Amid Partisan Rancor, People Remain Lovely


WPR reporters Maureen McCollum and Lindsey Moon have spent the last week talking with voters along Route 51, hearing what they think about the presidential election.Here are some closing thoughts from the road.

One family-sized bag of M and M’s, 245 photos, 6-hours, 39-minutes and 44 miliseconds of audio, and several cups of coffee later, we now know a lot more about this year’s presidential race than we did a week ago. Not all of it has to do with politics.

During our journey this week for WPR’s Road to November project, we learned a lot. We talked with people who have been out of work, people who are still out of work, and many who say they worry the next president could make their circumstances worse.

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We’ve seen first-hand how the recession has affected some, and we’ve spoken with several who are ready for a change, longing for different presidential leadership.

Some of the issues we expected to be important to people in the state were, but there were several issues we thought we would talk about that we didn’t.

Most people have the economy in the forefront of their minds. But not many brought up the environment or education, and it was surprising to hear the number of senior men who were vehemently pro-choice.

The most important lesson we took away from the week, however, had nothing to do with politics.

This election season, most agree the stakes are high. More than any concern we heard from people about women’s rights, job creation, taxes or immigration, the single campaign issue Wisconsin residents thought was most important was ending the polarization and sometimes hostility between Republicans and Democrats.

Amid the partisan rancor and bickering that defines Congress and many state legislatures today, the people who those governmental bodies represent remain lovely. Even if they feel their representation is not, they remain capable of compromise and warmth.

Even people who didn’t want to talk with us this week smiled as they said ‘no thanks,’ and several went out of their way to help us when we needed it. We think if the voters themselves can calmly discuss the issues facing our nation and propose ideas for solutions, there’s hope for our leadership.

We’d like to thank everyone who talked with us and helped us this week, especially the hotels that let us camp out in their continental breakfast rooms after check-out to write our stories.

More stories from Wisconsin Public Radio’s Road to November series are available on this site..

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