Welcome to my page

Road in the US

A warm welcome to my new page on the BBC News website. This will be the home for my reflections, from the road, on American life.

"Who is the most important person you've ever interviewed?" I was asked the other day.

I didn't really pause before I replied that it was a woman in eastern Tennessee, in a town that was not much more than a long row of houses stretched out along the highway. The biggest and sturdiest building on the highway was a church, brick-built and squat. Most people lived in simple one-storey houses, as this woman did, and worked long hours at repetitive jobs. It was a place of pick-up trucks and big skies.

On the front door of this woman's house was a yellow ribbon. A flag hung, still, in the warm afternoon air. Inside, I sat on one of her big squidgy sofas and she on the other. In one corner of the room was an American flag, coiled around a pole, the sort you see in government offices and courtrooms across the country.

Start Quote

I will take you off the interstate highways and onto the backroads of America”

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A picture of her son was on the wall - he was ramrod straight, staring straight out at the camera, in the dress uniform of US Marine Corps. A good looking kid.

And the woman slowly told her story, of how she had been dismissed by her company for taking a call from her son who was serving in Afghanistan, of how she had been reinstated after an outcry, of how she felt that the country had forgotten the wars America was fighting - there were still troops in Iraq back then - and of how the gap between those who served in the military and the country that they served had grown unimaginably large.

So, look to my brilliant colleagues Mark Mardell and Katty Kay for the inside view on Washington DC and analysis of what makes US government tick.

I will take you instead to rural Rotary Club lunches and remote US border patrol posts, to the dying coalfields of eastern Kentucky and the boom towns of North Dakota, to the desolation of Detroit and the brash confidence of the Lone Star State. I will take you off the interstate highways and onto the backroads of America - I'll put, as the song has it, a little gravel in your travel. I hope you will come with me, and let me know if you like what you see.

Before all that, however, there is the final frantic week of an election to cover. I will be with Mitt Romney (nearly) every step of the way, covering his rallies, talking to his supporters, weighing his chances until polling day. It should be a fun, if rather crazed, ride.

Please come again - bookmark the page or add it to your RSS reader, and get in touch if you have any comments.

Jonny Dymond Article written by Jonny Dymond Jonny Dymond Washington correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Jonny, When you come to Detroit please check in with our group The Greening of Detroit. We will show you that Detroit though a post industrial city is not desolate. There is all kinds of grass roots activity taking place. gardening, tree planting and a resurgence of people in many areas. The citizens are very resilient and ride out the many problems they face.

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    Comment number 21.

    Jonny, good luck to you mate! Be careful not to get caught with pot in the USA like you did in Lithuania a few years back.

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    Comment number 20.

    Well Jonny, I hope you make an honest effort. I lived in Germany for four years and learned that every German is an America-expert. If I tried to correct basic mistakes, like Texas being a state and not the capital of Alabama, I got pitying looks for not knowing anything about my own country. I learned to hate the phrase, "Passt auf, und zwar Folgendes...."

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 18.

    Good luck!

    Lets hope you don't watch America vote in another far right republican twit who thinks the only game in town is another war in the Middle East....this time with Iran.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    A lot has to be done to ensure the rule of the law in the US:

    Even terrorists have the right for a process in front of a judge as every citizen with a lawyer in a civilised way

    The Guantanamo prsion violates basic human rights and the rule of the law!

    People can be shot on the streets for a "suspected" behaviour: People died without justification


  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Bob Ezergailis wrote:

    "Jonny, there is a lot about America today that has become quietly brushed aside. I hope that you are able to get to the core of what is happening to America, at the grass roots level, where the pain and uncertainty reside."

    Like what exactly? It sounds more like you wish to hear things that confirm what you what you want to believe. Americans are not a miserable people.

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    Comment number 15.

    "I wannabe in America"
    a famous song form West Side Story

    However, thereĀ“s a social imbalance in the US for a weak health insurance system and in general a wek welfare state

    The "American dream" only refers to personal in the sense of economic success with a lack for environmental - namely a modern politics in renewblke energy solutions - and social issues.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Jonny, there is a lot about America today that has become quietly brushed aside. I hope that you are able to get to the core of what is happening to America, at the grass roots level, where the pain and uncertainty reside. What is so neglected in the media is not policy and policy makers, but the people who are affected by policy and how those people are affected.

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    Comment number 13.

    The BBC obsession of America continues. Yet another Brit coming to America to try and describe American life and culture, often through biased and anti-American intentions.

    Soon he'll consider himself an expert on American life and culture, as I'm sure many of his readers will also. So much so that they'll be telling Americans they know more about America than they do.

    Sound familiar?

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    I don't watch TV or read newspapers. I read the BBC online, Guardian, and Drudge to get my news. Yours will be an interesting perspective. See if you can make a trip here to Alaska for a different perspective on the US

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    Comment number 11.

    There will be a temptation to talk only to the crackpots because, let's face it, ordinary, decent people can seem very boring if you don't take the trouble to unlock their passions. There have been thousands of hours of television like that, making the rest of the world think the USA is utterly mad. I hope you are given the time to paint a more honest picture. Good luck!

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    Comment number 10.

    American life as Americans know it is fast coming to an end.
    The debt is well-over 16 TRILLION; the GDP is slightly over 15 TRILLION. Interest on debt is compounding. How many jobs need Romney create to close this gap? It cannot be done! It's time for Lemmings to plunge headlong over the fiscal cliff, and then try to deal with survivors.
    What is Romney's plan to deal with this kind of debt?

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    Comment number 9.

    Alexander made a comment: "America from inside looks much better than from outside" = how true. we know our faults and try to deal - and don't like the outside world poking their nose in.

    we also enjoy more freedom most- and thank God when we don't have to deal with another new site blocked because our leader doesn't like an article - or ideas of tracking devices being placed in our cars.

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    Comment number 8.

    As an Englishman living in the mountains of East Tennesse, your initial insight is just so correct. The literary picture that you have painted is something I see and live with each and every day.I hope to follow your journey as you seem to have started by hitting to spot so well. You say welcome to my page....yes! your page is so very welcome too!

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Nobody on the outside can understand how the rigid haired Romney could get within 20% of any candidate. Most people see the States through the looking glass of the east or west coast, LA or New York ..with a dash a "Vegas n Texas" maybe. but it is the dusty evangelical red neck christian fatalistic heartland few visit where Romney draws his power and radical (lets say) policy from.

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    Comment number 6.

    I'll check your blog, as we really don't need another horse race blog, and could do fine with none. Issues and sociological insights rather preferred.
    For any who enjoy analyzing comments, I'm in Tennessee also, have already voted, for O, though not expecting him to carry this state.
    The way the electoral college works, my vote does not count except when the vote is close in this state.

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    Comment number 5.

    @3. Alexander

    Yes "America from inside looks much better than from outside". Especially when the outside view is presented by the BBC.

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    Comment number 4.

    An extremely contentious election, a nail-biting one, too close to call. The wealth of ideas versus material wealth, with the poor and middle-class pitted against the super-rich.!Without doubt the country would be best served by an astute, caring President.with hands-on experience. He has brought America from the brink, given the poor, middle-class real hope. Elections are about real merit, ideas

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    Comment number 3.

    Well, perhaps you have a chance if you'll follow this line. "America from inside looks much better than from outside" - I remember this my clear impression after few days there, when I visited US first (and so far last) time 7 years ago. Particularly striking was airport in Atlanta in very early morning - families waiting for their flight, a small crowd in smoking-room... there were normal people.


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