(Reprinted from the Keene NH Sentinel)
Politics is a year-round sport in New Hampshire, I’m learning. You old-timers perhaps were aware of that.
Case in point: the 2016 presidential election is two and a half years away — roughly the period in which Apple will introduce at least three new iphones and an wristwatch which morphs into a portable television (or have they already invented that?). Yet aspiring presidential candidates already are taking aim at the Granite State voters with all the eagerness of a hunter on the first day of duck season. And from the duck’s viewpoint, that’s not such a great thing.
A glob of Republican nominee wannabes, along with Donald Trump (seen above in an especially cuddly photograph), came to the state last weekend to show off their wares, though Trump seemed more motivated to sell shares in his buildings. Amazingly, several hundred people showed up to sit willingly in a stuffy room and listen to them on a day when it wasn’t cold or snowing outside. Given our recently concluded winter, those must be some serious New Hampshire political wonkers.
No one knows, of course, if any of those wannabes will wind up as the party’s nominee. And we haven’t yet seen much of the Democrats who will want to be renting the White House beginning in 2016. Hilary Clinton seems to be the prime favorite for that task, but again, the nominating process won’t be completed for another two years, during which time General Motors will have recalled every vehicle ever sold and the nation’s airlines will be charging an extra fee for anyone wanting to use a bathroom (or do they do that already?).
One of the races which appears to be generating almost as much interest as it has money is the contest for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s seat in the United States
senate. Sen. Shaheen, of course, is a Democrat who is running for re-election. She’s been holding one office or another in New Hampshire for three decades even though she’s not a native; Missouri was her birthplace.
I mention that last point because it seems to bear on her re-election bid. Her Republican opponent — yet to be determined, like almost everything about politics this year — just might be former Massachusetts resident and U.S. Senator, Scott Brown. He already has made several campaign visits to the state — just like everyone else — but now has decided to move in and become a Granite Stater. Democrats say he’s a (fill in your favorite derogatory term for anyone from Massachusetts), while Republicans insist he’s as much a resident as anyone else, specifically Sen. Shaheen, who was also born somewhere else. How this epic verbal clash over residency plays out is anyone’s guess. My guess would be that television stations will be the only winners because they’ll get the morass of advertising money the candidates spend to convince you of their rightness.
So in the big picture, what does all of this add up to, apart from a sentence that ends with a preposition in spite of the warning against that by my English teacher decades ago? I think the answer is not much. At least right now. And perhaps the reason why has to be the weather.
Can many New Hampshirites really sustain their enthusiasm for hotel meeting rooms in the face of a spring that brings us the sun and clear days? Will more than a handful of voters seriously even think about political candidates as we begin to move toward warm weather? Will anyone who has a rod and reel devote their brain to more than a micro-second of thought about anything that doesn’t live in a lake?
I said earlier that politics strikes me, a newcomer, as a year-round sport here in our special little corner of the world. But like the snowmobile, it’s likely to be a lot harder to find and pay attention to between April and October, when it’s more than two years — or, a long enough time for North Korea to begin manufacturing iphones and Vladimir Putin to seize France (he hasn’t done that yet, has he?) — before we get around to actual, serious voting.