Politics is always a contact sport in the United States: Spirited debate, negative ads, sometimes wild accusations. They are all par for the course.
But as we turn the corner over the next month and Election Day can be seen in the not-so-far off distance, the debate will undoubtedly turn to yelling, the negative ads to outright falsehoods and the accusations to virtual fist fights between the two major party candidates.
The real casualties in this political war end up being people; normal, every day people who live and work and love in cities and towns all across the United States. Their stories - who they are, what they believe in and how they want the nation to go forward - get lost in the haze that descends on the nation during a presidential election year.
And it's a shame, because those stories are the ones that should be told and listened to over and over. We need to listen to each other, and it's hard to do that when the mass media is constantly focused on the latest gaffe or the sexiest mistake. Americans' stories often get pushed to the back burner in news coverage, if they are covered at all.
Elections are about ideas and hopes and opinions of those who the election is really about: People.
I can't travel to all 50 states, so I will focus on the so-called "Swing States," those that have an electorate that, according to polling data, are equally divided. They are the places where this incredibly important presidential election will be decided, microcosms of the nation as whole, a country more polarized than at any time since the Civil War - or so we're told.
From sometime in mid to late August to early November, I will travel from west to east, through Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.
Some states might become swing states in the coming months, and slight adjustments in the trip might have to be made.
In these states, I will talk to people of all stripes and political persuasions, asking them about their lives, their hopes and what we need to do differently to tackle the big challenges that we need to face to grow and prosper. Is the American Dream still alive? Are we really as polarized as what we're told we are? Or do we share much more than we have differences about? I want to know what these yet-to-be-met people think.
The fireman and the rancher, the lawyer and the waitress, the farmer and the teacher and anyone else who will talk to me. All will be given a voice.
Stories - in written, video and audio forms - will be updated on the project's Website, www.swingstatestories.com. It is currently under construction but will be up and running prior to taking off.
Find out more, too, by visiting the project's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/SwingStateStories.
I will be living and working out of my vehicle during this project. Bare-bones and grassroots. This is not a partisan endeavor. I am a professional, experienced journalist, and I take being un-biased seriously.
The focus is on gathering and producing meaningful stories from a diverse swath of people in the states that will decide who the next president will be, real, honest stories about those we share a nation with, unfettered by the "noise" of the controversy-driven mass media.
I'd like to be the resource that cuts through that noise, and your support will help me to complete a project that does just that.
The cost that I'm asking your generous support for breaks down as follows:
Video camera: $250.
PB&J's are on the menu.
- (30 days)