O P I N I O N
Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
Recently, a failing presidential candidate complained about New Hampshire’s role hosting the first-in-the-nation primary.
It isn’t really worth mentioning the candidate or rewarding the excuses for their broken campaign beyond acknowledging that the candidate seems to dislike New Hampshire if that statement is any indication. That’s certainly unfortunate. Once they’re done with their campaign, if they haven’t dropped out already while everybody else was noticing the real candidates, they are always welcome to come back and get some of our great maple syrup to take back home to…. uh, wherever they came from.
However, I think it is important to rebut the candidate’s assertion and explain the three reasons why New Hampshire is well suited for our role in the presidential primary process beyond the mere fact that it’s part of our state law that we have to hold it before any other state presidential primary.
New Hampshire is still classified as a swing state, it isn’t out of the question for the candidate from either of the two major parties to collect New Hampshire’s four electoral votes. Our state’s two congressional seats aren’t considered safe for either party, and we’ve had U.S. Senators, governors and state legislatures held by both parties in recent memory.
Travel across the Granite State, and you’ll find opinions that represent viewpoints from all across America.
You can drive from the westernmost point of New Hampshire to the easternmost point of New Hampshire in about two hours. You can also drive from the southern border to the Canadian border in about four hours, but if you’re a presidential candidate, you don’t have to travel that far for the most part: around two-thirds of the state’s population is within a 90-minute drive of Manchester.
That proximity of reachable voters plus the fact it is ultimately an extension of Boston media market lowers the threshold for candidates with less resources to mount a viable campaign here. In some larger states with multiple media markets and dispersed population centers provides juggernaut campaigns an easier path to ignore retail politics and overwhelm possible underdogs.
An Engaged Citizenry
New England’s towns are the only part of the United States with direct democracy. Under New Hampshire RSA 49-B, the “governing body” and “legislative body” are viewed as separate concepts. Even though in some towns, those two constructs are vested under the aegis of local elected officials, in many the “legislative body” is the people of the town themselves.
It is part of the culture of this state for people to take the responsibility for governance, and in turn that extends to engagement with any candidate for public office that seeks to share this responsibility with us.
Although New Hampshire is unlikely to change significantly in land mass or population any time soon, there is always the possibility that the other two qualifications that make our state worthy of this role could change.
However, right now no other state can boast all three of those attributes. Until they can, they don’t deserve to supplant New Hampshire.
Beg to differ? Agree to disagree? Send your thoughtful prose on topics of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: The Soapbox
Andrew Sylvia can be reached at email@example.com