Leave it to us to set political stage
This presidential primary season has proved to be one of the most interesting in our state’s history.
Just the sheer number of candidates makes it special, for lack of a better word, and gives our voters more choices than they’ve seen in years.
But as has been the case over the last several years, party leaders outside New Hampshire are looking at us cross-eyed again, wondering if New Hampshire – and Iowa with its caucus – really should have the power that our state has proved to have. Bill Clinton was "The Comeback Kid" because of how well he did here. Lyndon Johnson abandoned the presidency after Gene McCarthy’s showing in our primary.
And we have sent upon occasion some clear and strong messages to the national parties by, in essence, voting "none of the above" when, for instance, in 1996, we chose Pat Buchanan as the Republican winner here.
The national parties don’t seem to be all that fond of us. Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, has promised to take a hard look at our place in the pantheon of primaries when the GOP convenes in the summer. Of course, he can look all he wants because, as New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner constantly tells national politicians, changing it just isn’t going to happen.
In September, for instance, Gardner told WMUR television this:
"We have a law dating back to 1975, and as I have said over the years, this primary won’t be taken away from us by external forces. It will only change when the will of the people want it to change, and that’s pretty unlikely."
In other words, as is the case with helping to choose Republican and Democratic presidential nominees, it’s up to us, the voters of New Hampshire.
And other states can’t simply leap-frog over us, thanks to that state law. If, for instance, South Carolina, which follows our primary closely with its own, suddenly decided to hold voting on the first Tuesday in January, state law requires Gardner to reschedule ours to a week prior to South Carolina’s. So good luck with the leap-frogging.
What we need to do as voters, though, is once again prove to the national powers that be that New Hampshire is important because of our commitment to the process, because of our commitment to involvement.
In other words, we have to get out there on Tuesday, Feb. 9, and do our civic duty, i.e., vote.
New Hampshire always has a good turnout, unlike Iowa, where the number of folks attending caucuses is relatively small. But this year, we really should send an even stronger message by turning out in record numbers.
And given the number of candidates, that might be pretty easy. Each has his or her supporters, so if those supporters want to show the figurative flag, the best way to do that is to vote.
Sure, polls show that many of the candidates don’t appear to have much of a chance, but that’s what polls said about Harry Truman, and the voters took care of that.
If you are a supporter of one of those candidates given little or no chance, get out there and prove the polls wrong. And if you are a supporter of one of the poll-anointed leaders, get out there and make sure your candidate comes out of New Hampshire with that bump needed to help win South Carolina.
It’s in our hands, and we have very trustworthy hands regardless of what national political leaders might think.
Let’s just go out and prove it.