Thursday, February 11, 2016 Political spotlight shines on Milford

By the time you read this, the New Hampshire presidential primary will be over and we probably won’t see another contender or pretender until the late summer of 2018. Yes! Two-and-a-half years before we vote, presidential hopefuls and nopefuls will be coming to the Granite State to:

A. Pitch their points of view.

B. Annoy us unceasingly.

C. Be ignored by us until December 2019.

We do not mean to be ungrateful to them, however; we just wish they’d start the process a little later. And how can we be ungrateful? Look what happened last week in Milford when Donald Trump drew thousands of supporters, or curiosity seekers, to Hampshire Hills Sports & Fitness Club. With its Hampshire Dome, Hampshire Hills is one of, if not the, best venues for large gatherings in the state. Certainly it is the best such venue in small-town New Hampshire, and that speaks well for Milford, for the area and for the future of political gatherings in our area.

Lots of places host candidates. In Milford, Cirtronics is famous for bringing in Republican candidates, but it can’t bring in the number of spectators that Hampshire Hills can, and we think that’s a terrific story from the standpoint of bringing candidates and their entourages to our area. That’s good for local businesses. And it’s fun.

Now, not everyone was happy that Hampshire Hills rented space to the Trump campaign. They didn’t like him or his message or his rants about Muslims and immigrants (neither do we). Some would have preferred that the club not rent him space.

But Hampshire Hills has a history of renting its dome or its tennis courts or its banquet room to campaigns, Republican and Democrat. It is an open venue, and to deny it to the Republican Party’s leading candidate would have been a misjudgment. For our part, we’re happy that Trump was here, we’re happy that he spoke at Hampshire Hills because it’s the only place in our area that could accommodate a large crowd, and the more people who hear a candidate, the better. Sunlight, we believe, is the best disinfectant.

We hope that in 2018, many candidates come to our region and that Hampshire Hills will continue to rent them space. Bring ’em all in. Hey, why not a debate in the Hampshire Dome? Folks, large gatherings like the Trump event last week help to make Milford an important cog in the primary wheel. Why, just last Thursday, we heard Milford’s Karl Zahn on WGBH’s Eagan and Braude show talking about his candidate (wait for it): Donald Trump. Margery Eagan and Jim Braude, like Hampshire Hills, welcomes all legitimate candidates, and last week, no one was more legitimate than Donald J. Trump. Of course, that could have changed two days ago. We believe all candidates should find a speaking home in Milford, even if – perhaps especially if – they are candidates with whom we strongly disagree. We learn a lot more from those whose views we find odious because they force us to examine, or re-examine, our own. Or at least that’s what should happen.

Trump’s comments have often forced us to examine our own stands on issues such as immigration. We might have reached the same conclusions we held before such a re-exam, but it sure didn’t hurt us to take a second, third or even fourth look.

If conservatives only read the Weekly Standard, they’ll never have to think about changing their minds. If liberals only read Mother Jones, how will they know how others think? To quote Baldrick, the servant of Edmund Lord Blackadder in the BBC series "Blackadder": "I think thinking is so important, m’lord." Quite by accident (given his character), Baldrick got that one right. Trump and those who agree with him should make the rest of us think and re-examine our points of view, if for no other reason than to reassure ourselves of how right we really are. Bringing him to Milford can only help that.