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Issues That Brought Me to the Polls: Max Hancock, Maryland

As told by Max Hancock
Frostburg, Maryland

Story Narrative:

Max has short cropped brown hair and a striped, button-down shirt.

This snapshot was gathered in conjunction with the Maryland Voices initiative at Maryland Humanities, specifically to supplement the "Voices and Votes: Democracy in America" traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian's Museum on Main Street program. This collection, made up of stories of first-time voters between the ages of 18 and 24, showcases the experiences of young people as they wrestled with the 2020 presidential election, issues around social justice, the environment, immigration, and the pandemic.

Max Hancock (00:00): Hi, my name is Max Hancock. I use he/him/his pronouns. I'm from the Annapolis region of Maryland but when I moved off to college, it was to Frostburg.

Max Hancock (00:14): One thing that has had me captivated since I first moved up to Frostburg is the way that people perceive verbal spaces. There is a lot of politics in rural areas that are often completely misconstrued by people in metropolitan areas. That I think lead to this really unfortunate misunderstanding of why small towns are the way they are. Let me gather my thoughts on this one.

Max Hancock (00:53): I think a big example is, an example that everyone can understand of this is, coal and mining. Frostburg is a former mining town and the Republican party is hugely supportive of extractive industry like that. But when you're someone my age, who goes driving through Frostburg on your way to Morgantown to go clubbing, you see all these Trump signs all over the place and you're like, this has got to be the worst city in Maryland. This has got to be the worst.

Max Hancock (01:28): And it's just these miscommunications, I think, are really unfortunate and really prevent groups of people between rural and metropolitan areas from coming together as the common enemies or to work for a common cause because at the end of the day, people have so much in common that isn't defined by where you grow up or what your parents did because we're our own people, regardless of how our environment has shaped us. So just casting aside the narratives of rural people, rural minorities especially, just because they don't fit in concept of how these people are supposed to act. I think it can be dangerous. I think it can be very dangerous.

Max Hancock (02:28): It seems like coronavirus is the number one issue that we have to deal with right now. But other times in history, other things have been that number one thing, that's right on the forefront. I've been learning about maladaptation recently in this really cool class I'm taking about religion and about how you have to define a successful culture by how fast it's deteriorating and by how fast people are sustaining injuries to their health and their wealth and their mental state. And it seems to me like the coronavirus is one example of a crisis leading to a country's, to the world's maladaptation.

Max Hancock (03:18): But it doesn't have to be like a health crisis for it to be an example of that. Like when people earlier in the year were protesting the deaths of unarmed black folk at the hands of police. I think that counts as an example of when a society is maladapting. It's like people are being injured and being hurt and being angry and being scared at such a high rate. You can't consider the society functional anymore. You have to figure out what's going wrong and how you can solve it before you can say that you're back on track. And I don't think that we have solved anything in those cases.

Max Hancock (04:13): And in the case of plenty of other little conflicts that we've had over my lifetime, which is really scary, because it sounds like our next presidents are going to come into office, they're going to say, okay, here's the issue number one. For Joe Biden, it's going to be fixing coronavirus. And then we're never going to get back to those other issues that led up to this big one, which is a pity because if that's the case, then we're never going to be a really sustainable society in terms of social equity and economic security and environmental protection. Maybe ever.

Asset ID: 2021.03.13.g
Themes: Rural, politics, urban, divide, small towns, coal, mining, political parties, miscommunication, division, community, commonality, COVID-19, protest, policing, Donald Trump, Joe Biden
Date recorded: January 29, 2021
Length of recording: 04:58 m
Related traveling exhibition: Voices and Votes: Democracy in America
Sponsor or affiliated organization: Allegany Museum, in partnership with Maryland Humanities
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