In Iowa, Candidates Hope to Win Over Caucus Voters


December 20th, 2019

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang poses for a picture with a supporter in Council Bluffs in November. (Photo: Emily White)

OMAHA, Neb. (Dec. 20, 2019) — While the field of Democrats vying for their party’s nomination for President isn’t as large as it was a few months ago, there are plenty of candidates still in contention for the chance to beat Donald Trump in 2020.

Debates, speeches and ads have introduced America to these remaining candidates, but their first real test will come when Iowa voters go to caucus in February.

One of them looking to capture Iowans’ attention is Andrew Yang, who canvassed with supporters and greeted a crowd in Council Bluffs in November.

There are a few policy positions that set Yang apart from the rest, one being his plan for Universal Basic Income: a thousand dollars given to every American adult each month, something his campaign calls “the Freedom Dividend.”

“This is an older American idea that Thomas Paine, Martin Luther King, and Richard Nixon all championed in different forms,” he says. “And if you think that $1,000 a month is the most impactful thing that your government can do for you, then let’s make that case to the rest of the country on February 3.”

Yang’s background is in tech, and he’s focused on ways Americans can thrive as the use of artificial intelligence continues to grow – including how small family farms can survive in a time when large corporations and innovative technology dominate the agricultural landscape.

“The best path forward would be to create economic incentives to balance it out and make it so that our food supply, if it’s done in a more organic growth, is in a way that there’s actually a massive boost for the producer, instead of having to fight it out toward the lowest cost—because we know that in a low cost environment, it’s going to be the big farm conglomerates that win.”

Farmers in Iowa and neighboring states are also hurting from river flooding this past spring. Yang says a concentrated effort must be made to combat climate change, which he says is boosting crises like flooding, and help communities rebuild from natural disasters.

Helping students afford higher education is a common cause among the Democratic field. Two factors contributing to rising tuition rates, Yang says, are a decrease in state funding for universities and an increase in school costs.

“You have to try and attack both of those causes,” Yang says. “You have to put more public money to work so that the system is more fully funded, and you have to help universities not keep on raising their costs and prices every single year.”

Also in the area last month was Marianne Williamson, author and spiritual activist looking for the Democratic nomination.

Her campaign stands out, she says, because she is speaking not only about healing the symptoms that plague the country but promoting its overall health. Alongside positions on the economy and health care she shares with many of the candidates, Williamson has discussed implementing a Department of Peace and paying reparations for slavery and Native American populations.

“I feel I’m having a conversation that is more in keeping with the mindset and the worldview of the 21st century than most of the traditional candidates,” she says.

With regards to education, Williamson wants to eliminate college loan debt and make college free for students, saying, “I don’t want the American parent to have to stay up at night worrying about how they’re going to send their kids to college. I don’t want kids to have to worry about it.”

And like Yang, she, too, wants to support local farmers, saying that the corporatization of agriculture has caused “tremendous suffering.”

“Look what has been done to the farmers,” Williamson says. “Look what has been done to the land. Look what has been done to the food. This needs to be turned back around.

“We need to return all this land to the farmer; it should be about the farmer, not about huge agribusiness corporate conglomerates—people who don’t even live on this land, don’t farm this land and probably never farmed this land.”

Williamson says public policy should be based around one principle – what would help people thrive?

“The way to create peace and the way to create economic abundance is to uncap people’s dreams is to unleash people’s spirits.”

In Iowa presidential polling, these two candidates have lagged behind, although Yang seems to have gained support in the state over the past month.

But surveys aside, they’re still very much in the running. . .still working to earn the hearts—and votes—of Iowans in February.

Additional reporting by Corbin Hirschhorn.

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