Monday, January 7, 2008

A New Hampshire State of Mind

With the gaggle of candidates, media and pundits currently running around New Hampshire ahead of tomorrow's primary, I felt it necessary to step back and acknowledge the satirical insanity of the whole process. This thought manifested itself in the below satire posted on EDGE New York this morning. I spent the weekend fighting a particularly nasty stomach flu but the the primary remains a particularly peculiar political institution which seems to galvanize the local, regional and even national partisan consciousness every four years. Enjoy!

As a native Granite Stater born in Nashua and raised in Derry and Manchester, I must confess that I once stood on a street corner in the Queen City shouting "We’re freezin’ for a reason," in support of U.S. Sen. John McCain [R-Ariz.]. This masochistic act of partisan loyalty (or insanity) took place in sub-zero weather ahead of the 2000 New Hampshire primary but my fellow campaign volunteers and I mirrored the enthusiasm the maverick GOPer brought to the state with his victory over President George W. Bush -- and the extra credit my high school American government teacher gave to anyone who volunteered for a campaign was an added incentive.

The political spectacle that is the New Hampshire primary is a fortunate or unfortunate part of live in the Granite State every four years depending upon who provides the commentary. Many Granite Staters take the state’s unique status very seriously while others, including my parents, would rather see the gaggle of candidates; media and pundits leave the state tout suite. We at EDGE, especially this native Granite Stater, recognize the need to have a bit of fun with the primary and so we have compiled a list of 10 things our politically-inclined readers should know about the storied New Hampshire primary.

1) Manchester is not Manhattan or Washington by more than a long shot. Bars close at 1:30 a.m. and the Red Arrow Diner, a popular hang-out for many of the candidates, remains the only eatery open 24/7 after Bickford’s on South Willow Street abruptly closed its doors more than a year ago. On the bright side, however, beers cost between $3 and $4 and mixed drinks are typically around $5. These prices are certainly a bargain for any urbanite who happens to find themselves in the Queen City on a cold January night.

2) This past month was one of snowiest Decembers in state history so any campaign volunteer who offers to help the tired Granite State voter shovel the snow at the end of their driveway is virtually guaranteed a vote for their respective candidate. Think independent voters!

3) The millions spent on political advertisements are much better spent on helping hard-working Granite Staters pay their bills. My parents in Manchester, for example, would potentially consider supporting a particular candidate who would extend this simple but necessary act of economic charity to them and other potential voters.

4) New Hampshire voters will certainly ask volunteers why they support their particular candidates. New Yorkers canvassing in support of U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton [D-N.Y] or native North Carolinians campaigning in support of former U.S. Sen. John Edwards [D-N.C.], for example, gain additional brownie points if they can talk about their hometown candidate and the accomplishments they feel he or she has made during their time in Washington. Anyone who arrogantly assumes a Granite Stater will support their respective candidate without a specific explanation will soon find themselves out in the cold faster than a Yankees fan supporting the Bronx Bombers during a World Series game at Libby’s in Durham.

5) Not everyone in New Hampshire wears red flannel shirts or considers cow-tipping a fun way to spend a Friday night. The bovine community extends its thanks in advance.

6) Check any resemblance of the Beltway at the state line. The fine residents of my home state will welcome the opportunity to show anyone the way back to Washington who foolishly thinks he or she can impress New Hampshire voters with condescending stories of partisan politics on the Hill or back-room dealings (or trysts). People choose to live in the state because it is not inside the Beltway.

7) The issue of taxes galvanizes Granite Staters like almost no other issue does. New Hampshire has no state income or sales tax. Any candidate - think billionaire Steve Forbes and his Flat Tax proposal - who dares to campaign in support of enacting these levies has immediately committed political suicide in New Hampshire. And even worse, voters will try to exile these unfortunate political souls to the so-called ’tax and spend’ haven to the south - Massachusetts.

8. Wool socks are a definite necessity for anyone who wants to canvass around the state. A source affirmed their value in an e-mail to me from Manchester over the weekend. January is cold in New Hampshire and it actually does snow Mary and Ethel!

9. Christmas is a time for family (or family drama), friends and for me at least a healthy serving of egg nog with a pinch of nutmeg and a nip of Bacardi. More than half a dozen political ads on WMUR immediately before the Walt Disney World Yule tide extravaganza certainly puts a cramp in many New Hampshire resident’s festive style. And they certainly fail to garner any additional support among the already weary potential voter.

10. New Hampshire residents will almost certainly take a collective sigh of relief after the remaining gaggle of candidates, media and pundits descend upon Nevada, South Carolina and other states -- but 2012 is just four short years away!

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