Radio Free NH: The Primary Seems So, Well, Insignificant This Year

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Nancy West photo

Evan Lips records the first-in-the-nation presidential primary memorabilia at NH State House Visitors' Center in Concord in this file photo.

By MICHAEL DAVIDOW, Radio Free New Hampshire

Mayor Pete for Congress! I like this guy. He is smart, ambitious, and hard-working. True, he has no sense of humor. But I appreciate how he has taken time from his consulting career to help make a better future for the city of South Bend, Indiana. I hope he runs for Congress someday, and I hope he wins. I want to encourage him to remain in public service.

Then there is Andrew Yang… at least we got rid of Bill DeBlasio in time…

In other words: why does the New Hampshire primary seem so insignificant this year? With the stakes so high, the players seem so small. We’re also increasingly boxed in by Iowa and South Carolina, with California looming, too — people don’t seem interested in us anymore. We are boring, old, and white.

Michael Davidow writes Radio Free New Hampshire

Of course, we were also boring, old, and white in 2016, when Bernie knocked out Hillary. And we all know how that turned out: the nation ignored us, Hillary won, and wait a minute. That did not happen. Turns out that large parts of our country were as sick of Hillary’s centrist mush as we were; that her general goal of subtly matching (like a good wine pairing) new BMW sport-utes in the driveways of select suburban cul-de-sacs with your own children celebrating “diversity” at their local public schools was not, in fact, much in demand. 

So how can New Hampshire make things meaningful this time, and how can we get people to listen better? Not on the blue side, that’s for sure. As things stand, the final race will be between Trump versus Not-Trump, and while people can argue about which candidate gives the Democrats the edge in that contest, those arguments go in circles: if a progressive scares away the moderates, wouldn’t a moderate similarly alienate the progressives? Rather than gaming it out, then, perhaps the Democrats should all simply vote for whoever they like best, and let the ballot box decide who wins… there ought to be a name for that process… like “democracy” or something…

Which leaves us with the Republican side, then.  Which consists of two people: Trump and Bloomberg. 

I know, Bloomberg is now a Democrat. But can you imagine the fireworks if he switched? It is nearly impossible to run against an incumbent. Their advantages tend to be overwhelming. You can only do so, if you have nothing to lose. Bloomberg is the man, and I hope he realizes that, soon. (And when they ask him why he started as a Democrat, and couldn’t make up his mind, I urge him to answer honestly– blandly, honestly, and solidly: “The party system is broken. I can’t find a home. I am a problem solver. I just want to win, and the Democrats wouldn’t have me.”)

At heart, after all, Bloomberg is a Republican. He just happens to be the sort that has disappeared over time. He belongs to the party that once included people like Fiorello LaGuardia, Dwight Eisenhower, and John Lindsay. Non-sarcastic Lincoln-quoters, who actually used to fight against ethnic division, crooked politics, and fixed economies, and actually used to promote human decency, ethical behavior, and sound economics. Imagine what such a Republican might say about climate change, and how to fix it! We have to imagine that, because no such animal exists right now.

At least not in public. There are still a few in private.  They often call themselves “independents” here in New Hampshire. I have some as friends, and some even voted for Trump last time. Some did so because they preferred a liar to a thief; because they didn’t want to see Congress investigating the Clinton Foundation for four whole years. Some did so because they trusted Trump’s past, when he seemed more libertarian than anything else. Some did so because they figured the Republican establishment would step in and take over from a man who seemed to be, more than anything else, a disinterested figurehead.

Those people did not get what they wanted.  They got another crook. They got a hard right-winger. The Republican establishment turned out to be craven. Perhaps these people can find a way to express how they feel. 

In years gone by, voters would sometimes cast their ballots for a local politician in a national race. This was called a “favorite son” candidacy. You would vote for your governor, for example; your governor would then control a small bloc of delegates at the national convention; he or she could then use those votes to obtain something of value. More imagination, then: what if a favorite son candidate emerged from New Hampshire with even ten percent of the Republican vote? Would that be enough blood in the water to tempt Mitt Romney, or John Kasich, or some other brave soul, to take their chances further down the line?

We can only hope so. But there is only one way to find out.

Mayor Pete for Congress, and Governor Sununu for President. Happy New Year, New Hampshire. Let’s make something happen here.

Michael Davidow is a lawyer in Nashua.  He is the author of Gate City, Split Thirty, and The Rocketdyne Commission, three novels about politics and advertising which, taken together, form The Henry Bell Project.  His most recent one is The Book of Order. They are available on Amazon.

Views expressed in columns and opinion pieces are those of the author and do not reflect those of

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