A Bowling Alley isn’t Always Just a Bowling Alley
ADEL, Iowa—Growing up in Minnesota, a bowling alley was always just that, a bowling alley. It was nothing more and nothing less. It was a place to hang out with friends and hopefully bowl a few strikes. On Wednesday, Jan. 8, the Family Fun Center in the local bowling alley in Adel, Iowa, was transformed to be the site of a Biden for Iowa campaign event. While Former Vice President Joe Biden was not in attendance at this rally, Tennessee State Senator Raumesh Akbari and Pennsylvania State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta were present to tell the citizens of Adel why they support Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination. Former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack headlined the event.
The reasons why these officials supported Biden were normal talking points that come up often during this campaign. This included his policy on health care, voting record, and foreign policy experience. Specifically, former Secretary Kerry gave his opinions surrounding the death of Iranian General Qasam Soleimani. He believed that if Biden had been navigating the issue, the Middle East would be more stable, and the United States would be safer. The most interesting aspect of the event for me though was not the talking points but the event location.
There’s nothing spectacular about the Family Fun Center. The building has roughly fifteen lanes and a small bar. Growing up in Minnesota, I am not accustomed to the retail-style politics that the Iowa caucuses offer. On the contrary, I’m used to large, made-for-tv rallies that can accommodate hundreds if not thousands of people. The events typically are consolidated around the Twin Cities, the main urban center in Minnesota. When I first pulled up to the location my first thought was “Is this the right place?” There were few cars in the parking lot, and the building was much smaller than I had imagined. This allowed for a more intimate experience with the speakers that day.
Walking into the venue, my questions about whether I was at the right spot were answered when I saw a handful of Biden campaign volunteers and Biden for Iowa signs hanging on the walls. There were tables and chairs set up beside the bar. About 50 people showed up for the event. The seat that I found, was about 10 feet away from the main podium for the speakers. No one was farther than 30 feet away from the speakers. There was a closeness that you could feel. In a town with a population under 5,000 people, this probably isn’t that uncommon. The Biden camp was trying to integrate their campaign into the community atmosphere. The location was as much a part of the event as the talking point, speakers, and volunteers. At a different location, the event would have been much different-probably for the worse.
It’s a different style of politics. A style that few regions in the country get to experience. I count myself lucky that I get a chance to experience the Iowa caucus and now understand why native Iowans hold the caucus so dearly.