A United America

Sophia Cochrane was a journalist who wrote stories about people. She had the ability to get people to open up to her in a way that few journalists could. It was for this reason that her editor assigned her to spend a week in Juliette County, one of the most politically divided places in America. Juliette County was thought to be a microcosm of what is dividing America and Sophia was asked to discover what life was like in this divided county. Her story follows.

I was sent to Juliette County to see what it was like to live in one of the most divided counties in America. What I found was vastly different than what I expected.

Juliette is a diverse county with respect to race. It was a vibrant immigrant population. It has both a strong religious structure and a welcoming culture. Voter registrations are divided almost equally among Republicans, Democrats, and    Independents.

What made the county unique in my experience was the porches on houses. Unlike other communities where porches have virtually disappeared, in Juliette virtually every home had an inviting front porch. That’s where I got to know the people of Juliette.

The porches were neighborhood meeting places where conversations took place. I was invited onto the porches. What I found interesting was none of the conversations were about the hot topics of the day as found on news channels. Instead, the conversations were about daily life. When I tried to nudge the conversation to a national issue, I got no response.

I began to realize that Juliette was not as divided as portrayed. The neighborhoods were blending cultures. There were no enclaves of race,   ethnicity, or other human identities. There was an acceptance of diversity that I hadn’t expected.

I started to explore why Juliette was thought to be so divided. What I found was disturbing. We have begun to identify community divisiveness with who we elect to public office. That’s a false definition.

Juliette and its surrounding counties have selected a Congressman largely on a non-partisan basis. They are represented by a Congressman who has placed constituent issues above national political hot buttons. Attempts to unseat him by outside money have been unsuccessful because everyone in his district can share a story of how he helped them.

For Senate and Presidential elections, Juliette has swung its votes between the national parties. But when you look at the vote totals, there were more people who opted not to vote for any candidate than people who voted for the eventual winner. The voters of Juliette have a disdain for the candidates chosen by the national parties.

When I returned home from Juliette, I had hope for America. Maybe the rest of the country is more like Juliette County than I thought. The divisiveness seems to be more among the political parties than the people. The politics of fear-mongering and grievance used by both parties and their puppet candidates are where our national divide is, not our people.

Just imagine how different our national landscape would be if we had leadership focused on the needs of our citizens rather than issues designed to create false narratives of our nation’s future.

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“Any politician who can be elected only by turning Americans against other Americans is too dangerous to be elected.” – Thomas Sowell (political commentator)  

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