Get Ready to Vote for Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden in a May 2010 rope line in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Now that the primary elections are behind us it is time to look ahead politically toward the general election.

Get ready to vote for Joe Biden as president.

Biden is the only thing standing between us and another four years of a president who seeks to dismantle everything we’ve come to know.

Think I’m exaggerating?

During the coronavirus pandemic the president has suggested cutting payroll taxes multiple times. If he did, it would be an assault on Social Security and Medicare.

Donald Trump repeatedly said if elected to a second term he would cut Social Security and Medicare to address his out of control budget. Twice (Jan. 23 & March 2) he walked those comments back tweeting he would protect Social Security and Medicare. Which is it? Do you trust him?

Even today as the Congress contemplates a new pandemic relief bill Republicans are talking about raiding the Social Security Trust Fund. Some view the trust fund as a piggy bank they’d like to break open and spend if they could.

I’m not concerned for myself but for our daughter and her cohort. Since I was a teenager I knew there would be something to retire on in Social Security and contributed through payroll taxes for 50 years. I’d like the programs to be solvent and available for them.

Is Biden perfect? No. Get over it. Get ready to vote for Joe Biden on Nov. 3.

~ Published in the June 4, 2020 edition of the Solon Economist

Social Commentary Writing

A Death During the Pandemic

Sunrise May 27, 2020

No one wants to die early of COVID-19. This morning Johns Hopkins University reported there have been 1.7 million diagnoses of the disease in the United States and more than 100,000 people died because of it in less than four months.

May the souls of the departed rest in peace. May their families and friends find comfort as we go on with our lives.

I participate in TestIowa, the State of Iowa’s on line COVID-19 testing program. On Monday I was approved for testing and made an appointment at a drive-through test site 11 miles from home. Yesterday I arrived early for my appointment and there was no waiting. The site was well organized with lots of staff, including a half dozen uniformed Iowa National Guard soldiers directing traffic and maintaining security. The site could handle lot more tests than they were. The deep nasal swab used to take a culture was uncomfortable yet tolerable. The results should be posted to my on line portal by Saturday. This post is not about me.

I’m thinking about George Floyd who died after a Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck while he was being arrested. In a time of ubiquitous cameras and recorders the incident was captured on video multiple times and posted on the internet. It rightly provoked outrage. Four police officers were fired after Floyd’s death yet that shouldn’t be the end of it. Why weren’t they arrested? We know the answer. There was no justice for George Floyd. He did not deserve to die.

While passing the milestone of 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus garnered attention yesterday we cannot forget the systemic racism that permeates our culture. Americans are not free unless all of us are free. The death of another black man in the hands of police is evidence we are bound to racism that shows itself only rarely. Its roots run much deeper.

How do we address that? I don’t know but unless we recognize racism for what it is in our lives there will be no addressing it. We have to do more than react when another black man dies. That death tally is not being closely followed yet it is as important and more enduring than the coronavirus.

May George Floyd rest in peace.

Cooking Garden

Planning A Vegetable Garden

Pear Blossoms

Since retiring on Tuesday there has been one good day to work outside.

Tuesday and Wednesday were cool and dark with scattered showers. I read two books, reworked the family budget, and spent most of my time indoors.

Thursday was a glorious spring day when I measured and cleared the remaining three garden plots and planned the sequence of events and layouts. Today looks equally nice and an opportunity to start direct seeding and planting from the greenhouse.

This year may be the best yet start to the garden. I’m hopeful even though a lot of weeding and combating pests lies ahead.

There will be spring garlic from the volunteer patch and arugula planted March 2 is ready to harvest. I’m reviewing cook books for ideas, seeking a spring pasta dish as a chance to combine fresh arugula and last season’s garlic. Repetition is anathema to having a kitchen garden so a key ingredient will be spontaneity.

Mario Batali has a recipe using fresh mushrooms cooked in sweet vermouth with ten cloves of garlic. It sounds good. I have the garlic, but no vermouth and only canned mushrooms from the wholesale club. A recipe I remember from television is Jaime Oliver and Gennaro Contaldo making pasta using wild rocket they found growing in London. The spontaneity of their process is more what I’m after. Deborah Madison has a recipe called spaghetti with overgrown arugula and sheep’s milk ricotta. It’s closest to the ingredients on hand. Where our ice box is lacking and could improve is by having some pecorino or any kind of ricotta cheese. I make this once a year, so I’m in no hurry to get into the kitchen. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, I’ll use whatever ingredients are on hand.

Another spring-use-it-up recipe is a quick version of eggplant Parmesan. When the eggplant harvest comes in, I cut large ones into half-inch disks, roast and freeze them. Every so often I get fresh mozzarella pre-cut in disks from the wholesale club. Canned tomatoes are always in abundance and these three things together make a dish.

Make a simple tomato sauce using canned tomatoes (reserving the juice for soup), basil, dried onions and dried garlic. Whatever you like is fine, even a prepared pasta sauce. Place a few tablespoons of tomato sauce to coat the bottom of the baking dish. Seat frozen eggplant disks in the sauce and cover them with more sauce. Next, a disk of fresh mozzarella on each piece of eggplant. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top and bake in a 400 degree oven on the low-middle shelf. It’s ready as soon as the mozzarella begins to brown. I usually make individual servings in small baking dishes.

A last spring tradition for today is vegetable soup using fresh greens and whatever is in the freezer that needs using up. I always begin with onions, carrots, celery and bay leaves. Key ingredients were a bunch of fresh greens roughly chopped, a quart of canned tomatoes, two quarts of vegetable broth, frozen sweet corn, frozen grated zucchini, and a quarter cup each of dried lentils and barley. There are few rules other than starting with mirepoix and whatever diners like and needs to be used up. It made about a gallon of soup.

Living with a kitchen garden is the center of so much. When arugula, garlic and spring onions start to come in we are ready to break the long winter absence of fresh vegetables.


Brad Kunkel for Johnson County Sheriff

Brad Kunkel Formally Announcing Campaign for County Sheriff, May 5, 2019.

There is a Democratic primary race between Brad Kunkel and Al Fear. I’m supporting Brad Kunkel and here’s why.

He has been a Johnson County deputy sheriff since 2001. His work well prepared him to manage county law enforcement with a minimal learning curve.

He is well-known in the community, having served on the Solon City Council where the decisions he made were well-considered and thoughtful. He has a proven record in governance.

He is engaged in the community, active in many important groups. He is notably a board member of 100+ Men Who Care and of the Domestic Violence Intervention Program.

He is willing to engage with community members individually. Brad and I have had numerous conversations about gardening, especially since he moved to a more rural part of the county. He has the temperament to get along with people and that’s important in an increasingly diverse county.

I hope you will join me in voting for Brad Kunkel for sheriff as our candidate in the June 2 primary election.

~ Published in the May 7, 2020 edition of the Solon Economist


Why I Support Michael Franken

Michael Franken

I am voting for Michael Franken for U.S. Senator in the June 2 Democratic primary election.

He can beat incumbent Senator Joni Ernst on her terms as an advocate for all Iowans and as a former military officer.

After thorough consideration, and interviews with four of the five candidates in the race, Franken offers the best portfolio of qualifications.

During the first of three conversations, I asked about renewal of the New START Treaty, and the 2020 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Franken was knowledgeable both about our treaty obligations and the dangers of ending U.S. participation in arms control. He would support nuclear arms control.

For Franken the climate crisis is a signal issue. The United States has bad leadership and poor strategy to address the climate crisis, he said. He viewed climate change as a national security priority and a question of environmental justice. He would take climate action, while already understanding the science, from the perspective of an engineer with sympathy for the issue. He would act on the climate crisis.

The coronavirus does not recognize national borders. We must transcend nationalism that puts America first and consider the best interests of all of humanity as only the United States can do. A career naval officer who achieved vice admiral rank, Franken’s service took him around the globe in consequential military action. He has the experience to keep America safe while exemplifying the best of what we offer the rest of the world. He would represent Iowa values well.

Franken spent ten years as a military liaison to the U.S. Congress, beginning with work for Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy. His work in the Congress gives him a long head start when it comes to writing legislation and getting Iowa priorities accomplished. Experience matters and Franken has it.

Finally, Franken will support Democratic priorities, whether they are health care, voter rights, equal protection, or a woman’s right to choose. His will be a thoughtful vote, one in which the leadership that made him a three star admiral will shine through.

I like each of the candidates I recently interviewed for different reasons. A loyal Democrat, I’ll support the primary winner. With early voting beginning in two weeks, now is the time to make a stand.

I stand with Michael Franken.


Kimberly Graham – A Voice For ‘Us’

Kimberly Graham

On Tuesday, March 17, Blog for Iowa conducted a telephone interview with U.S. Senate candidate Kimberly Graham. We had intended to do an in-person interview but in consideration of the coronavirus pandemic we maintained social distancing. Graham was thoughtful in her answers to our questions. The following portions of the interview are transcribed from an audio recording. Any mistakes are the author’s.

Blog for Iowa: Why are you in this race?

Kimberly Graham: It’s kind of a perfect storm of three different things. The first, like a lot of women running for office now-a-days, the first thing that made me start thinking about running was the 2016 election. I never had any intention or desire to run for office. It was not something I thought I could even do as a person from a working class background. But the 2016 election was very upsetting to me like it was to a lot of people. And that’s what initially started making me look into running for office myself.

At the time of that election my son was 17 years old. He’s now 20. I couldn’t keep just only voting. I felt like I needed to do something more and that I could do a better job than a lot of our current leaders. And so, I thought that it would be important for my son, and for the kids I’ve represented for the last 20 years and all of their families, for me to step up and run for office so that we would have what I kind of shorthand “have a regular person” running for office.

I think we need “us” to be representing “us.” When I say “us” I mean regular people who are not wealthy, not well connected, who struggle financially, who know what it’s like to try to make it in the United States of America where if we ever did, we no longer have equality of opportunity on a lot of levels.

So I would say the 2016 election, my son, and all of the kids I’ve represented and families I’ve represented for the the last 20 years as an attorney for kids, for abused kids, and for parents in juvenile court. And watching how we’ve been investing in those kids and families less and less and less and less.

BFIA: How does being an attorney prepare you for being a U.S. Senator?

GRAHAM: Yeah, well I think it really uniquely prepares me because I’ve literally had the job of standing up and fighting for vulnerable people for 20 years now. That to me is really, in a nutshell, that should be the job of the U.S. Senator to listen, listen, and listen again. Find out what it is that either your clients or constituents need, whether you’re being a lawyer, whether your being a senator. What is it they need to live lives of health and dignity?

And then you go whether they are a farmer, whether they are a single mom living in Des Moines, whether they are a rural person living in Harlan, you know, whatever they are doing in this state, what do they need? What are their needs to live lives of health and dignity?

And then I see it as my job to go to Washington, D.C. and either draft legislation that doesn’t exist, or co-sponsor legislation, or advocate for those positions, whatever it takes to respond and to help the people that I am charged with representing. Just like I’ve been doing for the last 20 years as an attorney for mostly, not always, but mostly for people in poverty.

So I have a pretty good idea of how we are not doing a very good job taking care of people that either are in poverty or at the lower edge of the middle class in this country because I see it and I work with those people every day.

BFIA: Why does that experience best qualify you among the five Democrats running for the office?

GRAHAM: I’m best qualified because I still to this day, am still doing this work. In other words, I’m seeing in real time what is happening out there. Meaning what it is that people need to lead these lives of health and dignity.

I think also as someone who has owned a solo practice law firm for all of these years, I also understand how incredibly difficult it is to make it as a small business owner. We know that especially in our rural communities here in Iowa, but also in our cities, too, there are a lot of small businesses that are providing a living for people, but just barely.

If we had things that other developed nations have and have had for many years, like universal child care, like paid parental leave, like universal health care.Just those things alone would transform what it is like to own a small business in this country.

It would really promote and support entrepreneurship in this country to an incredibly high level because we would actually be able to own a small business without, you know, half of our income maybe in some cases, even more than half, going out the door for say our medical insurance right off the top which makes it very difficult to be profitable or to be profitable and not to make it.

I also believe that because I spent three years studying the United States Constitution and I know what it says, and I know how to read laws, and read bills, and read and write legislation that that’s really important because the thing, the devil is in the details, it is. It’s really important that somebody who is going to be our U.S. Senator have the ability to read a law, to read a proposed bill and really hold it up to the light and turn it around and look at it this way and that way and from every angle and have an ability to understand what certain things in that bill may mean when you put that bill into action, when the bill is actually implemented.

I should add, too, that I really, really believe that it’s incredibly beneficial for us to have, for everyone to have, like some kind of voice in our representation. For everyone to have some kind of a voice and what I believe has happened over the last forty years or so is that those who really have a substantial voice at this point are the very wealthy and well-connected and/or corporations. And I mean large, huge corporations.

I’m not talking about a little incorporated business in some small town. I’m talking about these mega multinational corporations and there are I believe more lobbyists by far than there are representatives in congress at this point.

So my argument is, my assertion is, that business is more than represented, in fact, I would say they are over-represented. What we do not have, in enough of a critical mass, what we don’t have a large enough number of, are people in congress who come from a public service background like I do. People that have a demonstrated history of trying to help people, as clichéd and eye-rolling as that may sound to some people. I’m doing the kind of law I do for the most part the kind of law that I’ve done in my career because I want to help people to have better lives.

I want to really be clear. It is not that businesses and corporations are the enemy. We need corporations. We need jobs. We need big business. We need small business. We need medium business. We need social workers. We need teachers. We need nurses. We need all of us. I believe the problem has become that only those multinational corporations for the most part are really being represented in congress. That’s not okay.

Senator Tom Harkin started his career at Iowa legal aid, and so did I. I really believe that most people had quite a lot of respect for Tom Harkin. Tom Harkin, it appears clear to me anyway, became a congressman and then a United States Senator because he wanted to help people. He stood up for unions. He stood up for human rights the world over. He stood up for children. He stood up for people with disabilities. That’s important. That is the kind of U.S. Senator that I intend to be.

BFIA: Let’s talk about Joni Ernst. Why is this senate seat flippable this cycle?

GRAHAM: To me there are several indications that it is flippable. The first one and probably the most obvious is that her polling numbers continue to drop like a stone. I mean, they just continue to drop, drop, drop, pretty much every time there is a new poll she is less popular.

Number two is if we look at the presidential election, the caucuses here in Iowa, what we see, at least among the Democrats is that the ideas of Senator Warren and Senator Sanders, if you add their polling numbers together for the last year and a half in Iowa, that is the majority, at least of Democrats. I can’t speak to the majority of all Iowans; although it is now, I believe the most recent polling indicates the majority of all Iowans believe we should have some kind of universal health care and that pharmaceuticals like insulin, people shouldn’t be allowed to charge what they are charging for insulin and those kinds of ideas. To me, there seems to be a clear shift that people are very tired of politics as usual and I believe that that’s part of how Senator Ernst got elected. Because people were getting tired of politics as usual and what was her campaign slogan?

BFIA: She was going to make ‘em squeal.

GRAHAM: Correct. To me that slogan says, “I’m going to go root out that corruption. It is not going to be politics as usual. I’m going to get in there, and I’m going to be different, and I’m not going to kowtow to powerful special interests.” That’s what that said. I believe that’s why she won by a pretty hefty margin. There’s other reasons I think she won but that’s the main one.

I also believe that’s the main reason President Trump won Iowa is because people are sick and tired, regular working people who are working all these jobs, don’t have health insurance, are barely getting by and hanging on by their fingernails if they happen to be at least nominally middle class, they are still hanging on by their fingernails in a lot of cases because of the high cost of medical stuff, and college, and day care, and all the other stuff. They are tired of it. We’re tired of it. We’re tired of working so, so hard.

We are some of the hardest working people on the planet. Americans are very productive. We work hard but we are not seeing the rewards of that. We are falling further and further behind financially. More of us are hurting financially. We may have jobs, but yeah, we have two jobs because we can’t make it on one. There’s all the gig economy. We have fewer and fewer unions, fewer and fewer union jobs that come with benefits and come with a pension and all of that.

Over these past forty years we’ve just seen this erosion of opportunity and people are sick of it. I think that that is what left us unfortunately vulnerable to a really, really skilled and good con man.

I don’t really blame the person who got conned if they got conned by a skilled con man. I blame the con man. What did he say? He went all around Iowa, including the Keokuk area. He stood on the floor of the, I think it was, the Siemens factory and said “This factory is not leaving here. These jobs are not leaving here. I will keep these jobs in America.” Those jobs are gone, they are gone now. He went around and promised people and sold people a bill of goods. People wanted to hear that because they don’t want their jobs leaving already economically depressed areas. Here’s this guy that they see as a successful businessman. You know, oh, Trump he’s a multi-millionaire… He has this persona that he’s such a great businessman and I think a lot of people mistakenly thought and believes he was going to come in here and was also going to make ‘em squeal.

(Editor’s note: The interview covered additional topics, including Graham’s approach to the climate crisis. For more information about her views on issues, click here).

Social Commentary

Living with the Coronavirus

Lettuce in the greenhouse.

Estimates of how long the coronavirus pandemic will last vary from a couple of weeks to several months. The best guess is we’ll have a better idea once the number of contagious incidents reaches its peak.

Two and a half months after the virus emerged in China the government is beginning to lift the draconian measures implemented in its wake. Public health officials there remain vigilant for a second or third wave of the disease. The pandemic is not over.

In the U.S. we continue to be on the upward slope of the curve, and in our county the case count ticks upward with no indication we have peaked. News media explain we are a week to ten days behind Italy as the viral course continues to develop.

A friend in town displayed symptoms and was tested. He waits for the test results at home in self-quarantine and shut down public access to his place of business for two weeks. The pandemic is pretty close to home and we are just getting started.

The continued shortage of testing obfuscates the path of the vector. If we were testing more, one believes there would be more reported cases. We aren’t so we don’t know.

Given the expectation of a several month pandemic it’s hard to decide what to do about work at the home, farm and auto supply store. They are okay with people taking off work for any illness, but at some point they will need me to show up. They don’t seem aware of the idea that employees might be infected by going to work. They’ve had no discussion about closing the retail store and for the time being, I want to keep the job. I’ll probably go in today after calling off yesterday, and try to maintain a distance from co-workers and customers. We’ll see how that goes.

I don’t know if the coronavirus will be personally life-changing. My outlook is we can avoid infection, although I’m not sure how I came to that conclusion. It’s likely positive thinking of which the coronavirus is unaware. During my sick day yesterday I considered whether this pandemic would precipitate changes that are coming in my life anyway: leaving the regular job, staying home more, and conserving our income. As it runs its course I’ll consider that more. For now we’re sustaining our lives in a pandemic-stricken world and doing our best to survive and thrive.

Social Commentary

Wheels Coming Off

Two Wagon Loads of Onions

This weekend was unsettling beginning with Friday’s news that OPEC couldn’t reach consensus on reducing crude oil supply. Russia dissented. In response, Saudi Arabia decided to slash prices and increase production by as many as 2 million barrels per day.

“This OPEC summit was among the worst meetings I have ever seen during the history of this organization,” Bijan Zanegneh, Iranian petroleum minister told reporters on Friday.

Oil prices fell so far, one could purchase two barrels of crude for less than the cost of a liter of Purell hand sanitizer in Manhattan.

Futures trading in the 10-year U.S. Treasury note yield dipped below 0.50 percent for the first time ever last night. It should be hella day when markets open this morning. One aspect of our being in debt is we own no stocks and therefore are insulated from daily market peaks and valleys, but still…

Speaking of hand sanitizer, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced last night the first three cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in Iowa. The individuals live in our county seat and have been quarantined at home. I’m weighing whether or not to attend meetings in town this evening because of it. National leadership on identifying the emerging risks of coronavirus, and doing something to prevent a national crisis over the pandemic, has been absent. Our local warehouse club was rationing basic food stuffs, even though few Iowans seem likely to starve if they have to stay home for a while to avoid contact with the disease.

Also Sunday night, Yonhap News Agency of South Korea reported North Korea launched three projectiles toward the East Sea. The projectiles are believed to be missiles being developed as a result of stalled talks over denuclearizing the Korean peninsula. The U.S. is not leading efforts to rid the north of nuclear weapons, but rather seeking to distract us from our own nuclear complex modernization and testing of new nuclear weapons. American leadership is absent in compliance with Article 6 of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

Changes announced this weekend include the orchard where I worked the last seven seasons. On Friday they posted job openings for my manager and the bakery manager, who have worked there since before the current owners bought it in 2009. There have been discussions about extending the season to include other activities and produce for a couple of years. It looks like plans are coming to fruition (yes, that’s an apple joke), which means changes in staffing to accommodate new demands.

We’ll see if I’m invited back for the fall season, and if I am, whether I would work for a new manager in a new retail environment. Our personal situation has changed since 2013 when I first applied for a job there. The changes at the orchard are evidence of the shifting sand of a small business trying to survive in a competitive marketplace. If the job ceases to be fun, I won’t return.

Why all this now? It may be the beginning of all the wheels coming off the wagon of society. Whatever the causes, it is going to be a rough ride at least through this year, and maybe for a lot longer.

When I returned from my Sunday shift at the farm I walked the garden. It’s still pretty barren, garlic hasn’t begun to emerge. The plot where I sowed lettuce was dry with a few deer footprints in it. I went to bed worried about late winter drought. When I woke there was rain against the bedroom window. Welcome relief from the dry spell and a sign that all hope is not lost.


Back to the Senate

Elizabeth Warren at the Iowa Memorial Union, Iowa City, Iowa, Dec. 2, 2019.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren suspended her campaign to become the Democratic nominee for president yesterday.

I will support the party’s nominee as he emerges from the summer convention. It chokes me up a bit to use the pronoun “he,” but I will support him.

More to the point, it became tiring to say the same thing over and over again during the last six months: “If Democrats don’t nominate a woman for president, we’ll never have a female president.”

While the statement is true — I don’t see Republicans nominating a women this cycle or for the foreseeable future — inherent misogyny among women and men prevented any of the highly skilled and credentialed female U.S. Senators from garnering the nomination.

To refresh our memories, they were (in the order in which they dropped out) Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren. I had issues with each of them, and that’s to be expected. The good news is they all returned to the senate, and their senate seats were never in jeopardy in their current terms.

There were and are good reasons to consider the men in the race for the presidential nomination. There are also reasons why two men advanced beyond Super Tuesday unrelated to misogyny. There is something there though. An attitude, belief, outlook, or whatever, that informed people this cycle was not a woman’s turn to get the nomination. Maybe I have some of that inside me and just can’t recognize it.

So we go on.

Here’s the email Warren sent to me and countless others yesterday morning. I felt sad as I read this in the break room at the home, farm and auto supply store. I was sad enough to recognize the feeling. Elizabeth Warren won’t be president in 2020, or probably ever. It is reassuring she will be in the U.S. Senate and has never stopped working for us.


I’m going to start with the news. I wanted you to hear it straight from me: today, I’m suspending our campaign for president.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything you have poured into this campaign.

I know that when we set out, this was not the news you ever wanted to hear. It is not the news I ever wanted to share. But I refuse to let disappointment blind me — or you — to what we’ve accomplished. We didn’t reach our goal, but what we have done together — what you have done — has made a lasting difference. It’s not the scale of the difference we wanted to make, but it matters — and the changes will have ripples for years to come.

What we have done — and the ideas we have launched into the world, the way we have fought this fight, the relationships we have built — will carry through for the rest of this election, and the one after that, and the one after that.

So think about it:

We have shown that it is possible to build a grassroots movement that is accountable to supporters and activists and not to wealthy donors — and to do it fast enough for a first-time candidate to build a viable campaign. Never again can anyone say that the only way that a newcomer can get a chance to be a plausible candidate is to take money from corporate executives and billionaires. That’s done.

We have shown that it is possible to inspire people with big ideas, possible to call out what’s wrong and to lay out a path to make this country live up to its promise.

We have shown that race and justice — economic justice, social justice, environmental justice, criminal justice — are not an afterthought, but are at the heart of everything that we do.

We have shown that a woman can stand up, hold her ground, and stay true to herself — no matter what.

We have shown that we can build plans in collaboration with the people who are most affected.

This campaign became something special, and it wasn’t because of me. It was because of you. I am so proud of how you fought this fight alongside me: you fought it with empathy and kindness and generosity — and of course, with enormous passion and grit.

Some of you may remember that long before I got into electoral politics, I was asked if I would accept a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that was weak and toothless. And I replied that my first choice was a consumer agency that could get real stuff done, and my second choice was no agency and lots of blood and teeth left on the floor. In this campaign, we have been willing to fight, and, when necessary, we left plenty of blood and teeth on the floor. I can think of one billionaire who has been denied the chance to buy this election.

And we did all of this without selling access for money. Together, you and 1,250,000 people gave more than $112 million dollars to support this campaign. And we did it without selling one minute of my time to the highest bidder. People said that would be impossible. But you did that.

Together, we built a grassroots campaign that had some of the most ambitious organizing targets ever — and then we turned around and surpassed them.

Our staff and volunteers on the ground knocked on over 22 million doors across the country. We made 20 million phone calls and sent more than 42 million texts to voters. That’s truly astonishing. It is.

We also advocated for fixing our rigged system in a way that will make it work better for everyone.

A year ago, people weren’t talking about a two-cent wealth tax, Universal Child Care, cancelling student loan debt for 43 million Americans while reducing the racial wealth gap, breaking up big tech, or expanding Social Security. And now they are. And because we did the work of building broad support for all of those ideas across this country, these changes could actually be implemented by the next president.

A year ago, people weren’t talking about corruption, and they still aren’t talking about it enough — but we’ve moved the needle, and a hunk of our anti-corruption plan is already embedded in a House bill that is ready to go when we get a Democratic Senate.

And we also did it by having fun and by staying true to ourselves. We ran from the heart. We ran on our values. We ran on treating everyone with respect and dignity. But it was so much more. Four-hour selfie lines and pinky promises with little girls. A wedding at one of our town halls. And we were joyful and positive through all of it. We ran a campaign not to put people down, but to lift them up — and I loved pretty much every minute of it.

I may not be in the race for president in 2020, but this fight — our fight — is not over. And our place in this fight has not ended.

Because for every young person who is drowning in student debt, for every family struggling to pay the bills on two incomes, for every mom worried about paying for prescriptions or putting food on the table, this fight goes on.

For every immigrant and African American and Muslim and Jewish person and Latinx and transwoman who sees the rise in attacks on people who look or sound or worship like them, this fight goes on.

For every person alarmed by the speed with which climate change is bearing down upon us, this fight goes on.

And for every American who desperately wants to see our nation healed and some decency and honor restored to our government, this fight goes on.

When I voted on Tuesday at the elementary school down the street, a mom came up to me. She said she has two small children, and they have a nightly ritual. After the kids have brushed teeth and read books and gotten that last sip of water and done all the other bedtime routines, they do one last thing before the two little ones go to sleep: Mama leans over them and whispers, “Dream big.” And the children together reply, “Fight hard.”

So if you leave with only one thing, it must be this: Choose to fight only righteous fights, because then when things get tough — and they will — you will know that there is only option ahead of you: nevertheless, you must persist.

You should be so proud of what we’ve done together — what you have done over this past year.

Our work continues, the fight goes on, and big dreams never die.

Thanks for being a part of this,



Freak Out Monday by the Lake

With Elizabeth Warren at the Iowa Memorial Union, Iowa City, Iowa.

I’ve been saying for some time that Super Tuesday — the day 14 states, American Samoa, and Democrats Abroad hold presidential primary elections and caucuses — is the decider for who is viable and who is not in the Democratic presidential primary race.

After mixed results in four early states, the field is down to four main contenders: Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. After today’s voting we’ll see if Bloomberg and Warren remain viable. We’ll see if Bloomberg’s late entry coupled with spending hundreds of millions of dollars of his own money will get him in the game. We’ll also see if Warren’s ground game of political organizers is relevant to our modern politics. The expectation from national media and polling is the race will sort into a confrontation between so-called establishment or moderate Democrats backing Joe Biden, and the non-Democrat progressive Bernie Sanders. I suppose readers know all of that by 4:20 a.m. on Super Tuesday when I’m writing this. I hope there is a clear winner after votes are tabulated.

My plan for Monday did not include dealing with friends and neighbors freaking out over the possibility of a Sanders nomination. What I’m hearing in Big Grove Township is mostly fear that if nominated, Sanders would lose the general election, that he wouldn’t gain the support needed to prevail. Folks were urging support for Joe Biden, who is an equally flawed candidate. My chips were all on the table long before yesterday. The Iowa Caucuses are over and I stood with Elizabeth Warren with no regrets. I made another financial contribution to Warren’s campaign last night and drank a shot of whisky over ice cubes made from the Silurian Aquifer. What a day!

If we review who’s left in the Democratic primary, the top tier is comprised of septuagenarians I ruled out early in the process. I felt we needed new faces to breathe fresh air into the meandering beast the Democratic Party had become. Regretfully, none of the new faces who entered the race had staying power. Some of them, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke, rallied around Biden last night in Dallas, Texas.

In addition to it being freak out Monday by the lake, a number of high profile Biden endorsements were released in advance of today’s voting, including Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer and Susan Rice. Biden is winning the endorsement game with eight current U.S. Senators, 21 former senators, and more than 50 current U.S. Representatives. A question we have to ask ourselves is how much do endorsements matter in 2020? They certainly contributed to the freak out phenomenon going on around here.

When asked, my friends said they would support and work for whoever is the Democratic nominee at the national convention this summer. If it’s Biden or Sanders, they are concerned about losing the general election. Nontheless, to a person they will support our nominee. I don’t know if I talked any of them off the ceiling yesterday because this freak out is not about reason or logic.

What was disappointing was the statement one person made that this was not the year for a woman to win the presidency. If not now, then when, I asked. If we don’t nominate a female for president, there will never be a female president. Their arguments, based on fear of losing the general election, did not hold water.

Maybe Trump was right to focus on Biden in the first place. If that’s who we choose over reasonable and serious objections, Republicans have a well developed plan to win against him. That’s not a case for nominating someone else, I’m just saying.

Today voters will decide who moves forward. It’s now or never for Bloomberg and Warren, assuming Sanders and Biden have reasonable showings. The worst that could happen is the electorate is not of a single mind about who should be the nominee. That would drag the process out for the rest of March when we could be consolidating around a candidate. That’s a flaw in Iowa going first: in 2016 and 2020 we did not produce a clear winner.

I’m ready to get beyond Super Tuesday as soon as the votes are counted. There’s a lot to be done in the coming months and we need to get after it. Hopefully the freak out will abate and we’ll know where we stand. Perhaps that’s too reasonable a wish in the new era of politics.