I drove the two hours this morning down to the town of Bluffton. Before a couple weeks ago I'd never gotten off the main drag that leads to Hilton Head Island and actually seen "downtown" Bluffton. It's been here since a bit before the Civil War, and as the name suggests, it's on a bluff above the May River. Bluffton, like Beaufort, both more than twenty feet above the current high-tide line, will be habitable long after Charleston is underwater in the coming decades. You may need a boat to get here because all the roads leading in are lower, some just a foot above today's high-tide line, but people might still be living here in a hundred years as the seas rise. (Ya, that's how I see everywhere I go, from the future.)
Bluffton's newly created downtown area is a few blocks up from the river landing at the south end of Calhoun street. Someone has been making a big investment over the past few years with lots of new buildings all built in an interesting common style that harkens back to earlier eras. A lot of corrugated steel, old wood, and overhanging roofs. I'm sure someone will tell me the name of the style, but it reminds me of the old tobacco leaf drying sheds scattered around coastal Carolina - airy and welcoming. Maybe just a bit too Disney for my tastes. But I suppose not every community can be a hundred years old.
Part of the reason I enjoy coming down here is the two hour drive down and back that gives me quiet time to think that I don't get the rest of my typical days. As one of my previous blogs from 2014 says, I think that opportunity to think is what's missing from the lives of so many Americans. I'd like to help make an America in which we all had more quiet time to think.
In fact that's what I was thinking about on the drive down this morning - how do I sum up what I'm trying to accomplish by running for Congress?
Last night I was editing a new version of the "CHERNY for Congress" calling card and tried out a new idea about "helping Americans be happier". With all the fear people have about losing their jobs, their houses, their health, etc., I thought maybe "happiness" is the end goal when we fix all the economic problems that are creating these fears. This morning that didn't seem quite right as I discussed it with my campaign manager. She offhandedly asked "why do people vote?", which started me down today's quest. Everywhere I've gone today I've asked people "Do you vote?" and then "why or why not?".
So far, the non-voters I've met said it's because they don't know enough about the issues to make an informed decision - just a couple of young women. All the voters have responded with a variety of answers that when I probe further all boil down to "I vote to try to make things better for the future". Of course, that better future some people describe is comprised of key points I don't agree with - too exclusionary for my sensibilities - if it won't work for ALL of us, I'm not interested. But I think that less-than-ideal future some people describe is created from a position of fear that breeds hate and blames the wrong people for creating the conditions that spawned that fear.
I'm tempted to spend a few hours on King Street in Charleston this Sunday afternoon asking the same question, wearing sandwich board signs. I think we're ALL shooting for a better future that includes most of the same major components. We're mostly in disagreement about how to get there.