My name is John Deffenbaugh, and I have lived outside America for 50 years. My frame of reference is the 1960s when I grew up in Peoria, Illinois. I have travelled back to the US frequently since moving abroad in 1971, and these travels have reinforced how much America has changed – it’s no longer the America that I knew.
I therefore want to rediscover America, so have set out on a long road trip that will reflect my personal journey of discovery. The resulting book will be a socio-political historical travelogue, Rediscovering America.
My interest in history and politics will frame my exploration. I’ll visit places that I’ve been before and new places that interest me. I’ll listen to what people say, their views, and what underpins their thinking. I’ll visit old friends to renew connections, share stories and get their take on what has happened over the past 50 years. I’ll find out what has changed and explore what has caused this change. I may get a glimpse of the future.
My challenge will be to listen, not to advocate. I want to hear all views, all perspectives from across the country. I’ll take trains, buses and planes, hire cars and campers, cadge lifts. But unlike my travels in the 1960s, I won’t hitchhike.
My road trip comes at a momentous time – the convulsions of a contested election are still working their way through the system; 50 years of abortion precedent have been overturned; the economy and wars are causing Americans to question the future as they become more divided.
Through all this, I want to keep an open mind – to understand people and circumstances I encounter, and to see what this tells me about both America and me. I’ll be blogging under the broad categories of the conversations I have, the history I explore, and the travels I take. I look forward to your comments.