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Perspective: What I learned from the election

As I record this, the mid-term elections are over, the winners declared and those who lost are quietly considering their next step.

The texting, phone calls, disruptive mailings, strangers knocking on your door, the interference into your everyday life is suspended, for about a minute. Shortly, the 2024 electioneering will begin. I am not sure I can bear it.

I ran a small campaign for McHenry County Board. Though I wanted to win, no matter what the numbers say election night, I win. I have knocked on hundreds of doors, talked to scads of people and reached out to local leaders. I learned so much from the people in my district. I was careful to promise nothing, only that I would work on their behalf, to do my best.

I learned this: People are frustrated. Despairing of broken relationships in and out of their families. The hateful mean-spirited discourse has corrupted their joy. Working families are living on the edge. For many, housing costs exceed 30%, creeping closer to 50% of income. 1 in 4 Americans have medical debt over $1000. Working families are one car repair from disaster. Families spend their time simply trying to navigate the high cost of housing, feeding their families, getting from one day to the next.

My work with NPR/Perspectives was suspended while I was in the campaign – well, I’m back. This morning when my feet hit the floor, the devil said, “Uh oh, she’s awake.” You bet, I’m ready to roll up my sleeves, get my hands dirty and dive into the struggle – again.

Lou Ness has been working in service to people for decades. She has headed church-based programs in Rockford and served as Director of the Rockford Police Chaplains Program. She was an early pioneer in the domestic violence community.