New Hampshire is the most spoiled of all the states.
Every four years presidential candidates converge upon New Hampshire and plead with voters. Give me a moment of your time. Give me your hand to shake. Give me your baby to kiss. Give me your vote.
But New Hampshire has just over one million residents? But New Hampshire is worth only a measly four electoral votes in November?
None of that matters.
New Hampshire has the first presidential primary, and because of this they sit in the top seat. In no other state do Americans have the ability not only see, but to converse with, so many candidates running for president of the United States. On any given weekend during the late fall of 2007, I could travel a short distance and listen to a candidate in an intimate setting. Close enough to hand Hillary a Kleenex. Close enough for Rudy Giuliani to hear my audible sighs.
When it comes to politics, particularly presidential politics, New Hampshire matters. Even with its lack of ethnic diversity or even an urban center, New Hampshire is given the task of leading the nation. One would think or at least hope that with this responsibility New Hampshire voters would be the most knowledgeable in the country. Unfortunately, they are not. Citizens of New Hampshire, like their countrymen, are too caught up in being on the side that wins.
As a secondary school history teacher I have the honor and duty to inform my students about the world around them. However, I also have the opportunity to hear their thoughts on the most recent election. The fascinating thing about the twelve year-olds I teach is that their political musings are often the unfiltered diatribes they hear at home, from their parents, New Hampshire voters.
Just yesterday I heard one student say, “Did you hear that Obama might not be able to run because he was born in Kenya?” This spring one lovely young girl was convinced that Senator Obama was a Muslim. I told her that was untrue, but followed up by asking what would the consequences be if it were true. Perhaps the most jaw-dropping of all statements came just last week when one young man said, “Obama said his priest was a racist.”
Talking to eligible voters and listening to their children has convinced me that New Hampshire is no more informed than any other state. Which is a shame, because no citizens have greater opportunity to be well-informed as the people of New Hampshire.
Gabe Mosca teaches geography and politics in New Hampshire.