Democratic presidential primary schedule needs serious evaluation

Dan Guild: “The modern primary schedule greatly reduces the voice of African Americans in the selection of the Democratic presidential candidate.” -promoted by Laura Belin

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, let us remember the importance he placed on African American access to the ballot box. A portion of a speech he gave in 1957 is below.  The whole text is worth reading.

But even more, all types of conniving methods are still being used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters. The denial of this sacred right is a tragic betrayal of the highest mandates of our democratic tradition. And so our most urgent request to the president of the United States and every member of Congress is to give us the right to vote. [Audience:] (Yes)

Give us the ballot, and we will no longer have to worry the federal government about our basic rights…

Give us the ballot (Give us the ballot), and we will transform the salient misdeeds of bloodthirsty mobs (Yeah) into the calculated good deeds of orderly citizens.

Unfortunately, the modern primary schedule greatly reduces the voice of African Americans in the selection of the Democratic presidential candidate.

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Why Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who can beat Donald Trump

Caleb Gates lives and works in Cedar Rapids. He provides case management to new refugee families and advocates for new Iowans. -promoted by Laura Belin

When I came to bed on election night 2016 and told my wife Donald Trump had won, she cried and asked me, “Are you going to lose your job?”

I worked with refugees. In December 2017 I learned Trump’s anti-refugee policies were shutting down the program I worked for. I lost my job the following month.

I was blessed to find another job working with refugees, but many others in that field were not so fortunate. The Trump administration has stained the moral fabric of our country and decimated our global reputation. Many lives have been damaged or even destroyed as a direct result of the actions and decisions of this President. The stakes are high, and Democrats, independents, and even many Republicans feel it.

Given the stakes, priority number 1 for election 2020 is beating Donald Trump. We Iowans have a political responsibility to send a message to the country and the world, a responsibility greater than we deserve as less than 1 percent of the U.S. population and whiter and older than the country as whole. I will vote for whoever wins the Democratic nomination, but I want my caucus vote to help choose the right nominee. After mulling this decision for the last year, the answer is now clear: Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who can beat Donald Trump.

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Reframing racism

Charles Bruner is a longtime advocate for policies that support children and strengthen families. He has endorsed Elizabeth Warren for president. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowans like to see presidential candidates in the flesh, but sometimes their surrogates offer perspectives that deserve as much attention.

In early January, Heather McGhee spoke on behalf of Elizabeth Warren to a small group of Iowans at Smokey Row in Des Moines. Her message, however, was one that deserves to be considered and heeded by Democrats and progressives more generally.

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How will the Democratic candidates reduce the risk of nuclear war?

Greg Thielmann grew up in Newton and worked for more than 30 years on nuclear weapons issues in the Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Foreign Service, and the Senate Intelligence Committee. He currently serves as a board member of the Arms Control Association. -promoted by Laura Belin

When I was growing up in central Iowa during the Cold War, I sometimes found myself headed west on Interstate 80, imagining the way nuclear war would be likely to arrive in Iowa – a series of Soviet nuclear ground bursts in Omaha to destroy Strategic Air Command Headquarters, bathing Iowa in a heavy dose of radioactive fallout.

Now the Cold War is over, but not the nuclear threat. The Trump administration has abandoned the anti-nuclear deal with Iran and six other states. President Trump’s efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament on the Korean peninsula have fizzled. The U.S. has pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia and is dithering over Moscow’s offer to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), the only remaining limit on the world’s largest nuclear arsenals. 

Meanwhile, the Trump administration proposes spending trillions of dollars to build new strategic weapons.

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Why I am supporting Elizabeth Warren

Amanda Rex-Johnson is an activist in central Iowa. -promoted by Laura Belin

I started volunteering on presidential campaigns last year long before I had identified my favorite candidate. My goal was to support folks getting more involved in the Iowa caucuses while advocating accessibility needs directly to the campaigns.

Not all the campaigns were easy to engage with. Despite multiple efforts, I was unable to connect with a top candidate’s operation here in Des Moines. When I found out that one of his top staffers would be a guest speaker at a training I was attending, I was excited to finally have a chance to ask how to volunteer and what they were doing to make their campaign more accessible for volunteers and organizers.

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Why I support Amy Klobuchar

Jackie Wellman is a Democratic volunteer in West Des Moines and a board member and Iowa ambassador of the Spastic Paraplegia Foundation. -promoted by Laura Belin

For years I was in denial about having a progressive, rare motor neuron disease, but the fact is that I have Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia.  Senator Amy Klobuchar is the co-sponsor of the rare disease caucus.  When someone is fighting for people like me and my son, they deserve a look. 

The senator was at my house in 2016 while stumping for Hillary Clinton.  I went to see her speak to the Asian Latino Coalition last April, walking away with even more appreciation.

After reading more about her and speaking to her, I decided she was the one I would be working for. Last June, I endorsed after trying to see as many candidates as I could.  Here are the reasons why:

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