On the Road in Iowa with Nuns on the Bus and Vice President Biden


September 18, 2014

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Sister Simone Campbell and Vice President Biden at the Nuns on the Bus 2014 tour kickoff in Des Moines, Iowa. (09/17/2014)

It’s great to be on Nuns on the Bus (NOTB) back home in the heartland of Iowa.  Day one was powerful.  The sun on the golden dome of the Capitol in Des Moines with the bus in the foreground served as the backdrop for the stage where Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, summed up the purpose of our tour: “We the People, We the Voters” can stand up to big money during the 2014 midterm elections. She reminded the crowd that “we the people” does not mean some of us, but all of us.

During this critical election year, we as a national community must use our power to influence our democracy through voting. Participants in the kick-off echoed this with personal examples of change needed and change that is possible. An AFSCME representative and a small business owner talked about the need for fair wages for workers.  Each Sister introduced herself and led the approximately 300 gathered to share with each other aspects of their own voting experiences.

The crowd was ready for Vice President Biden who did not disappoint.  He said that something has gone wrong because we are asking the wrong questions, e.g. should corporations be paying less in taxes?  We need to “deal the middle class back in.”  If they are back in it will create a ladder for the poor.  He spoke about the contribution immigrants have always made in our country.  The VP connected with the people.  They identified with his message.

He wanted to ride the bus with us to lunch.  We went to a wonderful little family owned restaurant where he impressed us with his passion for his faith and his knowledge of the workings of our church.  He didn’t leave until every waitress, child, and customer who wanted to chat with him or have their picture taken with him had their wish granted.

As the NOTB travels for 5 weeks to 10 states, whoever commits not just to vote but to self-identify as a voter will be invited to sign the outside of the bus.  Vice President Biden was the first signer.  In a real sense all of the signers will ride the bus with us!

Prior to the rally there was an opportunity for the “Nuns on the Bus” to meet with attendees.  It was fun for me to ask them why they thought it was important to vote.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund is one of the organizations with boots on the ground in Iowa helping to raise the issues and work to get out the vote.  NOTB teamed with them to knock on doors seeking commitments to vote.  We were in a low-income area of Des Moines impressive for its cultural diversity and very pleased to turn in lots of pledge cards from our efforts.

I’m proud to be from Iowa, proud that Nuns on the Bus is beginning this trip in my home state, and confident that day one of this year’s tour was a foretaste of more great things to come.

For more on the 2014 Nuns on the Bus tour follow #nunsonthebus, the Nuns’ travel blog, and check event dates for a stop near you.

[Photo courtesy of NETWORK]