It sounds like the movers and shakers in the Granite State have gotten themselves into a snit over next year’s primary calendar again. The Boston Globe was reporting this weekend that New Hampshire’s top political honchos are “freaking out” over all of the primary calendar changes and alternate voting schemes, seeing this as an erosion of their importance. Some fear that their state will now become a FINO… First in Name Only.
For 100 years, New Hampshire’s primary has fashioned itself as a gauntlet for wannabe leaders of the free world, putting candidates through their paces in intimate coffee shops, house parties, and town hall meetings intended to flesh out who has the mettle to lead the party and, perhaps, the nation.
But instead of celebrating this milestone — scheduled to take place one year from Monday — the state’s political pooh-bahs are expressing unprecedented anxiety. While the state is on track to host the first presidential primary in 2020, it might be less relevant than ever.
“There are a number of us freaking out,” said a former state senator, Andrew Hosmer, a Democrat who now serves on the Laconia City Council. “The concern is that this is becoming more of a national primary and that New Hampshire might only serve as a small part of that.”
The specific fear being expressed here probably isn’t going to draw too much sympathy from anyone except possibly some people in Iowa. The idea that “New Hampshire might only serve as a small part” of the primary process should be seen as a totally natural state of affairs. That’s because New Hampshire is “only a small” state to begin with. Granted, we want the small states to have a voice in the process, but there are a lot more small states than just New Hampshire and Iowa.
This “freak out” was totally predictable, however. I touched on this subject when we learned that California was moving up their primary date. They’re not trying to go before New Hampshire, but when you add in all of their early voting options, a significant number of people will already have voted by then and candidates will no doubt factor that into their campaign plans. If too many of them are spending most of their time and money on the left coast next January, New Hampshire’s influence will indeed be reduced.
As to these Granite State leaders being worried that the process is turning into a “national primary,” it’s a valid concern but I’m afraid that horse has already left the barn. Even in Congress, elections and how our elected officials conduct themselves has become a more nationalized situation. The days of members veering off and voting on specific items as they best serve their constituents is largely over. It’s more of a big football game at this point, with the two “teams” fighting each other to move the perceived political ball down the field.
I could launch into yet another rant here about how New Hampshire and Iowa need to get over the idea that they’re the most important states in the nation, but we’ve already been through it countless times. The political parties are changing, the national climate is tenser and everyone is going to have to adapt to the new conditions on the ground. For better or worse, it’s just the way of the world.