Five Questions of Curiosity for Partisan Times

November 3rd, 2020 was “Election Day” in the United States. It’s the first Tuesday of November every year. This year was unique in that the Presidency was up for election, something that happens every four years on that first Tuesday. Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

To say that the Election is only on a day is grossly misnamed. The campaigning starts two years prior. Arguably, from the day of taking office. The political spin runs well after the election and has become a way of life in political reporting. I find the vitriol of it to be exhausting, demeaning, and discouraging.

In this years election, Biden / Harris won majority of seats and the popular vote by about 7 million votes. This means that a new presidency is now in the process of taking office, with term to officially begin in January 2021.

Though the shift is taking place, what remains is highly partisan citizenship. It is signs and placards in yards of personal homes. It is flags waving. It is families and friends that can no longer explore politics without descending to deep divisiveness, resent, and even fisticuffs.

Unwilling to default to the further divisions and exhaustion, I count on curiosity and a few questions to help create bridges. As much as I’d like to move much of this partisan mindset to integrative resolution, sometimes the best we hope for is to stop the bleeding. To interrupt the harm.

I’ve been asking five general questions to restore some curiosity. It’s really the same question with five different nuances. I ask these with genuine curiosity. Not with desire for argument. Mostly with desire for witness. For added understanding against a backdrop of shared humanness.

What is is that you want(ed) from this election?
Is it a value?
A way of being?
A party?
A policy?
A personality?

And then of course, to ask for some of the why that goes with this.

These conversations are not a test. Not courtroom drama to object to. They are about laying some foundation to begin again. These conversations are not about winning. They are not about forcing a right or a wrong. They are not about shaming. They are not about embarrassing self or other. They are about the discipline of listening. They are about the skill of practicing wonder. About reclaiming an ability to find ourselves in the story of another. They are about exploring difference with respect. They are about exercising a choice to turn to one another, even in difference, rather than calcifying a pattern of turning away with disregarding habit.

So, I carry on. With my questions. With my heart still leading the way on most days. Perhaps, when needed, these little categories questions might help you in the harm you reduce, the bridges you create, or perhaps in a vote of significance, to elect ourselves to platforms of engagement, wonder, and witness.

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