Common Ground Conversations: Access is a Problem


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Now to our continuing series on the political landscape in America.

Sometimes how we say things during political discussions is as important as what we say. 

“Today, people when you look at them, they don’t look each other in the eye,” Don Patterson, Republican focus group member, said. “Everybody’s looking somewhere else. Thinking about something else, and when you say.”   

Good communication is the basis of happy relationships, but is the same true for our politics? We set out to answer this question, which led to another.

Ever wonder how Republicans and Democrats might act if they sat down and chatted about politics? We did, and we brought together a group of six to discuss what it means to have political differences while living as a community.

The six formed our KOLR10 Common Ground focus group. 

All agreed that access is a problem.

“They need to make it easier for you to actually talk to the politicians because most people don’t even have a clue about to get in touch with them.”

And that people aren’t as informed as they should be.

“There are so many people that don’t have a clue what’s going on, and the community really needs to jump in and find out a lot more about it,” Scott Estes, Republican focus group member, said.

This is why politicians should hold more town hall-style meetings.

“Town hall meetings are a great way for them to be able to communicate with the public and be able to answer questions,” Wes Zongker, Democrat focus group member, said.

And when you get down to it, there’s more info out there than ever before. 

“Politics is more local today than it’s ever been in history,” Royce Reding, Republican focus group member, said. “With the 24-hour news cycle, with social media, with things at people’s fingertips instantaneously, it’s local immediately.” 
Of course, these are folks on different sides of the political aisle. Royce works for Congressman Billy Long, and the perception seems to be that the two sides don’t show the effort reaching out.

“At least two of you, we’ve met each other.”

“But that was our group reaching out, sure, you know, we felt like we had to do it in the form, not I wouldn’t say protest, but it actually, you felt like it was a protest I’m sure. We were nice, we’re friendly. We’re respectful always,” Lanae Gillespie, Democrat focus group member, said.

Protesting while showing respect reflects our humanity and status as Ozarks neighbors, and it goes a long way to finding common ground when we can.

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