As I prepare for my second New Hampshire Primary, a few random thoughts come to mind.
There are a lot of things I love about living in New Hampshire. Its major newspaper, the Union Leader, however, is not one of them. The Union Leader has to be one of the most conservative and polarizing newspapers I have ever come across. Granted, most newspapers are just slightly better than your average high school paper, but the Union Leader and its publisher Joe McQuaid have taken news to a new low. The paper has backed Newt Gingrich for the Republican nominee for President, and, as usual, attacked anyone who questions even a hint of good old traditional American values. The only real American value I know of is excess, but we work hard so we are entitled to consume with carefree abandon, right?
For the record, I am not necessarily dismissive of conservative values; people have a right to believe what they want and to conduct their lives in ways that they feel is best. The idea of a smaller government is appealing, if unrealistic. However, I am more than a little confused by the logic behind contemporary conservatism. On the one hand they speak of smaller government, but on the other they desire a strong and deadly large military.
Let me concentrate on fiscal conservatism only. I do understand the need to balance the budget and tighten our belts if we are to get out of the economic mess we are in. However, since the entire country is in a recession (like it or not, I believe that we are), then should not the entire country pull together to lift us out of it? Not raising taxes on the rich, better known as trickle down economics, is perhaps the lamest economic strategy I have ever heard. The rich, people like Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, do not pay as much in federal taxes as the average middle class American. Taxing the super rich a bit more will not do one thing to alter their lifestyle. Well, that’s not quite true: it will embitter more than a few of them. The tax code does need to be changed but I am not going to pretend that I understand how to go about doing that.
I could go on, but I do not want this blog to turn into a just another political commentary on conservative ideas. Instead, I plan on hitting the streets of Manchester and its surrounding communities this week to hear the Republican candidates speak for themselves. So much of what we get from the press is either misinformed, published too quickly to fact check, or just plain lies. The best thing about the New Hampshire Primary is that one gets several chances to see and hear the candidates up close. Since we have a president who is running for re-election, the primary will focus on the Republican side and should be much “easier” to handle than it was four years ago.
The New Hampshire Primary is still several days away, but the tour buses of the various candidates have already rolled into town. The media is beginning to arrive, and as cliché as it sounds, the charge is in the air. Today I spotted Mitt Romney’s bus, received three calls in two hours from Ron Paul (actually, the recorded voice of Ron Paul), and have been contacted twice to take part in a non-partisan political survey. All of which can be overwhelming and or extremely annoying for those of us who don’t like to answer the phone or open the door.
Politics is an interesting sport, but it’s just that, a sport. The sad fact is that these politicians have our lives in their hands. Lifelong politicians should be exiled to their own private home for the egotistical and the deranged. They should be made to watch episodes of The Kardashians over and over until they (the politicians) dissolve into tears and uncontrollable spasms. Italo Calvino has a wonderful story called “Beheading the Heads” that, well, let’s just say that the “Heads” are the heads of state. You can read the story for the rest. That story provides us with a bright possibility for the future. My problem with politicians, especially lifelong ones, is the sincerity issue. I do not find one of them sincere. An argument can be made that sooner or later all politicians fall into the ego trap. They become more important than the issues, the people, and the ideas of freedom and democracy.
It’s going to be an interesting week here in New Hampshire. I expect to be enlightened, angered, wooed, insulted, the list goes on. The one thing I won’t be is bored. At least I hope not.