This week, 88.5 knkx begins an election series called "Voices from Here," featuring conversations with five different people who live in the Puget Sound area. They'll talk about their concerns and hopes as we head toward the presidential election on Nov. 8.
Before we hear those conversations, we spent a moment with David Domke, professor of political communication at the University of Washington.
Washington state is reliably blue on the presidential election map, and it’s the huge population of left-leaning voters in the Seattle metro area who make it that way.
True, but simple. This state has 4.2 million registered voters, and the real picture of their politics – their hopes, fears, interests, dislikes, and wants – is far more complicated.
“It’s a puzzle,” said David Domke, professor of political communication at the University of Washington. “There are a lot of different pieces to it.”
Domke has spent years researching U.S. politics and the way people discuss U.S. politics. Seattle has one of the most liberal voting populations in the country. But outside Seattle, it’s a patchwork of opinions about taxes, guns, agriculture and more. And, he says, there are some common values.
“There is a truism in American politics that the deeper you go in terms of values and identity, the more common ground you have,” he said. “Everybody wants security, everybody wants for their kids a better life than they have for themselves.”
And when Domke says “security,” he means both physical security and economic security – a vision of a hopeful future.
“Anybody who’s an adult wants both of those,” he said. “How we get there, though, begins to be where we divide and disagree.”
Over the next week, knkx will talk to voters from a variety of walks of life, with differing issues and concerns ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election. Domke spends a lot of time listening to people talk about their views, and we asked him how he approaches those conversations.
“After we talk to them a little bit, we say, ‘What is this issue really about?’” he said. “They might be talking about education … but it’s really about a better life for their kids, or their child being able to get a job. I’m always interested in those deeper questions. We’re divided at one level, but as a country there’s tremendous unity around … those ideals that call to us.”
Domke says he tries to follow the example of civil rights leader Bernard Lafayette – to listen so that he’s changed.
“I’m not just listening to you so I can figure out what I’m going to say back to you,” he said. “I’m listening so I can deeply hear your heart and your mind, and ultimately I’ll be changed when I do that, and you, knowing or believing that I’m doing that, will also be changed.”
That doesn’t mean we want these conversations to change your mind, of course. But we do hope the stories in this series help you see through the eyes of the voters around you, even – and maybe especially – if you disagree.