Ohio residents discover widespread floor with a need for unity, information, sports activities, jobs
Ohioans are exhausted in the final run-up to the 2020 presidential election.
They are concerned about COVID-19, where the United States is going, the vote, the mechanisms of how it will work – or not – and who will ultimately win.
Most avoid any face-to-face political conflict outside of their pandemic of friends, people who pretty much agree with them anyway.
And all the while they say that they are drowning in an unending barrage of news.
“I want to have a peaceful, drama-free nation 365 days a year. I’m sick of it, ”said Sheilah Smith of northeast Ohio during a series of regional talks with Your Voice Ohio, a project that allows journalists to overhear the conversations of voters across the state of Buckeye.
The goal of this series of five YVO meetings held over the first full week of October via Zoom was to find out how Ohioans believe we can move forward after the election, regardless of who is president. YVO has compiled a series of stories starting today to help Ohioans better understand each other in this shared moment.
A total of 20 voters met in five smaller groups – from two to five people – who represented where they live: Central, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest Ohio. The ages of voters involved ranged from a 22-year-old first-time voter from central Ohio who was a month too young to vote in 2016, to an 82-year-old southwest Ohio man who still remembers his pride in me felt like he was casting his first vote in 1956 when incumbent President Dwight D. Eisenhower defeated Adlai Stevenson.
Most seemed to have made up their minds and voted for Donald Trump or Joe Biden. But there were also some undecided voters, including a woman from southwest Ohio who voted for Barack Obama before switching sides and voting for Trump in 2016. The groups also included a staunch libertarian and a man who said he and many of his friends probably wouldn’t. Don’t vote because you’ve never seen a president affect the problems in your daily life.
There was no fighting or harsh words during the five two-hour virtual meetings.
Often times, voters sought and found common ground in everything from business to what they hope for after the elections when the real work begins.
Unity is what voters most longed for.
They want evil fights and arguments among politicians – and among themselves – to stop.
“Everyone should treat others as they would like to be treated,” said Jinnifer Trubey from Toledo. “It should start with the leader of the free world, and it should pour down.”
They also want the economy to recover with well-paying jobs, but recognize that there is a large, dangerous, and unpredictable obstacle standing in the way: COVID-19.
The virus has already infected more than 8 million Americans, leaving 220,000 dead on Wednesday. Until the pandemic can be tamed or better managed, voters fear that little else can be achieved.
“I’m a conservative too, but just the opposite of what a conservative should be (in) the pandemic,” said Faith Williams, who lives in northeast Ohio.
Williams said “it felt like states were competing against each other,” which is preventing the US from weathering the crisis as well as other countries.
“Everyone has to be on the same page,” she said.
But whatever happens at the national level, many Ohio voters want to find ways to get together. Some have lost friends because of political disagreements or avoided speaking to friends and family members who disagree with them because they know it could lead to a fight.
“Hopefully it will be easier to have conversations when the country’s temperature drops,” said Cheryl Gordon of southeast Ohio.
Two voters – Michelle MacCutcheon from southwest Ohio and Mikel Grenier from northwest Ohio – offered their experiences that spanned the political and social abysses.
It can start with a common goal and respect, they said.
“I can find common ground with anyone except trolls,” said MacCutcheon, a former volunteer coordinator for the Ohio Libertarian Party.
MacCutcheon said she knows her presidential candidate, Jo Jorgensen, will lose and looks forward to building new alliances to get what she wants.
“I’ve already reached out to the Greens near me to meet me,” she said. “Reform of the criminal justice system. No bailouts or subsidies. We can instantly connect with them and move forward. “
Grenier, a church receptionist, hesitated for a long time to engage in political conversation, but makes greater use of life lessons learned as a member of the LGBTQ community.
“I’m working with someone who doesn’t believe in exactly the same subjects as I do,” said Grenier. “I go to great lengths to make sure they know that their opinion is as important as mine.
“We may not agree,” said Grenier, “but I still love you as a person.”
Ray Chorey, who lives in southwest Ohio, said that an old tenet of leadership may apply to rebuilding bridges between people who disagree: you should try to understand in order to be understood.
“Take the first step and tell me where you are from and tell me why you believe what you believe,” he said.
People who come from different directions may not yet agree on some points, but they may agree on others, he said.
Amanda Garrett can be emailed to [email protected].
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