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Voter Voices: "You're never going to have the perfect candidate. Never."

Leslie Emerson and Jason Lanham
Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio
Leslie Emerson and Jason Lanham

A lot has changed since the last presidential election. In our series Voter Voices, we're asking Michiganders how they are thinking about this year's election.

Leslie Emerson and her boyfriend Jason Lanham disagreed about who to vote for in 2016. She went for Hillary Clinton, he went for Donald Trump. This time around, they both agree on Joe Biden.

But that’s not the only thing that’s shifted for them in the past year. COVID-19 has drastically changed work for both of them. Lanham works in pest control and Emerson is a nurse at Beaumont hospital.

On the impact of the pandemic

Leslie: "When COVID was coming - we knew it was coming - they kind of told us, 'you're the designated COVID unit. The patients will start coming to you.' And it started with two patients, then six, then ten. Then it took over our whole floor — we’re a 45 bed unit. And then it just spread over the whole hospital.

Voter Voices

The hallways looked like a war zone. There were people everywhere. It was kind of controlled chaos, I guess would be the best way to describe it.

We never ran out of PPE, but we were reusing a lot of PPE. So that was a little daunting because nobody really knew what we were up against.

You just went to work and did your job, did as best you could with what you had. And hopefully didn't get sick."

Jason: "I work in commercial pest control, so a lot of my customers just went under. They closed completely. They’re done.

Every building I go into, you know, and I serviced gas stations, party stores. These places are filthy. You know, and I’m just thinking, 'Don't touch anything.' I just do the best I can to be safe - gloves, masks, you know."

Leslie: "The thought of me picking it up at work was my bigger concern, of getting someone else sick."

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On voting in 2016, and 2020

Jason: "We were introduced by some mutual friends. ...We just hit it off. We like to play Quizzo. We're big trivia nerds, too."

Leslie: "I think we were at Quizzo when he said it. And it [was] probably a good time to say it because, you know, we were distracted with the questions."

Jason: "I said, 'Well, I’ll just tell you right off of the rip: I did vote for Trump in 2016. I will not again. I never will."

Leslie: "I think I just said, 'OK, well, you know, I guess I'm glad you saw the light.'"

Jason: "And I took the bait like a lot of people did. 'Oh, a nonpolitician getting in office is going to change some things, you know, run the country like a business.' You know, empty promises. I kind of get to the point where, I don't want to say giving up, but almost to the point where it's like it doesn't matter. Like you're never going to have the perfect candidate. Never. You know, the two party system is detrimental to us moving forward as a society and Americans."

Leslie: "I want to just raise my kids in a world, a safe world, you know, a just world. And I feel like most everybody wants that. I don't know - I mean, even people that I disagree with fundamentally on a lot of things. I think their hope and dream for their kids is the same as mine. That picture probably looks a lot different. But I just, I think that if we could all just realize - it sounds probably hokey - but you know, that we all really are after the same thing. "

Jason: "I just wish people would just be more sympathetic and get along a little bit better and just treat each other like human beings. You know, we all put our pants on one leg at a time."

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Rachel Ishikawa joined Michigan Public in 2020 as a podcast producer. She produced Kids These Days, a limited-run series that launched in the summer of 2020.
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