How to motivate Iowans and what yrmama really wants

After the Liberty and Justice Celebration we stayed on in DesMoines for a couple of days to attend the Pete Summit. It was “leadership training” for core campaign volunteers from across the state and if yrmama is a “core campaign volunteer” … they should look for people who are less cynical than yrmama.

The Battle of #LJ19 Hill
Plus, yrmama would like to be awarded all the style points for her patriotic outfit. The JCrew clearance jeans are spangled with little blue stars, while the TJMaxx clearance red cotton sweater and moisture-wicking gray hooded sweatshirt underneath take the adorable ensemble all the way from cute and festive to dressed-for-the-weather. Photography credit – JM And thanks to Amy for all the green signs to pose with.

I like Pete, but despite my signed Commit to Caucus (a “CTC” to the real insiders) and the t shirts and yard signs I’m still my old deeply skeptical non-joiner self. If it weren’t for this doggone blog (thanks Sharon) I would probably not be doing any of this, but there I was, in a junior high school gym with 175 fellow core campaign volunteers from all over Iowa and a lot of extremely bouncy, youthful campaign staffers. The first morning we were treated to a bonus visit from Pete himself and we even sat next to the nice sixteen year old girl who has become Chasten’s new best friend. I’m not even kidding – when she was sick he called her. JM said, with a healthy mix of jealousy and awe, “She’s going to get invited to the inauguration.”

Despite now being well-trained in interpersonal persuasion tactics meant to be used on the Pete-curious (they actually call you that), what I really want out of this is a little different. I really want people to caucus and vote for whoever they want. I want them to be able to talk about their “values” (wth. Talk about a mushy concept.) and political ideas, which in itself is kind of revolutionary. I want them to feel like their ideas matter and that their vote will ultimately make a difference.*

This training skipped over the fact that Iowans, for the most part, consider talking about politics bad manners. I was explicitly taught to not talk about politics, religion or money except in special circumstances. I think there should have been a session on how to create “safe spaces” where Iowans would feel like talking about their “values.”

I know that the way to motivate Iowans is not to talk them into things, or jump up and down and yell zestfully, or set expectations for them, but to tell them that their work and ideas are valuable and appreciated. I was at a volunteer appreciation dinner the other night for a different organization whose army of volunteers brought in $100,000 of revenue in September, one price tag on a used pair of socks at a time. That’s what they tell us all the time there – your work and ideas are valuable and appreciated.

In the comments – were you taught that there was a set of topics unsuited to common civil discourse? Have you ever been persuaded to take a position?

*Hey! Let’s do a thing where the presidential candidate with the most votes wins!

yrmama attends #LJ19

Democratic presidential candidate, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party Liberty & Justice Celebration on November 1, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Decoder Ring : The LJ is what the cool kids call the Liberty and Justice Celebration, formerly the Iowa Democrat party’s Jefferson Jackson Dinner. It is the state’s last big blow-out for the candidates before the caucus on February 3rd, and it is famously where Barack made a head-turning speech in 2007.

We arrived in downtown Des Moines in the late afternoon on Friday, where each campaign had been partying hard in the 35F rain ALL DAY, yelling and dancing, before entering the Wells Fargo Arena at 4:30 pm. Kamala was led in by the Isiserettes – the same local drum corps and drill team Barack had at the then-JJ in 2007 and in his inauguration parade. You should also be sad you missed an early chance to see Team Pete doing the High Hopes dance. Soon you will all be doing it.

Inside, on the main floor, were round tables for dining Democratic high rollers in their dress-up clothes. The arena seats were divided up into blocks for the various campaigns. For perspective, most of Joe’s seats were empty, Bernie had no allotted seats because they opted for an off-site watch party and Andrew had one section. We were in the Pete region, a very full twelve sections, about 1/4 of the total seats. We were exceptionally loud, too, but well-rivaled in decibels by Elizabeth’s folks in their sea-foam green gear.

This was yrmama’s first chance to see Andrew speak in person, and he was my second favorite-est. I loved his supporter’s glow-stick Y’s and he’s just smart, funny, and iconoclastic. I hope he takes some kind of influential job in government – in the cabinet maybe. He talked about how Iowans have a truly outsized influence in the presidential election that we should wield and wield wisely. He said he’s done the math and one Iowan is worth a thousand Californians, influence-wise, which means that the fourteen thousand Iowans in the arena that night are the equivalent of fourteen million California voters.

Tom Steyer was the only other one I’d not seen in person. He said good things and has a role to play but he probably is not going to be the nominee.

What do you mean you don’t feel like caucussing? I’ll make sure you have a ride there and back AND buy you a pizza. Seriously,