolutely no plans. And part of me was curious, what would happen if I agreed?

So, channeling my inner Jim Carrey (Yes Man, anyone?), I said yes.

Two days later, I was searching for Gabriela at a block party on Forest Avenue. It was a chilly afternoon in the mid-50s, but the sun was out and people were dancing. Immediately, this felt different than other candidate events I’d been to. The energy here was contagious.

After spotting a woman holding a bright pink Planned Parenthood shirt, I found Gabriela, who also handed me a shirt and a list of questions she was hoping to ask Senator Harris. Around us, everyone– from toddlers to senior citizens– was enjoying pulled pork sandwiches and laughing with their neighbors. I even spotted Dr. Vote, a frequent campaign event goer, who’s known for his patriotic sweater and buttons and dedication to registering Iowans to vote.

When the DJ started playing “Cupid Shuffle,” Gabriela and I were standing at the edge of where people were dancing. So I asked her, this person I had just met 15 minutes earlier, to join in with me. And while I was “walking it by myself,” I had to laugh. Two days ago I was moping because I didn’t have any plans, and now, I was doing the cupid shuffle with Kamala Harris supporters.

When Senator Harris took the stage, everyone gathered around politely. It wasn’t quite the mosh pit I expected. During her speech, Senator Harris addressed the fact that many Americans don’t believe in her electability as a black woman. She told the crowd this wasn’t her first time hearing this. In fact, she heard it every time she ran. But every time she ran, she reminded them, she won.

Senator Harris then answered audience questions from the stage– which mainly focused on public health and the reformation of the justice system– and continued doing so as she took photos with supporters on the ground. A small boy next to me was trying to get her attention for a photo. “I will not give up!” he hollered. Hearing this, the senator turned around laughing and posed for a photo with him and his family. There was something incredible about seeing a black child interact with a black presidential candidate. The little boy was gleeful. “I’m going to tell all my friends at school!” he said.

Watching the excitement of this little boy, I was reminded that unlike most Americans, Iowans have the opportunity to meet politicians as people. But not everyone is taking advantage of our unique position. It seems many people, including a majority of my friends, are staying home, watching the debates, and waiting for candidates to drop out.

So if this sounds like you, and you’re in Iowa, I’d encourage you to experience the craziness of the Iowa caucus season. You’ll find that it’s surprisingly easy to meet candidates. All you need to do is find a nearby event. Or maybe, say yes the next time an organizer texts you, calls you, or knocks on your door. You never know what might happen.