Same Speech, Different Venue

Posted: January 28, 2020 | By: Madeleine Leigh Tagged: Blog

On Jan. 18, I attended the Urban Dreams Block Party, where Senator Elizabeth Warren gave her stump speech and answered questions. The event was co-hosted by Creative Visions, NAACP Des Moines branch, and Urban Dreams, focusing on things like housing rights, health care, and criminal justice reform.

The room was packed from wall to wall; I couldn’t shift more than a few inches in either direction and people spent Sen. Warren’s whole speech trying to push to the front just to catch a glimpse of her. Big cameras lined the back of the room, and photographers were scattered throughout the crowd. Clearly, despite the small venue, the event was well advertised. Sen. Warren’s Iowa team is great at pushing people to go to her events. Twice, in the week leading up to the event, someone from their campaign called me to check that I was still attending and knew where to go.

Sen. Warren gave her generic stump speech focusing on corruption in the U.S. government, and how she will use the wealth tax to fund programs like Medicare for all and free college tuition, at every event she attends, no matter what question is asked. Part of that is because her plans all fit together; one feeds into the other, all revolving around Sen. Warren’s belief that the U.S. government needs big structural change now.

But another part of it feels very scripted, as someone who has attended roughly five events Sen. Warren has spoken at. Perhaps that is part of her branding strategy, making sure her message is consistent; even if that is the case, to me, it gets repetitive listening to the same thing over and over.

While I was there, I met a woman named Mary. She and one of her colleagues bussed into Des Moines from the Chicagoland area with some high school students to participate in the relentless lead-up to the Iowa caucuses. Their group, Mikva Challenge, had spent that day canvassing for different candidates in the race, including Sen. Warren.

Mikva Challenge’s mission is to get youth participating in the democratic process, much like the Iowa Caucus Project does for students at Drake University. Their coming to Des Moines is just another example of the awesome opportunity we all have to witness the nitty-gritty parts of politics come to life right before our eyes. We get to be in the thick of it! And as much as it is our responsibility to take part in this process as responsible global citizens, that opportunity is also a privilege.