Thursday, November 06, 2008

Blue Hampshire

The election is over; most of the results are in and overwhelmingly across the country folks voted for change. Here in NH, voters proved that the elections of 2006 were not a one-time thing – that NH has become a blue state. Instead of acknowledging that, the NH pundits are busy explaining that this election was ANOTHER reaction to our absentee president, George Bush. It will be interesting to see what they blame it on in 2010. Anything to avoid taking a look at the root causes.

“Voters are angry,” I heard John Sununu, Sr. say to a very sympathetic WMUR reporter who kept patting his shoulder on election night. He waggled his big head and said folks shouldn’t vote in anger. Apparently it never occurred to him that maybe the voters were angry with his son, and that’s why they voted him out. Young John E came up with a plan to privatize Social Security that was even scarier than the one Bush was floating, he told business owners worried about health insurance costs to “stop complaining” – and his father wonders why voters were angry? We didn’t like the phone-jamming thing, either, Papa Sununu.

Those who aren’t blaming Bush are blaming Obama. It seems Carol Shea-Porter and Jeanne Shaheen rode to victory on the coattails of Barack Obama. In 2006, Shea-Porter beat Jeb Bradley, and that was explained away as voters hating Bush and being angry about the war. Two years later, she stomped Bradley again, and now it’s being explained away as riding the Obama wave. The same old tired pundits don’t take a moment to think that perhaps we voters like our Congresswoman, and we approve of the job she’s doing for us. Even though she’s been elected (quite handily) to a second term, the punditocracy of NH is still dismissing her as a “fluke.” Jeb Bradley’s two terms were not written off that way. He wasn’t described as “riding the Bush wave.”

NH has changed. One has only to look at voter registration numbers. The number of registered Republicans has been slowly declining while the number of registered Democrats has been slowly growing. This is a sign of change, but one that is ignored by our pundits and pollsters, who seem unwilling or unable to grasp the idea that things can change in NH, never mind that they already have. I don’t expect anything better from the Union Leader, but the rest of the chattering class, including UNH pollster Andy Smith, really need to wake up and smell the coffee. They’re still drinking instant, when the rest of the state is moving on to freshly ground.

The marriage of the GOP to the Christian right has proven to be unpalatable to many. The spawn of that marriage are rabid, intolerant, ideologues – people like Sarah Palin. They appeal to the basest of the GOP base, the kind of Republicans who march in lockstep to whatever they hear on hate radio and TV. Meanwhile, the smart, thinking, and intellectual members of the GOP are jumping ship. The moderate members of the party feel as though they’ve been left behind. It’s time for the Republican Party to have a makeover, especially in NH. The days when having an “R” next to your name on a ballot guaranteed a win are over. De-regulation failed. Trickle down economics don’t work, no matter how many times you try it. If cutting taxes were the answer to job creation, no one would be out of work right now. The unfettered free market doesn’t work, either. Hate and intolerance are not family values. It’s time for the GOP to accept homosexuals. (Hint: it will lead to fewer sex scandals if you accept the closet gays within your own party.) Time to get over your white male selves, and leave women’s bodily autonomy alone. You don’t have to like abortion – no one does. Abstinence only sex ed doesn’t work. Move into the real world, and find ways to ensure abortion seldom happens. Forced incubation should not be a “value.” If you really are in favor of smaller government, then get out of bedrooms and doctors offices. Be what you say you are.

As thrilled as I was to receive all of the local GOP mailers – especially Gene Chandler’s attempt at looking studly by the woodpile – the days of mail order campaigning are over. The NH GOP has no ground game. For the first time ever, I saw a few local Republicans in front of the Conway office holding signs. They may have been attempting to compete with the highly visible groups of Democrats who were out that day, but it was a beginning. Like all beginners, they required a reminder from the Conway PD, who came by to tell them to get out of the street.

The NH GOP messages throughout the campaign were the same one they’ve been using for a century. “Cut taxes, cut spending,” and “NH doesn’t have a revenue problem, NH has a spending problem.” Again, it’s time for the NH GOP to move into the real world. Craig Benson told us that families sat around kitchen tables making decisions about cutting out the things they couldn’t afford in their budget. It’s a typical GOP pronouncement that fails to acknowledge a simple fact. There are only so many cuts one can make. When one can’t afford basic services, it’s time to go out and get a second job. The myth of the tax and spend liberal is just that. George Bush gave us a far bigger government, and borrowed us into near bankruptcy. NH Democrats don’t want to spend foolishly. At the local candidate’s forum, I was struck by how often Gene Chandler said he was against legislation. Maybe, it’s time to start attempting to work with the majority party instead of just bellowing no.

The challenges of the 21st century require different attitudes and solutions. If the NH GOP can’t move into the present, they’re condemning themselves to sliding even further into irrelevance. That goes double for the NH punditocracy.

“Last night wasn’t just a victory for tolerance; it wasn’t just a mandate for progressive change; it was also, I hope, the end of the monster years.” Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman, on election night.

This appeared in the Conway Daily Sun on November 7, 2008


Cerebus said...

I would disagree with you. Voters were still voting against Bush. How many times have we heard the phrase,"The failed policies of the Bush regieme"?
Wasn't it also Bob Dylan who said, "Money doesn't talk, it screams"?
Time will tell if this is indeed a different election, or if Obama simply understood the economics and power of the visual media.

I remember listening to an interview with and old rock 'n roll musician. When asked what he thought the worst thing that happened to music was, he answered,"MTV" because it took a musical experience and made it into a theatrical one. We have seen the new campaign that has taken a political experience and turned it into a very sad theatrical effort.

Anonymous said...

What a sad statement for me to read Cerebus. This was not just an election against an almost facist and hate mongering "regime", but a desire on the part of citizens like myself to deny the order of fear mongering and corruption. No one voted for Obama because of entertainment value, visual media or theatrics. We voted him in because of substance. McPalin lacked absolute substance. McCain time and again refuted and refused plain cordiality to anyone who didn't agree with him. That is exactly what we had for 8 miserable years, the creed being, if you disagree with us, you are unpatriotic, unAmerican and therefore, an enemy agent. How ludicrous. McCain showed himself to be a fossil, embedded in the stale and ancient ideals of rich white men. And if anyone knows rich white me it is I. A white female, I spent a lot of time in Apartheid South Africa, governed only by men very like McCain, Bush, Cheney, Tom McClaughin, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. They preach with a bible in one hand and a gun in the other. The legacy if we can call it that, that Obama and the rest of us have to now deal with is overwhelming in its toxicity. Americans were very quick to preach to white South Africans to get out of the way and let the majority rule. Well, the majority here has spoken. We voted in an erudite, bright and cool headed man to lead us out of the darkness and into peace and prosperity. Republicans I have come to observe in my 20 plus years here don't like peace and prosperity because I suppose, they, like their Broederbunder counterparts in old white South Africa, enjoy ridding themselves of the chips on their shoulders by going to war and destroying the lives of others. In 2009, we ought not to be living through the barrel of a gun. We really do need to sit down and talk about things. No theatrics here, just level headed, intellectual reasoning at work. That's what this election was all about!

Norma said...

Sorry honey, there's no marriage with the Christian right among Republicans, only RINOs, wimpos, and dem-o-wannabees. Bush went to war with full support of the Democrats in congress using their intelligence, and when it wasn't over in a week, they wanted to run out like we did in Korea and Vietnam. Thank goodness he stood for something.

susanb said...

I can understand why you're feeling so bitter, Norma. You ought to lay of the O'Reilly and Hannity - you'll feel better in no time.

peter said...

"To put it in a few words, the true malice of man appears only in the state and in the Church, as institutions of gathering together, of recapitulation, of totalization."
- Paul Ricoeur

Democrats & Republicans need to recognize my right to self-government, and that one-size-fits all policies the government supplies are detrimental to humanity. There is a lack of choice--in financial and other matters--how the government operates. Because of the inherentness of our differences and hence different needs, these policies harms all of us.

CraftyVeggie said...

Well said Norma, like a true Broederbunder. This "honey" has always been amazed by any woman or minority who votes with men for war and killing. No nurturing and Christian like behavior in that, no independent thought, or intellectual forethought in paying back the military lobbying groups by offering them war to use their hardware. The party of rich white men is over, and "running out" of countries is a delusion. How about you were chased out each and every time. You war mongering types have a lot of nerve thinking other countries want you policing their sacred lands. Guess what? It's over.

Anonymous said...

I highly doubt it's over! Obama says he'll have our troops home within a responsible time frame. I doubt they'll be home in the next 4 years!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Susan for an intelligent summary. New Hampshire is changing, but we cannot sit back and bask in Obama's achievement. The lack of coat tails in Carroll County, with the strong pockets of vibrant red in Wakefield, Moultonborough, Tuftonboro, Wolfeboro, and Ossipee show how far we have to go to put local Democratic candidates into office. I believe that having strong Democratic candidates committed to running at least twice for any local office and to working hard at registering voters and building the Democratic organizations in those red towns NOW, will speed up that change and result in better government. Why? Because voters to some extent in this election split their ticket, going Democratic for the top offices but Republican for local reps. That good hearted schitzophrenia may be an attempt to embrace change while keeping "local control", but it will mean great frustration for those townspeople as the Democratic majority wrestles with what to cut and how to fund. We live in interesting times!