Six minutes with Chris Runion: Republican, progressive talking to, not at, each other
Gotta give Chris Runion credit. He spent a good six minutes with me last night at the Rockingham County Fair talking local stuff.
Why is this significant?
People don’t do this kind of thing that often these days.
Runion, a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates, told me he is a regular reader of Augusta Free Press, our progressive-centric online news publication, “and I don’t agree with most of what you have to say,” he said, “but I love to learn different perspectives.”
We were both on the periphery of the phalanx of politicos and journos following Gov. Glenn Youngkin around the fairgrounds last night.
Runion was there as part of the welcoming party, so he had to keep an eye on the governor to make sure he didn’t get away.
I was just snapping photos, not even there, really, to cover the event.
My wife and niece had wanted to go to the Dustin Lynch concert. It just happened that the governor scheduled a visit coinciding.
Last night wasn’t the first time that Runion has told me that he’s a regular reader. He’s emailed me several times to that effect.
It was the first time we talked local politics in person.
Next thing he said ratcheted things up a level.
“What issues in the Valley are important to you?” he asked me.
The governor was still photo-opping a few feet away, so we started talking about the Augusta County Courthouse referendum, body cams for Augusta County sheriff’s deputies, pay for local law enforcement, sex trafficking.
A Republican lawmaker and a progressive news editor, just talking.
Not talking politics. No one-upsmanstuff about Trump or Biden, critical race theory, defunding the police or FBI.
Actual, substantive, important stuff.
I wasn’t trying to get a quote; he wasn’t trying to get a headline from AFP.
He wanted to know what I was thinking, and I was more than willing to share.
The world needs more of these type conversations.
There’s too much nonsense yelling, finger-pointing, assuming that folks on the other side are the enemy, as opposed to just being people who have different points of view on what’s important, and what we should do about it.
We can keep demonizing each other, but we can already see where that gets us.
We could try, like Chris Runion, to learn what people on the other side are thinking.
I may not agree with his politics, like he doesn’t agree with mine, but I’m a Chris Runion fan now.