It’s a busy Thursday morning at a diner in Leesburg, Virginia. I’ve assembled a small group of Loudoun County voters at a table in the back. There are retirees, small business owners, a lawyer. Some voted for President Obama, ome for Governor Romney, one voted Libertarian. Divided at the polls, they now share a common concern: How to unite the country, and get it back on track economically. Glenn Bayless, a retired teacher, says members of Congress should learn to get along.
“The obstructionism I think as a priority ought to stop," Bayless says, "and I think it’ll go a long way toward solving some of the issues with the economy.”
The foremost issue for Bayless and the others here is avoiding the fiscal cliff of tax hikes and budget cuts. My focus group consists mostly of swing voters and ticket splitters. Most of the Obama supporters here also voted to re-elect their local congressman, who’s a Republican. For the life of them, these voters can’t understand why the people they elect can’t reach across party lines. Our waitress, Miriam Nasuti, stops by with coffee refills, and an opinion about what President Obama should do now.
“Sometimes you have to have that late-night cocktail with the speaker," she says, "and people on the other side of the fence.”
But these voters are acutely aware that they elected the partisan politicians they’re now complaining about. Sergio Loya, a government contractor, who voted a straight party ticket is now doing some soul searching -- saying he’ll only vote for candidates who promise to compromise.
He says, “If they don’t, then in whatever period of time, two, four, six years, vote them out."
There are nods of agreement around the table, but local distillery owner Scott Harris says we should also change our behavior outside the voting booth.
He says, “It seems like lately Facebook before the election and now after, people are pretty nasty to each other and these are all of our close circle and friends, and it’s really polarizing us even more."
So friend your foes. Vote for peacemakers. And maybe, just maybe, Congress and the White House will get the message.
“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VABEFORE YOU GO