Adam Miller is seen reflected in the mirror of his motorcycle in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He thinks too many jobs are being sent overseas. 'I think the American dream has changed a lot,' he says. 'There used to be a genuine dream that you were going to work hard and it was going to pay off. That's not the case anymore. Half the people's dream is to just get by. It's a realization more than a dream.' Chris Killian
Sarah Robertson sits beside the books of the Koran in a prayer room at the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She's all for politicians arguing spiritedly over issues. But she thinks religion should be off limits. 'It’s important to me that people learn about Islam and that [Muslims] are not vilified in the media and by politicians,' she says. 'We need to stop using religion in this nation as a way to fight political battles.' Chris Killian
Carolyn Quandt, bowling at the Lucky Lanes in Denison, Iowa, believes the government should do more to help people unable to pay their mortgages. 'The government has to help these people,' says Ms. Quandt, who works as a meatpacker at Farmland Foods in Denison. 'It has a role to play, to at least help keep folks on their feet with a roof over their heads.' Chris Killian
Brenda Berry, who works at Harvest Moon Natural Foods in Winchester, Va., voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980, but hasn't supported a Republican since. She doesn't buy the GOP 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps' philosophy. 'Corporations are getting away with too many tax breaks, and the wealthy are, too,' she says. 'Meanwhile, those who aren't wealthy are suffering.' Chris Killian
Sam Castrogiovanni (l.) stands outside his auto repair shop in Las Vegas, while his one employee, Kenneth Mallet, looks on. Mr. Castrogiovanni believes Washington needs to do more to help the middle class and small business owners. 'Adding $5 trillion in debt to the economy is ... not how you build a foundation for the future,' he says. 'We need tax breaks; we need to get small businesses going again.' Chris Killian
Ann Perkins-Parrott, a bookstore owner in Durango, Colo., wants Washington to focus more on reducing greenhouse gases. ‘I don’t care what’s causing [global warming],' she says. 'The government needs to do something about it – start investing more in alternative energies.’ Chris Killian
Jackie Wood (l.) chats with Anne Wanke at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Janesville, Wis. Ms. Wanke, a Republican, has a friend who’s a liberal Democrat. Yet they have worked together on projects for 30 years. "Why can’t politicians do the same thing?" she asks. Chris Killian
Vernon Davis, a military veteran at a VFW Post in Alamosa, Colo., wants Washington to stop spending so much money. "We’re digging ourselves a great big financial hole, and one day we’re not going to be able to climb out of it," he says. "But you don't see any of these politicians working together to get it done. You can't keep printing money." Chris Killian
On the eve of a historically tight election, a writer drives through swing states and listens to the voices of America, hearing one overriding plea: 'Washington, stop bickering. Get something done!'
Chris Killian, Correspondent /
November 3, 2012
Photo illustration by John Kehe
The Sunday service wraps up and parishioners file into the fellowship hall at Trinity Episcopal Church, an imposing structure in this southern Wisconsin town built out of stones so thick that it seems they could only be moved by deity. Weak coffee burns on a warmer near a wall rack of communal mugs. Sweet goods pack a foldout table – cheese strudel, sticky buns, cinnamon-sugar donuts.