Given the results of the Nov. 8 election both in Wisconsin and around the country, it’s clear that this is no longer the political climate that put Bill Clinton, Barack Obama or anyone named Bush into office.
And, for those of us who passively got a little caught up in all the fun social media had to offer in terms of confirmation bias, it seems it’s time to grow up a bit to allow future elections to run more smoothly.
Being a panelist at one of the Main Street Agenda town hall meetings served an important purpose for me: It made me realize that the world is not nicely ordered into fans of Fox News or fans of MSNBC exclusively. Not everyone is seeking shelter in an echo chamber and many people are looking for evidence and data to drive their voting decisions.
At the Pewaukee town hall, panelists, moderators and audience members all were engaged and curious. To be sure, all had their biases, but as various individuals spoke, it was easy to see “aha” moments flooding over some folks’ faces. This is a good sign of things to come.
Going forward, an entirely new generation is beginning to make its mark. Political offices are now starting to be filled with people who came of age at the turn of the millennium. The intermingling of “boomer” priorities and attitudes with those who’ve come after is shaking the foundation of politics and policy, whether in Congress or on the local school board.
Our takeaway needs to be this:
Listen. Think. Seek out a wide variety of sources.
Regardless of the age, or color or gender of the person with whom you’re interacting, that individual’s mindset, and their vote, is very much up for grabs.
People are out there looking for what’s best for our country, as evidenced by the success of the Main Street Agenda town hall meetings. It’s moral vanity to think that someone who disagrees with you is wrong.
Make your opinions known, but continue to stay open to why others hold viewpoints different from your own.
Carole Henning of Waukesha taught taught English, speech, theatre and journalism at the high school level and education at the collegiate level.
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Citizen panelists reflect on experience of Main Street Agenda