Step into the unapologetically Midwestern souvenir store RAYGUN and you will get a taste of what the rest of the United States “thinks” of the Midwest.
While they usually utilize an exaggerated case of geographical illiteracy, they paint a perceptive take on the lack of acknowledgement given to the Midwest by coastal states.
But every four years, Iowa becomes the center of national political attention. And Simpson sophomore Olivia Anderson wanted four years of Iowa, not just one.
Rewind to AP European History when Anderson was asked about her post-high school plans. She boldly responded, “I want to move to Iowa to work on the Hillary Clinton campaign when she declares.
Clinton hadn’t declared for the election, but the Clinton-supporter took the 1,040.2 mile trip to Iowa.
Simpson beat out Grinnell and Drake for Anderson who had some familiarity with the Hawkeye state having a dad who grew up in Des Moines.
“I heard about Simpson because of their speech and debate program and proximity to Des Moines, which was great for politics,” Anderson said. “I knew that the 2016 election was coming up so I knew I wanted to be in D.C. or here.”
One meeting over coffee later and she got a fellowship with the Clinton campaign last summer, doing everything from door-to-door endorsements to cold calls and social media work.
“It was definitely because I was here in Iowa that I was able to get this opportunity,” Anderson said. “People from all around the country came to Iowa to be a part of this fellows program over the summer. We even had had two girls from Canada.”
The 20-year old political science major was given the opportunity to partake in digital organizing. Mind you, if she or any of the fellows mess up, it’s not an ‘F’ grade. The presidential nomination is put on the line.
“We had really intense training in digital organizing, but we were trained to know that [if you screw up] this will not be good for you or the campaign,” Anderson said.
Anderson saw what a lot of students and young professionals see, which is that you’re no longer just a student, athlete or musician. You’re a brand.
“How you act on the weekends and around people you don’t even know could negatively or positively affect the campaign,” Anderson said. “There have been many times that I was knocking on doors and making phone calls and people were just so rude to me, but I had to act in a mature and diplomatic way.”
On Feb. 1 Anderson saw the culmination of a lot of her work when the caucuses came to Simpson. Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley and Clinton supporters swarmed the Kent Campus Center as caucus-goers pooled from Hubbell Hall downstairs.
If life wasn’t already busy enough, Anderson is now in Argentina for a study abroad term. Anderson returns this fall as the election kicks up ten-fold, and maybe then she’ll say she worked in the campaign of the first woman president.
“I definitely would like to say that I was smart enough to think that there were this many opportunities [in Iowa],” Anderson said. “There’s nothing like this in the country like Iowa and it has exceeded my expectations.”
By Brock Borgeson