This primary campaign isn’t my first rodeo. I supported JFK in 1960; worked for civil rights; and participated in many local, county, state and national campaigns. And, yes, I’m an out-of-stater who’s come to Keene to campaign for my preferred candidate for president.

But I’m not writing to promote my candidate. I’d just like to share my “Keene experience” of canvassing door-to-door. My job is to discern voters’ primary choices; understand their major issues; and to carefully hear their concerns, hopes and fears. Then, I ask permission to share my candidate’s positions on those issues.

While a few folks dismissed me abruptly, most everyone has extended grace and hospitality to the unknown person at their door. In the past, people accepted the literature; that’s all. This year, large numbers of Keene residents opened their homes — seeking clarity on positions and November electability. About 25-30 percent of voters have firmly chosen their candidate. But, unlike other campaigns I’ve worked on, most say they’ve narrowed their choices but remain undecided.

I hear voters voice health care as their primary issue. And while there’s Democratic unanimity that America shouldn’t be the world’s only industrialized nation that doesn’t provide citizens easy access to quality, affordable health care, the question is, “How?” Some prefer the Medicare For All model that eliminates private insurance. Others support the “Medicare for all who want it” model that allows free choice: keep your private coverage or have guaranteed access to a government-supported health care option. What impresses me even more than local residents’ high degree of civic engagement is their cordial embrace of respectful discussion.

And other candidates’ representatives have resoundingly taught me that the “received wisdom” of the Democratic primary as a combat between irreconcilable forces is a false narrative. The truth as I see it every day is that there’s a collegiality on Keene’s streets to an extent I’ve never observed before — even between canvassers working for different candidates. I’ve seen canvassers for “X” pick up a brochure for candidate “Z” and replace it at the doorway from which it blew away. While working hard for our respective candidates, we’re able to agree that if our candidate fails, we’ll limit our regrets to a day — and get on with the task of rallying our supporters behind the eventual nominee.

So, thank you Keene. Thank you for being a citizenry that wants to make informed decisions.

Respectfully,

MATTHEW SHULMAN

15 Valley Road

Groton, Conn.