This author traveled all 50 states to better understand America — then settled in Kansas City
Ryan Bernsten set out on a 23,000 mile journey to every U.S. state to listen to the stories of everyday Americans and understand their political beliefs. Then, he picked Kansas City to settle down. His new book shares what he learned in the process.
Ryan Bernsten, a former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer, drove across all 50 states to ask the question so many people are wondering in modern America: Is the U.S. as divided as it seems?
Evoking the style of Alexis de Tocqueville, his new nonfiction book "50 States of Mind: A Journey to Rediscover American Democracy" sees Bernsten drive from sea to shining sea searching for an answer.
Bernsten aimed to rid himself of "any vestige of self-righteousness or contempt" in the way he interacted with people on his trip, hoping for his preconceived notions to be challenged. He says there's a certain amount of humility that's missing in today's political discourse.
"We're such a diverse country and people's upbringings and the regions that they came of age in have such a profound impact on them," said Bernsten. "I think we have a real epidemic of not listening in this country, and people were so hungry to be heard."
He joined KCUR's Up To Date to talk about his trip to all 50 states, the book that came out of it and why he settled right here in Kansas City when he finished his journey.