Thursday, October 30, 2008

Springfield, MO and Van Buren, MO: Show Me Something Good

See the Van Buren and Springfield videos here

Sharon, Janet, and Shirley of Van Buren, Missouri remind me of my mother and her friends. Warm and generous; independent, thoughtful and opinionated.

They are perhaps the most welcoming and most conservative people we have met on this trip. They share a deep concern for this country and speak of this election, without the hyperbole of the campaigns, as the most critical of their lifetime. And they will vote for John McCain.

My mother discusses the election with the same vigor, she cares deeply for the nation and sees the selection of our next leader as among the most important choices she has made in her 60 some years. She will vote for Barack Obama.

As with most people who take more than a passing interest in us and our subject matter, the Van Buren ladies asked after the consensus as to who of the combatants has the most support. Our sampling of a few hundred people is small, but the only agreement we get is not on a candidate, a plan, or a party. But rather a problem.

To hear it out here, America is in trouble. People are mad as hell at the Wall Street bailout. Mad as hell at the Bush Administration. Mad as hell at NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX. There is a deep distrust of institutions.

But importantly, I think, Americans haven't given up on democracy. Although we find our fair share of "I don't care" and "it won't matter," it is counterbalanced particularly among young people of both political stripes (and to hear it from Springfield, Missouri and Sterling, Colorado, the stereotype that all informed and active young people are Obamaites is way off) by an understanding that who our leader is during these unfortunate times matters.

See the Van Buren and Springfield videos here

1 comment:

Ron Edwards said...

I want to thank you and Aljazeera for this incredible series. It is hands-down the most searing, yet inspiring portrait of the U.S. that I've seen associated with any election cover, ever.

It also highlights the profound disconnection between Washington (D.C.) campaign strategizing and the reality of the electorate. What my fellow citizens understand is often far deeper than they're given credit for. The diverse instances that illustrate what some individuals fail to understand should be crucial to focus campaigning on, more than any national candidate & staff imagine.

I'm also gaining insight, or think I am, about all the different reasons why a swing state is in that category.

I am envious of your opportunity and drive to get this done. But most of all, grateful.