Column: Elections are about what’s possible

A man crosses a street on a bicycle.
A cyclist rides his bike across East Lewis Street near a newly constructed bike path on the University of Louisiana's Lafayette campus. Photo by Alena Maschke

How we do elections can be downright destructive to democracy. 

The largest voting block during this fall’s primary? People who didn’t vote. Why would they, if their choice is between hell and high water? 

Like democracy, journalism similarly faces a crisis of trust. As a profession, we’ve been no less responsible for amplifying the divide. 

That’s why this election season — and just in time for Solutions Journalism Day — we’ve tried something different: prioritizing the issues top of mind to young voters and examining how local government impacts them. 

Solutions journalism is central to that approach. In producing our election guide, we looked for opportunities to examine responses to those paramount issues. 

Journalism has a duty to ask questions, and an obvious one raised by reporting on a problem is how we might fix it. Elections offer an ideal platform for that inquiry. 

Solutions journalism has been a big part of The Current’s digest since we launched in 2018. This year, we hired a health reporter to cover Louisiana’s stubbornly bad health outcomes through a solutions lens. 

For us, the practice — which applies rigor and skepticism to reporting about responses to common problems — is part and parcel of telling Lafayette’s whole story. It’s just solid journalism. 

This election season, we used our reporting to ask candidates directly about what they would do about these problems. After all, it’s what voters want. Action, not words. 

Fundamentally, that’s what solutions journalism is about. Highlighting solutions holds our leaders accountable to what’s possible. And what else are elections about if not what’s possible?