American elections aren't overly interesting to Gary Younge, editor-at-large for the Guardian, a British media outlet.
What is interesting to him, however, are the issues. The Black Lives Matter movement, LGBT issues, transgender studies, slut walks — the things that bring people together and incite passion.
Because money picks the candidates, he said — it isn't possible to run for president without millions of dollars — the people don't get as much of a say. So the people's issues, the things they care about, often don't come up enough.
That's why Younge wants to reflect the desires of the people of Muncie, the Middletown and the so-called typical city in America, in his series in the Guardian, "The view from Middletown." Ahead of the election, Younge is spending a few weeks in Muncie, talking to people and immersing himself in the community.
Younge's election coverage certainly isn't orthodox. He wants to shift the election coverage away from talking about who is ahead in the polls and who won each debate, or as he calls it, "the horse race."
"I think American politics is a lot richer than that," Younge said.
He's instead focusing on how the American society is evolving, especially as it relates to an extraordinary presidential election like this one.
It would be a lie, Younge said, to say his series has nothing to do with the election. But he's trying to draw out the bigger themes and, instead of writing about who's voting for each candidate, look more in depth about what's driving the votes.
"What I hope is that the coverage in the series uses the election to tell you something about America, rather than the other way around," Younge said.
A new installment in the series comes out twice a week, and Younge plans on nine total. So far, he's reported on voters' feelings, the view from Middletown and former Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders' voters.
Younge chose Muncie for the center of his series because of the rich research history Muncie has with Middletown. In the 1920s, two researchers designated Muncie for a case study on the typical American city, dubbing it "Middletown." He figured it would be a good location because there was already a body of knowledge on the city, and Delaware County has historically been a swing county. He also wanted somewhere that had voted for both republican candidate Donald Trump and Sanders, a not-too-common combination.
So Muncie it was.
Younge learned about the issues Muncie residents face — job shortages, heroin addiction and not-great wages — and has spent his time in the city talking to as many people as he can.
"I don't know if, when you look at the election, whether you hear a lot of those kind of ideas reflected," Younge said. "The election touches peoples lives in these very meme-ish, abstract kind of ways."
Younge will speak about his series on Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Bracken Libary 104.