Southwest Voters Answer The Question: What Keeps You Up At Night? NPR's David Greene talks to married couple Connie Liu and Chris Hoover, doctors in New Mexico, where many patients are from indigenous communities, about worries that shape political choices.
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Southwest Voters Answer The Question: What Keeps You Up At Night?

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Southwest Voters Answer The Question: What Keeps You Up At Night?

Southwest Voters Answer The Question: What Keeps You Up At Night?

Southwest Voters Answer The Question: What Keeps You Up At Night?

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NPR's David Greene talks to married couple Connie Liu and Chris Hoover, doctors in New Mexico, where many patients are from indigenous communities, about worries that shape political choices.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

As Democrats and Republicans hold their virtual party conventions, we're bringing you the voices of voters because, really, politics is personal. It's your lives, your anxieties, your struggles that shape your political choices. And those choices will determine who's president. We drove recently from Albuquerque two hours west to Gallup, N.M.

Dr. Liu?

CONNIE LIU: Yes, hi.

GREENE: Hey. I'm David. Hi. Nice to meet you.

LIU: Nice to meet you.

CHRIS HOOVER: I'm Chris.

GREENE: Hey Chris, I'm David. Nice to meet you.

TARO: We do have our chickies.

LIU: Yes, we have our chickies.

GREENE: Should we go see the chickies? Let's go see the chickies. I mean...

We were visiting the home of Drs. Connie Liu and Chris Hoover and their very welcoming 3-year-old Taro (ph), as well as her chickens.

Do they have names?

TARO: One's called Corn (ph). One's Wind (ph) and Trees (ph) and Soap (ph) and Dee-Dee (ph).

GREENE: Oh, very cool. And what's your name?

TARO: Taro.

GREENE: Nice to meet you, Taro. You are the best tour guide.

So after Taro's tour, we all sat on the front porch, socially distant, with a baby monitor turned up. Their newborn Hero (ph), born just a few months ago, was inside sleeping. As we settled in, they explained why they chose to settle down in this rural part of New Mexico.

LIU: Yeah, we were living in Boston. And I - you know, we had actually come out here for our honeymoon to New Mexico. I mean, we were a few years out of residency. It just seemed like a good time to make a move. And I'd always kind of wanted to work, you know, in an area like this. So we decided to come out here.

GREENE: What are your two fields?

LIU: I'm an OB-GYN.

HOOVER: And I'm a urologist.

GREENE: Got it.

HOOVER: I'm actually the only urologist in this county.

GREENE: Really?

LIU: Yeah, they didn't have a urologist for the last decade. And then he moved here and is now the only urologist in the area.

GREENE: Wow.

LIU: Yeah.

GREENE: Many of the patients Connie and Chris see are from the Navajo Nation nearby. And the reality for these Indigenous communities - yeah, it's hard to find a urologist or other specialists. There's not always Internet or cell service, and so you can't rely on telemedicine. There is also widespread mistrust of the U.S. government that stems from generations of trauma from forced sterilizations to nuclear pollution on their reservations. Add a global pandemic to that mix, and it is a very vulnerable community. Connie and Chris have dedicated their lives to helping people. And I asked them the question we've been asking all of the voters we've met.

What's been keeping you up at night?

HOOVER: Well, this intersection of this giant public health crisis and police violence and protest - this thing has uncovered or brought to the surface so many of the existing, long-standing injustices that separate rich from poor, Black from white. And what keeps me up at night is the sense of not being able to - not being able to do anything about it.

GREENE: You're a doctor. You're trained in your life to fix things and make people better.

LIU: ...And especially a surgeon.

HOOVER: Yeah.

LIU: And I would say, for me, I think that one of the things that really keeps me up at night is I think that we see around us a lot of confusion about public health messaging. The CDC and other public health experts seem to be sidelined. And these are organizations and people that I really trust. And so to see their expertise being placed at the wayside is - it was really troubling to me.

GREENE: Connie and Chris come across as pretty calm, sensible. But I guess when you're doctors, if you don't see a way to fix things and you think people aren't relying on science, you just lose it sometimes.

LIU: I think you've had some emotional moments.

HOOVER: Yeah, I mean, the time when I lost control was a mask-related issue. That was pretty low. Somebody came to the house to hand-deliver a package, and he was not wearing a mask. And Taro was playing outside. She wasn't wearing a mask. That made me super worried in that lioness-protecting-her-cubs sort of way, right? So all of a sudden, I had this, like, adrenaline going. And then that all tied in with this whole politicization of mask wearing.

GREENE: What'd you do?

HOOVER: Told Taro to come inside. I got my mask on, asked him why he wasn't wearing one. And he gave some sort of nonresponse. And then he said something back at me about, why are you getting so upset in front of your young child and setting a bad example for her? So...

LIU: I mean, the truth is I think you got frustrated. You lost your temper. You yelled at the guy.

HOOVER: Yeah, it was. It was like all of these things coming together at once.

LIU: Yelling at somebody for not wearing a mask or for doing something that you think may be harmful is not productive. I mean, that's not our job. Our job is not to educate people one by one to be behaving in ways that are good for the common good. That's really the job of our politicians, of the government, you know, people who can really communicate that message - hopefully in a coherent way - and have people listen.

GREENE: Have you two made a choice between Biden and Trump at this point?

LIU: Well, I'm definitely voting for Biden.

HOOVER: Yeah, no. I mean, there was never a option for me to vote for Trump. It seems like an odd thing to do.

GREENE: Why do you say that?

HOOVER: I have a very hard time siding with anyone that continues to just tell lies all the time.

GREENE: What is it like to bring a child into the world in a moment like this?

LIU: Within the first two months of Hero's life, our daughter, we went to two protests. And I think what we really want to teach our kids is that it's really important to protest. It's really important to use your voice and to be engaged in what's going on around you.

GREENE: These were protests against racial inequality?

LIU: Yeah, there was a - well, two months ago, there was a protest here in response to Black Lives Matter protests all over the country. And I just got the sense that people felt like they were being heard. And I really want our kids to feel like that.

GREENE: Speaking of kids, you could hear crying from that baby monitor now. Connie went inside, got the baby, came back out and was bouncing Hero on her lap.

Hi, Hero.

LIU: Just woke up.

GREENE: You're really cute.

LIU: Say hi, David.

GREENE: I was going to ask you both what gives you hope in this moment. I have a feeling it might be - involve the little person sitting on your lap. But what, like, keeps you going through this year?

HOOVER: My hope is that in that - oh, no, you don't need to be sad. No, we're talking about hopeful things, yeah. My hope is that through our words and actions that we'll be able to...

TARO: Can I go them (ph)?

HOOVER: Yeah.

TARO: OK. It smells like garbage.

HOOVER: ...(Laughter) Through our words and actions that hopefully we'll be able to have these two see the good in that, see the good in speaking out and helping those that, for whatever reason, may not be able to help themselves.

GREENE: Thank you both so much.

LIU: Yeah.

GREENE: Hero, Taro and Drs. Connie Liu and Scott Hoover from Gallup, N.M.

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