US Politics - 2008 Election

New Hampshire Day 1 - Still no Mission

By Andrew C. Bome
Published January 06, 2008

(Editor's Note: Andrew C. Bome is in New Hampshire for the US presidential primaries and agreed to write a journal for those Raise the Hammer readers who are interested in following US politics. -Ed.)

This winter I am spending the first weekend in January in New Hampshire. If you are a hardcore political junkie, New Hampshire during the primary season is the place to be. On the way across the border we told the Border Guard what we were doing - he laughed. When you get the Border guards laughing at you, you are through.

I am here with my friend Alan. He knows more about the numbers side of politics than anyone I know. I would never bet any real money against him on any political matter; I may as well just give him the money.

My only demand to him was that we see Barack Obama and that we see Hillary Clinton. My gut feeling is that one of those two will be president and that I want to be able to brag to (someone else's) grandchildren that I saw Hillary and Obama before they were president.

We arrived in New Hampshire in the evening. The snow was relatively deep and on the side of the road it was piled between waist and shoulder high.

On the way to our Hotel we saw our first lawn sign - it was a Ron Paul sign. Since then I have seen two more signs; one was a Hillary sign and the other was a Richardson sign.

They are all alike. The background is roughly the same shade of blue, the lettering is white with the candidate's name, and there is some type of red and white graphic that is supposed to remind you of the American flag - boring. Give me Canada's red for liberal, blue for Tory, orange for New Democrat colour scheme any day.

The first event we went to was for Bill Richardson. It was billed as a job interview: the job that Governor Richardson is applying for is President of the United States.

Richardson would probably make a decent president. He is a reasonably competent governor of New Mexico and was in President Clinton's cabinet. Unfortunately in this campaign, reasonably competent makes him only the fourth or fifth best candidate amongst the democrats.

I don't know whether Governor Richardson has figured out an original campaign theme.

Two of the dominant memes in the Democratic primary are experience versus change. Hillary Clinton is supposed to represent experience, and Barack Obama is supposed to represent change. Bill Richardson's leaflet reads "Experience and Change." Sounds like he is trying to have it both ways.

In about six weeks, maximum, he will be back to running the state of New Mexico full-time.

The event was on a Friday night with about 90 to 100 people attending. The event itself was in the library of a small technical college in Nashua. My friend Alan commented that you could tell locals from the campaign staff: the locals wore their boots, while the campaign staff wore shoes.

You could also spot the secret service - they kept their eyes on everyone but the candidate.

The event itself was mind-boggling. If you did not know what it was about and looked at the location and the crowd, you would think that Bill Richardson was this guy running to be a mayor of a small town. He is running to become president of the United States and the most powerful person in the world.

At the end, people went up to shake the Governor's hand and get an autograph on some swag. I was about to do that, but lost my nerve.

Andrew C. Bome is a lawyer practicing in Hamilton with McQuesten Legal & Community Services. He is a self-described trivia and political geek. He traveled to New Hampshire to observe the 2008 Presidential Primary taking place in the 'Granite State'.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted January 07, 2008 at 11:13:46

Andrew,

I've heard it said, by people who seem to know US politics way better than me, that the US will never vote a black man or a woman as President. What do you think about that? The theory is that if Obama or Clinton get the Democratic nod, the Republican (aka another rich white guy) will win. Thoughts?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 07, 2008 at 11:42:05

I know I'm not Andrew, but I'd note that Obama won Iowa - a state that's 97.5% Caucasian - by a large margin. His support base is mainly young people and political independents, but he won nearly every single demographic: affiliation, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, etc.

Obama as presidential candidate would lose some districts, but any Democrat would lose some districts. There's a hard core of maybe 25% of Americans who would vote for a Republican who ate babies on live television (they might grow up to be terrists) before voting for a Democrat.

They tend to be the same people who think the sun revolves around the earth and that both were created a few thousand years ago.

Clinton, by contrast, compares poorly in national polls. Most people just don't seem to like her that much: not because she's a woman, but because she supported and continues to support an unpopular war, refuses to acknowledge that giving Bush a green light to launch the Iraq war was a bad idea, rolled over dead on health care reform, represents the worst excesses of corporate insidership and lobbyist-directed governance, and seems to be dedicated to winning for its own sake rather than to enact an inspiring policy framework.

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By Andrew (registered) | Posted January 07, 2008 at 19:29:55

First of all I would like to thank everyone for reading my post and for taking the time to comment.

Ryan's answer to Rusty was excellent. I just want to add one point. Race is becoming less of an issue in the United States. It has not disappeared as an issue, but it is less important than ever. The change has apparently been quite rapid.

Lawrence Krugman has a discussion of this in his book "the Conscience of a Liberal" and he makes two points.

First polling data is showing that on many of the hot button race issues, less people are racist than ever before. Even with the most sensitive issue (inter-racial marriage) there has been a big difference over a generation. About a generation ago over 40% of America was against inter-racial marriage, whereas now that number is less than 15%; I am working from memory here so my numbers might be a little off.

Secondly those areas where race is an important issue are not democratic states and are not likely to be democrat states for a long time; he was specifically talking about the deep south.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 07, 2008 at 19:37:32

Thanks for your kind words, Andrew.

One note: I think you mean Paul Krugman.

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By Andrew (registered) | Posted January 08, 2008 at 13:10:48

Your Welcome and you are right; memory is the first thing that goes with age.

Cheers Andrew C. Bome

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