In Iowa, LAV interns bring ‘infectious passion to the work of defending democracy’

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By Sam Brower, intern, Let America Vote

The aftermath of the 2016 election has been a trying period, and like so many Americans, I’ve been frustrated and confused by the challenges and embarrassments that emerge almost daily in our politics.

But as I reflect on my experience this summer as an intern with Let America Vote, I find myself proud and increasingly hopeful for what’s to come in our country.

I’ve been watching politics for as long as I can remember. I observed my grandmother and uncle participate in local and state government, gaining an early understanding of the political process and the social nature of our democratic institutions. I pursued leadership roles in student government in high school and at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with an ambition to use my abilities to make an impact on my society and classmates.

Let America Vote intern Sam Brower

But even as I seized and enjoyed these opportunities, I tempered my activism by staying out of the spotlight on major issues. I grew up in a conservative part of Northwest Iowa, where where it seemed like my progressive perspective wouldn’t convince even my close friends.

As a college senior last spring, with graduation coming up fast and law school at the University of Minnesota looming on the horizon in the fall, I wondered what I could do to engage further with politics, live my values and just do something to help our situation.

It seemed almost fateful that as I was mulling over these questions I started listening to “Majority 54,” and heard an inspiring Midwesterner named Jason Kander talk about his group Let America Vote and its mission to give everyone a fair shake when it comes to exercising voting rights.

I knew right away it was a mission I wanted to be a part of.

I had witnessed voter-suppression policies and disenfranchisement where I grew up, and it lit a fire in me. I know our country functions best when it engages each and every citizen in our political process and civil conversation. Voting rights are essential to that.

I applied to intern with Let America Vote, and now I’m working with LAV-Iowa’s team in my hometown of Sioux City, helping to elect voting-rights champions statewide and in key local races here. I’ve joined a tight-knit network, sharing responsibilities in volunteer recruitment and voter contact.

The pressure from politicians seeking to undermine our rights is fierce, and it demands powerful, sustained opposition. I’m proud to represent that opposition, and I know I’m making a difference.

I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by an incredibly dedicated group of people in Iowa this summer. My fellow interns and the whole Let America Vote team bring an infectious passion to the work of defending democracy. We’re knocking doors and making phone calls, meeting voters one-on-one to support our candidates and advance the rights of all eligible voters. This experience has given me a new understanding and appreciation for the power of grassroots organizing. It’s shown me what politics is really all about.

And as an intern with Let America Vote in the Hawkeye State, I’ve grown in ways that I never expected. While I’ve always loved politics, it’s only now that I’ve found the confidence to confront major issues in a direct way.

I’ve learned that fulfilling my hopes for our country won’t come easy — but I’m motivated by the struggle. As I knock on thousands of doors in the intense heat of summer in Iowa, I know that I’m a playing a role in a greater mission. I know I’m doing my part.

Sam Brower is an intern for Let America Vote-Iowa based in Sioux City. He’s a recent graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and will attend law school at the University of Minnesota in the fall.