Big change starts in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa – If an 11th hour Obama rally, that brought over 1,000 voters out into sub-zero cold to Hoover High here on Jan. 2 is any indication then the 2008 elections are bound to make significant history.

Almost 50 percent of the voters who turned out at the northwest side rally were independents. State-wide, tens of thousands more Iowa independent voters are expected to turn out for Democratic presidential candidates than Republicans at the Jan. 3 caucuses.

If the trends hold they will surpass what independent voters did nationally in 2006 when the outpouring ended Republican control of the Senate and the House.

The rejection of Bush and the ultra right along with the call for change that started in 2006 is continuing in Iowa which could historically change the face of American politics for years to come.

Obama gave a spirited call telling first time voters and independents at the rally that their participation is a responsibility that they must take seriously.

“Should we seize this opportunity, this moment?” he asked.

Obama said he did not decide to run because he had long held ambitions.

“I ran because of what Martin Luther King called the fierce energy of now and that hour is almost upon us. I ran because I believe you are hungry for something different. We cannot wait to bring the war in Iraq to an end,” said Obama.

Obama added, “I’m absolutely convinced that the American people are the greatest agents of change and if we can join together there is no destiny that we cannot fulfill and no problem we can’t solve. You have made me believe again and you have stood up and said enough, not this time.”

Obama mentioned the fight against climate change, the need for affordable college tuition costs, reducing the grip on foreign oil, and the struggle for a national health care plan will all be difficult in the future.

Anita Boston, 60, is African American and works as a lawyer’s assistant. She was born and raised in Des Moines and lives on the northwest side. Health care, education and ending the war in Iraq are the most important issues, she said.

“I absolutely deplore the war,” she told the World. “I have two sons and I cannot fathom the idea of them being over there even if they survived and came back with the possibility of having physical or mental damage,” said Boston.

The caucuses in 1,781 precincts – located in fire stations, school auditoriums, church basements and homes are, according to some polls, drawing twice as many independents into Democratic gatherings than into Republican ones. Turnout for the Democrats is projected to be double than what it is for Republicans.

Because the caucuses shed light on the 2008 political landscape this trend shows potential for a stunning Republican defeat nationwide.

It also shows that the agenda of ending the war in Iraq, health care and economic justice has appeal with many outside the so-called “traditional” Democratic base.

Brenda Johnson, a 55-year-old independent at the Obama rally, told the World that she would attend a Democratic caucus for the first time in her life.

She said she lost her job working for a management consulting firm and her pension along with it and that she was angry because her best friend’s son was killed in Iraq.

“If Obama doesn’t make it,” said Johnson, who is white, “I’ll go for Edwards or Hillary – no more Republicans for me.”