The small alcove overlooking the lobby of Case University's George Dively building was filled, as fourteen strangers gathered together, seated in a circle on couches and easy chairs, to discuss one of societies most controversial topics...Politics.
We were one of ten groups scattered around the building Saturday to participate in a type of social experiment sponsored by PBS and McNeil Lehrer. Cleveland was one of 18 cities to host these discussions, which will be broadcast both locally and nationally October 21st.
At the behest of Betsy Merkle from REI Weatherhead at Case, I was acting as moderator for the group as they voiced their opinions on national security, the war on terror, global economics, and personal income tax. The goal of the conversation was to frame several questions that we would like to ask a panel of experts in those particular fields of security, terrorism, global economics, and government, later that afternoon, as a part of a larger group discussion involving 120 randomly selected people from northeast Ohio.
My group was diverse. We were small business owners , students, retirees, accountants, teachers, technicians, executives, salesmen, and housewives. Democrats, Republicans, and independents.
The discussion was informed and enthusiastic. We were serious and we laughed. We were respectful of one another's opinions, yet felt free to voice friendly disagreement. The three hours in our small groups flew by, and by the end of the second session, everyone felt as if we had made some new friends.
It will be interesting to see the results of the final survey.