Episode 2. William Lea

What Voting Means To Me

13-04-2020 • 52 mins

In 2016, voters in the state of Michigan played a decisive role in determining the outcome of the presidential election in the United States. Winning by a tiny margin of about 0.23%, Donald Trump’s upset victory was a shock to the Democratic political establishment who had long thought of Michigan as a part of the “blue wall” Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton could count on come election night November 8, 2016. Our episode today takes us back to the state of Michigan, as William (Will) Lea, a choir teacher and musician, reflects on his time growing up in Shiawassee County, a conservative leaning jurisdiction that tilted substantively in Trump’s favor on Election night in 2016. Hailing from this oft-battleground state, Will makes for a fascinating first official entry in “What Voting Means To Me.” He tells us about his experience growing up in Owosso, a former bedroom community for workers at the automobile factories in Flint. He speaks about his politically engaged grandparents and parents who grew up in nearby Montrose, and talks about the evolution of his identity from an all American boy with dreams of becoming a politician, to the humble, hardworking, talented musician and teacher he is today. We discuss his very first vote—for John Kerry in 2004—and how he pushed forward with voting and political engagement after experiencing what he describes as shock over the defeat of his candidate. We talk about ballot design, voting for judges, engaging in discussion with folks who disagree with you, and what it means to establish your convictions as you age. And in the end we get a picture of what democracy—and voting—means to Will.

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