2020 candidates hear the people’s voices

Aubrey Lathrop

A people’s caucus was held on Sunday, Jan. 12 at Davenport North High School. All were welcome, and local residents asked questions to presidential candidates about current issues
Candidates Bernie Sanders (D), Joe Walsh (R) and John Delaney (D) answered questions about topics including transformative justice, education, immigration and environmental justice. 
Each candidate gave a three-minute opening statement followed by 20 minutes of questions and a three minute closing statement.
When discussing immigration, Sanders described the system as “broken and incredibly cruel,” and that the country must “end the demonization of the undocumented people in this country.”
Transformative justice was another topic that Sanders addressed. He said that this system is in need of repair as well and claimed that boosting education and job availability will prevent people from being sent to jail. 
Walsh was asked about the topic of climate change in relation to the Republican Party. He made a statement to show he will fight to get his fellow members involved in the environmental dialogue.
Delaney discussed the rates of children in low-income and predominantly African American neighborhoods being sent to jail. He claimed to break the “school-to-prison pipeline.” 
The unique part of this caucus was the interaction with the people. The general public is able to be heard and problems normally swept under the rug are brought into the light. 
“When you see the number of people from very different backgrounds coming together, it’s impressive and hopeful” George Johannes, volunteer and audience member, said.
According to attendees, the interactions between politicians and the people are changing previous conceptions about the government. “I think the politicians are very sensitive to things like this, in terms of knowing that they need to be responsive. I think that hopefully, the days of smoke-filled rooms are over,”Johannes said. 
Quintin Brookshire, a 14-year-old from Belleville, IL was one of the panelists chosen to ask the candidates questions. He said he experienced racism at school from a young age. His platform was to end the zero tolerance policy in schools. He was chosen based on an essay he had written and submitted to the organizers of the event.
“It was a really eye opening experience for me, this is what I’m supposed to do,” Brookshire said about his experience with speaking on his beliefs at the event.
Because this event is focused on the upcoming 2020 election, Brookshire is too young to vote. Despite this fact, he plans to continue his social activism in the future.
“I can use my voice to ensure that people know these injustices so I can get them to follow me in fixing this and speaking out to higher powers,” Quintin said on his plans to have an impact on the nation without being able to vote.
The event was run by several organizations, one of them being the Lane Evans Legacy Project, to honor namesake congressman Lane Evans and his belief in closing the political divide. Michael J. Wilson is a member and helped coordinate different aspects of the caucus. According to Wilson, the foundation made an effort to have a racially, geographically and gender-diverse group on stage asking questions.
 Wilson said that Lane Evans would have been happy with how the event turned out. “I think he would have liked the flavor and the tenor and the way the conversation happened, but I think he would’ve been the first to recognize that this is one point in a whole pathway.”
This event resonated with many who attended. The dynamic was different from other political events due to its roots with the public. “It isn’t the beginning, it isn’t the end, but you need events like this to help encourage people and educate people and get people involved,” Wilson said to describe the event.
“I think it’s important to have events like this so that you can make a change and you can make an impact in the nation and let people know that you have a voice,” Quintin said. “You can put ideas out there and let people know what’s going on, what the injustices are. They help provide an intelligence that I think our country needs.”