By D. Allan Kerr
Dear New Hampshire:
I love ya – I really do. I spent a lot of great years living within your borders and, although I’m no longer technically a resident, my wife and I both work there and live close enough to be, at the very least, sort of your first cousins.
But there’s a bit of a perception of you out there among the rest of the country, and historically much of it is your own doing.
You were the last state in the nation to recognize Martin Luther King Day as an official holiday (initially calling it Civil Rights Day), and even then it was a bit of a struggle to get there.
In not one but two well-publicized incidents at town-hall type events during recent presidential campaigns, residents still insisted Barack Obama is a Muslim despite all evidence to the contrary.
A lot of people still associate you with a churlish whack job who ran the state’s largest newspaper years ago and used it as a bully pulpit to get his way – whatever it happened to be at that particular hour.
And 20 years ago this month, you gave Patrick J. Buchanan a victory in your celebrated first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
This was at a time when the conservative commentator referred to New York City’s Gay Pride Week as a “celebration of sodomy” and an international women’s conference in Beijing, China, as a “dingbat conference.”
He warned that “bilingualism and multiculturalism carry within them viruses that are deeply dangerous to the health of the United States,” and proposed building a security fence along America’s southern border to keep out illegal immigrants.
(Yes, that was being touted back in 1996. Donald Trump IS Pat Buchanan – plus Twitter and minus 50 IQ points.)
I’m not saying all this defines who you are as a state, or who your citizens are as people, but it has created a particular image among folks who live outside New Hampshire, and especially beyond New England.
So as you prepare to cast your votes in the first primary of this election season, just keep in mind the grave responsibility you bear. To quote Peter Parker (that’s Spiderman to those of you among the unhip): “With great power comes great responsibility.”
The good news is that Granite Staters 1) have no tolerance for whiners and crybabies, and 2) have always known better than to follow the polls – which is more than can be said of the mainstream media and certain political candidates.
You don’t win elections from poll numbers, you win by getting votes. This might seem like an obvious statement but I’m amazed how many people don’t seem to get that.
Consider the folks over at MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Before the current campaign cycle this was my favorite political talk show, by far. But over the past few months the hosts there became so sickeningly sycophantic I’m physically unable to watch them now.
At one point, I think it might have been around November or maybe even October, the show’s star was raving about the poll numbers of a particular candidate and said something along the lines of, “At what point are they just going to call this thing on a TKO?”
This was a good couple months before a single vote had been cast. I was absolutely stunned. I sat there asking the TV screen, “Are you a freaking idiot?”
But this is only one of the reasons why the media looked even more foolish than usual in the wake of the Iowa caucuses. Another is their general preference to the lazy approach of reporting. Instead of, you know, actively exploring who these candidates really are, they replay sound bites and then analyze them ad nauseam.
So it’s up to voters to investigate these people running for office and make up their own minds – a process now made easy by the wonders of technology.
Whatever you think of Marco Rubio’s politics, it’s downright inspiring that the son of a bartender and a housekeeper both born in Cuba can grow up to become a serious contender for president – and marry a Miami Dolphins cheerleader. I keep citing Rubio because his is such a remarkable story, but the same could be said about the compelling backgrounds of Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina and other candidates.
The point is, your vote is going to help plot the course of this election. In the case of Pat Buchanan, who was often accused of racism and anti-Semitism, his New Hampshire victory in 1996 alerted the rest of the country to the fact that, holy crap, our next president could be PAT BUCHANAN!
Think about who you want to represent America on the global stage. Think about who our commander-in-chief should be in times of crisis and who will help ease our grief in times of sorrow. Think about who the young people of this country should look up to as they consider their place in the world.
The time for games is over. The world is watching.
D. Allan Kerr wonders why Megyn Kelly seems to be the only TV journalist who remembers the art of the follow-up question.
(February 6, 2016)