The majority of the democratic presidential candidates flocked to Iowa last week in the midst of the Polk County Steak Fry, a people’s forum in Des Moines, as well as a presidential forum on the rights of LGBTQ voters in Cedar Rapids.
An unforeseen crowd of 12,000 people showed up to this year’s Steak Fry. Over 10,000 burgers and 1,000 vegan burgers were served to attendees as 17 candidates spoke about their platforms. Although 18 candidates were supposed to appear at the event, Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York, recently dropped his bid for the Democratic nomination.
Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke retouched on his mandatory gun buyback plan while Senator Cory Booker discussed his family’s history in Iowa and encouraged voters to combat hatred and rise together.
Senator Elizabeth Warren declared, “I know what’s broken, I know how to fix it, and we’re building a grassroots movement to make it happen.” She also called for the impeachment of the president.
In recent polls carried out by the Des Moines Register, CNN and Mediacom, Warren came out in front with support from 22% of those likely to appear at the caucuses. Former Vice President Joe Biden placed behind Warren with 20%, and the only other candidate with a number in the double digits was Senator Bernie Sanders with 11%.
“It is good for Warren to overtake Biden, as expected, because she is much more pro-people than Biden,” said Connor Potts, a junior and president of the Young Democratic Socialists at Guilford. “However, Bernie Sanders has a much bigger following and support from most demographics, such as younger people, people of color, lower class people and women.”
Sanders did not make an appearance at the LGBTQ forum and was scrutinized by host Angelica Ross, who became the first trans person to host a presidential forum. At the event, Senator Kamala Harris faced criticism for denying inmates gender reassignment surgery while she was the attorney general of California, and Biden was confronted about his support for the Defense of Marriage Act in past years.
“If Biden maintains his run no one is going to vote for him. They are going to vote against Trump, and the same thing that happened with Hillary Clinton in 2016 will happen again,” stated Early College student Hubert Liu. “I understand that the democratic establishment is trying to appeal to centrists, but at this point with the Republican Party pulling the entire political discourse to the right, it is just going to compromise the Democrat platform.”
Outside of Iowa, the three front runners appeared at various United Auto Workers strikes across the United States, attempting to display their support for workers and sway voters. Both Warren and Sanders joined General Motors workers in Detroit, while Biden appeared at a plant in Kansas City.
Warren carried a white and blue strike sign and criticized General Motors for making billions of dollars of profits and still closing plants. Biden wore a red shirt in solidarity and discussed the lack of benefits for all workers, and contrasted that with the high salaries of company executives. Both emphasized the importance of unions in building America’s middle class.
As the candidates continue to appear at discrepant events and rallies, students at Guilford College have not only expressed their perspectives on the ongoing democratic race, but have highlighted the value of student involvement in politics.
“Every decision either affects us currently or will in the future,” said Potts. “To not be involved comes from a place of privilege because you have the ability to afford healthcare or college, for example. Consider working together to help our fellow people out to fight oppression. Stop being complicit in the abuse of the lower class, abuse of people of color, women, disabled people—disenfranchised folks in general.”
Editor’s note: This story originally was published in Volume 106, Issue 1 of The Guilfordian on Oct. 4, 2019.