A guest piece from Claire Carstens, former chair of the Youth Polk County Democrats.
Politics is a part of my family. For years growing up, my mom, Shanda, and grandpa, Paul, were politically active and would include me in conversations about politics. They taught me how important it is to be involved in your community. It was this support and guidance that pushed me to get involved in Karin Derry’s Iowa House District 39 campaign in 2018.
After volunteering for the campaign, I wanted to work to engage youth voters in politics more broadly, which led me to start the Youth Polk County Democrats last summer. It was that work that helped me to really understand the importance of the 2020 election and in particular the Iowa caucuses.
Kirsten Gillibrand first caught my attention at Des Moines Pride. I saw how much she really connected with people, taking an interest in and concern with the issues that are important to Iowans. As a leader in the youth political community, an authentic, compassionate candidate was at the top of my criteria list.
Kirsten has that, and it is why, today, I am announcing my endorsement of Kirsten Gillibrand for president.
In my role as chair of Youth Polk County Democrats, I have had the privilege to lead a variety of large events with political leaders. Fred Guttenberg, the father of a Parkland High School victim Jamie Guttenberg, dialed in for a Skype presentation to discuss how we could use our voices as students to push for common sense gun reform. We went on to host a yoga class with now-3rd District Congresswoman Cindy Axne and a Gun Violence Town Hall featuring Congressman Eric Swalwell and Parkland Survivor Cameron Kasky.
The quality in these leaders and others that impressed me the most was their compassion for the issues they are fighting for. These days, we seem to lack care and compassion for other people, and it is deeply important to me that our nominee embodies compassion for others.
Kirsten clearly has the heart that we so desperately need. Youth Polk County Democrats allowed me to see the disillusionment so many of us have with the leadership of this country. It is hard to feel like our voices are being heard. We need someone who connects on a deeper level with people. Someone who interacts and listens and then uses those interactions to shape their agenda and purpose in the government. Kirsten travels around with her black notebook and listens to all Americans from a group of young people like myself, the disability community, rural communities, or those impacted by severe flooding.
I see the output of that black notebook in the policies she has proposed. Her climate change plan, an issue deeply important to my generation, is one of the highest ranked plans by Greenpeace. Her plan includes provisions that would give communities here in Iowa the resources to combat climate change, acknowledging the power and influence our rural communities have in addressing it. Kirsten has supported Medicare For All since many of us in Youth Polk County Democrats were in preschool — she knew then and she knows now that access to health care is an economic barrier for me and my friends, and health care should be treated as a right, not a privilege.
Most of us realize how crucial and historic the upcoming 2020 election is for our country. We knew it after the results of 2016, and it’s what pushed so many of us to get involved in our political process. I learned from my mom and grandpa how important it is to be active in my community, and I have watched Kirsten live out those values on the campaign trail. Now I am excited to start working hard to make sure Kirsten is our nominee.
Today, I will be at Iowa State University, where I am starting my sophomore year, and will join the Kirsten for Iowa team for a campus day of action. I am excited to share with my classmates why Kirsten will be the best president for me and other young people across Iowa. There has never been a more crucial time to get involved, and I can’t wait to have my fellow Cyclones join me on Team Gillibrand.
by Claire Carstens
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