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One Small Step is an effort to reconnect Americans, one conversation at a time.

One Small Step: Two nonpartisan voters explore their economic and political values

A composition with two screenshots side-by-side of a man and a woman sitting in their homes while looking forward and smiling. A logo is placed above their photos that says “StoryCorps One Small Step.”
Maria Palma, Crystal Willis
KUNR Public Radio
Adrian Paul (left) and Faith Machuca participate in a One Small Step conversation virtually on Dec. 3, 2021.

Heading into the general election in November, KUNR is sharing local conversations from its One Small Step program, which connected people with different political values through dialogue.

Reno/Sparks residents Adrian Paul, 57, and Faith Machuca, 24, met during a One Small Step conversation. While they are both nonpartisan voters, Adrian is more economically conservative than Faith. Together, they explored their views on government spending and how frustration with unmet campaign promises can lead to apathy.

Faith Machuca: So Adrian, what made you want to do this interview today?

Adrian Paul: The program sounded really interesting. When I was younger, I worked on a program for the U.S. White House that was called Community Conversations. And that was surrounding Y2K, back when it was believed that the world might end because of a computer bug. So I worked on a program that tried to get people to talk about different things, and for me, that was a really cool experience.

What made you want to do this interview today, Faith?

Faith: I actually really like talking to people with different perspectives and opinions, so I thought it’d be a good time.

Adrian: So, could you briefly describe, in your own words, your personal political values, social and economic, and what shaped them?

Faith: I identify as nonpartisan, and I take each election as it comes, but I do have things that I care about: I do support universal health care. I support social safety nets.

I don’t necessarily like that you can do everything right in life and save and just do it all and then get cancer and go bankrupt. I can’t support that. So I would say universal health care is probably my biggest, most passionate topic.

Adrian: I’ve been a registered independent for at least 15 years. I am financially very conservative. So I like the idea of the government saving and being careful with money, as opposed to blowing it and living in debt; I don’t think that’s helping any of us.

I loved your closing statement that you wish for, or it’s important to you, that there’s a social net, safety net for people. I could not agree more, and I also support universal health care.

Faith: I’m really interested in... you’re economically conservative. Do you think that the government is just spending too much money hands down, or do you think they should be spending the money that they have differently?

Adrian: Yes, I think they should be spending the money that they have differently. I think that both sides of the table, Democrat and Republican, are too beholden to lobbyists, so they’re not making policy choices that are best for citizens; they’re making policy choices that are best for their own campaign.

Faith: Yeah. Yeah, I hear you. I would definitely agree. When it comes to politics in general, I really struggle because, throughout most of my, at least, adult life, it kind of seems that nothing really changes, whether there’s a Democrat or Republican in the office, at least when it comes to my life and what affects it.

With this whole last presidency, there was this huge push to just get Donald Trump out of office and stuff, but now that we have a new president, none of his promises have been fulfilled. And so, it’s kind of made me a little burnt out, honestly. I was a lot more involved politically during the 2020 election, and I would say now, I’m just a little apathetic about it.

It’s really unfortunate to say, but I genuinely think that no matter who’s in office, they’re not really looking out for the people anymore; they’re looking out for the corporations that are giving them money.

Adrian: Yeah, that are lobbying them directly. I basically agree. I voted for Biden because I detest Donald Trump, but I wasn’t happy with that vote at all, at all, at all. And yeah, I agree, we don’t have a great choice; we need better choices.

Because I have nephews and nieces that are closer to your age than my own, that’s my greatest concern. I have nephews and nieces that have kids, and I think, “What planet are we leaving them?” I’m so, so worried about it. It’s really... it is something that gives me nightmares and keeps me up late thinking. And that’s absolutely where the government can do better.

Faith: Is there anything you learned about me today that surprised you?

Adrian: I guess what surprised me, but I had a feeling of it because I read your bio and I thought, “Wow, the choices you’ve made, there are a lot of things that I can relate to,” I thought, “Oh, I’m probably gonna like this person,” and that has proven to be true.

Faith: Oh, I’m really glad to hear that. I can’t help but say the same. Yeah, I was a little bit nervous going into it because I knew you were an older person who potentially had more conservative values and stuff like that. Not that that’s something that would upset me or anything, but I was just prepared for a little bit more of a combative argument, I guess. But it turns out we agree on quite a few things. And no, I’m really thankful to have met you. I’d love to meet up in Reno sometime.

Adrian: Same. Thank you for this opportunity.

This conversation was facilitated by María Palma and produced by Carly Sauvageau and Natalie Van Hoozer. KUNR and Noticiero Móvils work with StoryCorps on One Small Step is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. Nevada Humanities was a key community partner for this program.

Carly is an intern for The Nevada Independent. She lives and works in Reno but grew up in Tonopah. Because of her experience growing up in a rural community, she is passionate about the effects of local media coverage on rural communities as well as representation of communities not usually covered in the news.
Natalie is a freelance journalist and translator based in Reno, Nevada, who reports in English and Spanish. She also works for the nonprofit SembraMedia, supporting independent, digital Spanish-language media in the United States.
Maria joined KUNR Public Radio in December 2022 as a staff reporter. She is interested in stories about underserved communities, immigration, arts and culture, entertainment, education and health.
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