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Have you ever just stopped in the street and said to yourself, ”Wow, I wish I had that to do over!” and then found yourself exploring even larger questions?

Because of my short-lived political background, I ponder irrelevant questions and worry about them all the time.

I have some regrets.

For me it all happened back in 2014, but it only became clear what my concern should have been about two weeks ago.

Back in 2014, I was asked a question that I couldn’t answer. That was the problem.

Back then, I hated gerrymandering and concluded that the country was getting dangerously divided because of it, so I ran for political office on a theme that ”We must not lose our common ground.”

My strategy would be to find common ground with every person in my divided district and thus bring them together so we could reason together.

Maryland is two-to-one Democrat and the state legislature had crammed as many Republicans as possible into the district where I lived. I am a Democrat but I was sympathetic to my outnumbered Republican neighbors. I consulted the experts and was informed that I had at best of five percent chance of winning as a Democrat in this district.

I jumped right in!

I really believed I would win if I could find some common ground each time I knocked on another door.

I was all in. I contributed my own money to the campaign and I raised over $150,000. Susan and I and a small group of overoptimistic diehards spent that summer and fall knocking on 5000 doors, and debated the three incumbents who raised only around $5,000 together. They did not need the money. They had all been in office for over a decade in this gerrymandered district.

Late one hot summer Sunday morning, it turned out I didn’t know “ common ground” as well as I thought I did. Only about two weeks ago, did it all became clear.

When I knocked on the doors, I always had the same pitch: ”I believe we must find our common ground so we can all talk together.” Then for humor I would add, because I was over 65 years old, that ”if they were worried about term limits, nature would take care of that in my case.” Everybody laughed, and we talked as friends until I was asked whether I was a Republican or a Democrat, at which point the door was slammed in my face.

Of course, I remained optimistic. As I would drive home while the sun was going down, I believed the depth of my commitment would pull me through.

The depth of my commitment was only challenged once, when I could not find “common ground.“

Late in the August heat, I knocked on the door of a well-kept home in a trailer park, which had three steps on either side of the front door.

I knocked on that door and a heavyset woman dresses in a giant muumuu answer the door and after my pitch she announced: “I can’t talk to you right now because I don’t have any underwear on.”

How was I to answer that? For the first time maybe ever, I was speechless.

I couldn’t say, “You don’t need to be wearing underwear to read my materials,” or, “No problem I’ll wait til you put on your underwear.” I was dumbfounded. I could find no common ground.

For almost ten years, I have pondered this interchange. I thought and rethought about my inability to find an answer. I have not hesitated to tell this story to others in the hope that they might suggest something. Then about two weeks ago, a friend of mine had an answer right off the top of his head!

He said, “You forgot your theme. Why didn’t you just say, “That’s okay, I don’t either!”