“Are you a registered voter?” I ask the folks meandering through the booths and midway or gathered with family and friends along the beautiful New Richmond waterfront. “I can register you and deliver it to the board of elections”, I offer.
A few eagerly fill out the registration form, visibly relieved that they are exercising their freedom to determine their fate. Most respond that they are already registered, and I introduce myself, hand them my card, and ask for their write-in vote.
But a surprising number of men gruffly say, “I'm not registered. I don't vote.” There's always a tinge of anger in the statement, an “I dare you to ask me why.”
So, I ask them “why?”
Usually they can't articulate a reason because they're stonewalling--so overwhelmed by a situation that the only out is complete shutdown. Persevering as I am, I still stick out my hand, look him in the eye, and say “I'm Janet Everhard, I live here in New Richmond. Do you?” And sometimes that leads to a tiny opening of a very closed mind.
I'm surprised that people so openly share the confusion and angst they feel over this election with a complete stranger. My patients always shared their deepest thoughts and fears with me because I was their doctor. Yet people who made my aquaintence 30 seconds ago, lament “who can I believe?” “Where did middle-of the-road go?” “Why is there so much hate?” “I don't get my parents choices. They raised me better than this!” “Are people absolutely insane?”
I feel their pain and I let them in on my own cure for the crazy that surrounds us. Strip away the rhetoric and get down to basic values. Talk values not sound bites. Talk values not personality. Talk values not hair and pantsuits. Talk values not polls. Talk values...and you and I, whatever our political inclination, can find common ground.