The Moral Economy
What I've learned most in my time canvassing is that my community is more diverse than I gave it credit for which is both inspiring and thought provoking. I am realizing that I don't like telling people who to vote for at all. In fact, I started knocking on doors as an independent journalist rather than a Democrat. This has annoyed the base that I campaign for, but as a volunteer, I feel that my duty is not to tell people who to vote for but rather to tell people to vote and that there is a vote happening. To be clear, I grew up in a moderately conservative household, swung left quite in college, and I am now trying to find a centered equilibrium. Ideally, I will find a political biorhythm that is consistent, honest and fair
Listening, I believe, will bring about this. We as a nation are not listening. Our ears are blocked. Channels of communication have been severed. My senator introduced an amendment that would limit the executive branch's ability to create new tariffs without congressional approval. Unfortunately, the amendment was blocked from even being voted on. 14 senators proposed that amendment. Is that not enough? 14 senators in my mind is like seven states, seven entire states saying, "hey we see a problem and are offering a solution." Our leaders are not willing to listen to each other. Steel is a big industry in my state, and I've talked to plenty of steel workers who want better trade deals but are suffering because of tariffs. Without checks, the balance of power is off and more often than not it hurts everyday folk the most. If we can't count on our leaders to even vote, what is the point of electing them? Is that not their job?
I want to talk about two people I've met. Daniel, a father of two and a small business owner and Mama P (Patty). Daniel says he will vote solely based on the economy. He has voted both red and blue. In fact he plans to vote for Trump again as long as the economy keeps climbing, but he also plans to vote on Phil Bredesen, the Democrat running for Senate in Tennessee. Bredesen brought Tennessee out of an economic slump during his time as governor in the 2000s, and many citizens acknowledge him for that. Mama P houses people at risk of meth addiction as well as addicts trying to get clean. She votes based on three factors: God, family, country. She said that she will vote for a candidate that she believes epitomizes those qualities. She also is very proud of her identity as a Cherokee white Appalachian. I asked her if she believed that the president fit her standards because she was quite the supporter. She honestly said no, she didn't believe that he was a holy man but she said that he looks like he is trying to find his way. I asked her about her thoughts on the oil dig that is crossing reservations in the Dakotas. She said it wasn't her tribe and that it was good for the economy.
I have been reading a book called the Moral Economy. It argues that the structure of America bases its values on economic lines. If money flows, things are good, if it doesn't, things are bad. The thing is, if our values are anchored in money, then we lose track of peace and happiness. Sounds corny. When we are antennas searching for cash, it's easy to forget about the people around us. In Daniel and Mama P's neighborhood, the city of East Ridge is trying to pass a redevelopment plan that will tear down their homes for new roads and plazas. A lot of those people have lived there their whole lives. Neighborhood organizations have rallied to stop the plans, they've distributed letters with the names of every supporter of the redevelopment. I am trying to see things on both sides. On one hand, many of those homes are very old and ridden with drugs and pests. It isn't the cleanest part of town. On the other, there isn't much to offer the people who the city plans to displace. Redevelopment could bring a lot of money into the city, but at what cost? This issue, as many more in our country, is anchored in costs and benefits.
I don't really know where I'm going with all this. I'm just writing to write. This is for sure not my best post, but I'll keep at it.