What is a Kansas Democrat/Republican?
Driving an old car around the country can be challenging. During the middle of a drive the other day, one of our windshield wipers suddenly snapped off. As I bought a replacement, I struck up a conversation with a man who was in need of battery repair and asked him if he'd be interested in sharing his thoughts on politics and issues of interest. Here are excerpts from my interview with 49-year-old Dennis Reed, a Kmart forklift driver who lives in Lawrence, Kansas.
Tell me about the area and how it's changed over the years.
We've lived there 10 years and it's a college town, so every year it seems like there are more college kids coming in. The congestion is like everywhere else. It's gotten a lot worse. The enrollment is up 10,000 since 1995. That's quite a difference.
How is the economy and the job market there?
It's expensive. There are five factories, so there's quite a few jobs for people who live there, but the college kids mostly go to fast food places.
How long have you been a forklift operator?
Almost 20 years.
Do you like your job?
Yeah, I do.
Does it pay the bills? Do you have health insurance?
Yeah, it pays the bills and the company provides health insurance, but of course, you have to pay for it. Of course, all health insurance is expensive.
How does Lawrence tend to lean politically?
It's mostly Republican. There's quite a few gay people living people there and quite a few mixed couples living there.
That's pretty common for a college town.
Yeah, pretty much so.
Is that new? Was it common to see gay couples, say 10 years ago?
It may have been common, but you didn't see it as much as you do.
How do people feel about it?
I guess they feel pretty good because they just allowed a Republican gay group to establish a place there.
How do you feel about it?
Biblically speaking, I don't think it's right and morally it ain't right, but I don't have to live with them. As long as they stay on their side of the fence. I guess there's nothing we can do about it. You're gonna be with whoever you want to be with and that's the bottom line, whether it's the way god wants it to be or not.
Are you a Republican?
No, I'm Democrat. I'm too poor to be a Republican if that's what Republican and Democrat mean. I don't even know.
So why are you a Democrat?
That's what my father was and that's the only thing I've ever known I guess. I've never really looked into it cause politics really wasn't the thing that interested me.
Do you vote?
Yeah, I did vote for the last couple presidents. The first time I voted was for Carter. That depends on who's running because I wouldn't have voted for Kerry even though he was Democrat. He couldn't say the same sentence twice. It was pretty evident with everybody.
So you voted for Bush?
Do you like him?
He's OK, I guess. That's all I can say. Him being the way he is and his dad the way he is. They have all the money in the world so they don't really care about nothing but protecting their money. You can tell by the way he acts over in Iraq and towards the people in Saudi Arabia. He's got friends over there and big interests over there.
What do you think of the war?
It's like all wars. I don't think it'll stop soon. One dictator's as bad as another.
What do you want to hear about in the next election?
Mostly the economy and social security. Stuff that's gonna impact us in the next 10 years.