OPINION BY ANNA WOLFINGER
With The Bruin working on multiple campaigns at the Iowa Caucus, I, as well as other students, have found themselves needing to support a candidate that they will not necessarily vote for in the November presidential election. I identify as a Republican, and when given the option to work for either the Biden, Sanders or the Iowa GOP campaign, I decided to sign up for Joe Biden’s. Even though I plan on voting Republican in the coming election, I wanted to see the other side of the political spectrum. Many other students shared the same intentions; Two other student Republicans worked with me on the Biden campaign and another left-swung student attended the Iowa GOP campaign.
“It’s difficult being a Republican working on Democratic campaigns because they don’t share the same views as you,” said Emily Brandyberry, Wadsworth High School junior. “It’s a good opportunity to see how the different sides work. I chose Biden because if I had to choose a Democrat, it would be Biden.”
Coming from Wadsworth, a predominately conservative small town, I adopted these views as my own. Staying in Iowa and working on these campaigns has given me and these other students a side to politics that we were not exposed to back at home.
“I really liked that you get that different perspective in politics because coming from a conservative Wadsworth, we talk about the same things we all face the same middle-class problems,” said Wadsworth High School Senior, Kate Messam. “Meeting with people with different life experiences that we haven’t encountered in life is eye-opening. It’s important to remember to look outside of Wadsworth. There’s a whole nation out there. Democrat or Republican, we all make up the country.”
I found myself conflicted and even questioned signing up for the Biden campaign, as I strongly disagreed with many of the views and ideas brought by Biden representatives and volunteers. Typically, individuals who volunteer for political campaigns are strong to either the right or left. Because I needed to cold call and promote Joe Biden to help the campaign, I had to keep my opinion to myself. I often had to refrain from refuting many ideas about the current status of America and President Trump, but this allowed me to listen and appreciate what other people had to say.
“I had to go along with some issues even though I don’t believe in them, just because I’m working on the campaign,” said Brandyberry. “It helps me see things from the Democratic point of view. I understand where they’re coming from better than I did before.”
Given that I was working on a Democratic campaign, I did not expect people to know that I was a Republican. However, some things that were said were very left-swung and borderline uncivil.
“The downside is that sometimes it does feel disrespectful, even though no one from the campaign knows my political affiliation,” said Messam. “But then there are the other people who take it as they want to unite the country. Hearing that is really refreshing. In 2016, you wouldn’t have heard people say that. There are more benefits than downsides of working with the Democrats.”
Working with these Democrats really gave me the opportunity to see the other side of the presidential election. These students, myself included, realized that people are more than just the labels we associate ourselves with.
“Being a fairly liberal Independent, the volunteers from the Iowa GOP were the nicest people I have ever talked to,” said Seth Smalley, Wadsworth High School senior. “I was going into the campaign expecting to be judged for my beliefs but they were very understanding and even anticipated that not all of the students that came would be die-hard Republicans.”
I am glad that I chose to work on the Biden campaign. Even though I am still firm in my conservative beliefs, my mind has been opened to at least hearing what people have to say. In politics, Americans have a tendency of going into conversations with the intention of changing the other person’s point of view. I have found myself in this exact situation, talking over someone and thinking of a refutation before they are even done talking. Working on a Democratic campaign has allowed me to listen to what others have to say, accepting it as their opinion. No conversation should start with a motive to change someone.
“Rather than fighting with the Democrats, it was nice to sit down and have a conversation with them and understand their viewpoints and why they believe what the believe,” said Brandyberry.
If I were to go back, I would still choose to work for the Joe Biden campaign. I loved actually sitting down and talking with people about the future of America and our views on policies and other topics. This experience has allowed me to open my mind to the possibilities of other viewpoints, and I urge anyone else to listen to others as well.