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Feeling blue

For well over a century, New Hampshire has been solidly conservative -- if not solidly Republican.

That is coming to an end.

In some ways, I welcome it. I've been a registered independent for most of my life (several years as a Democrat notwithstanding, when I declared to vote for Bill Bradley in 2000 and forgot to un-declare after casting my ballot), and I've always been vaguely suspicious of the Republican power structure in New Hampshire. It seemed that they were divided into two factions -- the "arrogant rich" and the "arrogant stupid." (Judd Gregg remains the titular head of the first faction; the second doesn't have any prominent advocates right now.) For the most part, they did what I thought was right, keeping things mostly in line, but still chafing me on occasion.

Their downfall here, I think, began when the Democrats started running moderate campaigns for governor in the 1990s, while the Republicans kept sending up Arrogant Stupids and Arrogant Riches. It all came to a boil when Craig Benson, co-founder of Cabletron/Enterasys, won the office and pissed off nearly everyone. The Democrats sent up a moderate-to-conservative, and Benson became only the second one-term governor in 78 years.

I voted for in John Lynch in 2004, and again in 2006. I don't regret either vote for that Democrat, either. Benson was a disaster, and Lynch hadn't done anything that made me feel he didn't deserve a second term. (Here in New Hampshire, we think someone should have at least four years as governor, but reserve the right to bounce 'em after two if they screw it up.)

But in 2006, Lynch led a ticket that swept into power. Democrats kept the governorship, added both US House seats, both houses of our legislature, and our Executive Council -- as much to their surprise as anyone else's. (One Democratic Executive Council candidate, John Shea, had so little expectation of winning, he left for a two-week European vacation on election day. He won anyway.) I am convinced that the only reason we still have two Republican senators is because neither Judd Gregg nor John H. Sununu were up for election last year -- but Sununu is up next year.

Now, to me, the smart thing for the new Democratic majority to do would be to start pushing their agenda slowly, incrementally. Their hold on power is solid, but not secured. It could all come unraveled in the next election if they go for too much, too fast.

Which is precisely what they're doing.

This past legislative session has been a big party, fulfilling all the stereotypes of Democrats that the Republicans warned the voters about. The state's budget went up about 11%. Taxes, fees, and other charges all went up. Civil unions for gay couples flew through the legislature and were signed by the governor in a big ceremony. And the state's parental-notification law regarding minors having abortions was repealed.

To pay for that hefty budget hike, the legislature raided the state's education fund surplus, the self-insurance surplus, and the state's rainy-day fund. It instituted a statewide property tax, hiked vehicle registration fees, raised the cigarette tax, the phone tax, jacked up hunting permits, and instituted a fee for court filings.

Any one of these moves can be argued individually. Hell, I rejoiced at the civil unions bill, and don't have much of a problem with the cigarette tax. I thought the parental-notification law was a good idea, but it had been ruled unenforceable by the courts anyway.

But to ram them all through all at once, to attempt to check off pretty much everything on the Democrats' "wish list" in the first six months of their two years guaranteed term, is a hell of a big pill to swallow. A lot of New Hampshirites are going to choke on that one.

I think I might be one of them.

Politically, I like to describe myself as a "militant moderate, with libertarian and libertine leanings." I also like to believe that a great number of my fellow Granite Staters share my general leanings (while differing on particulars). And I just don't think that the Democrats' moves will go down with the voting populace.

At this rate, I feel fairly safe predicting that if the Democrats continue passing all the items on their agenda, the Republicans will reclaim enough offices to retake a good chunk of what they lost last year. And with luck, both state parties will have been properly chastened and act a bit more sensibly.

But these are, after all, politicians. They probably won't do that.

You don't have to take my word for it. Here's an account of the state budget, on the parental-notification laws, and (horror of horrors) a Boston Globe overview of the whole situation.


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Comments (22)

So, how'd that parental-not... (Below threshold)

So, how'd that parental-notification lawsuit go, anyway? I know kids can't get fricken aspirin without parental consent nowadays, nevermind any real medical procedures, but abortions are specifically protected?

I doubt it'll get better, though. You've got blue creep from Boston.

I've always wondered what g... (Below threshold)

I've always wondered what goes through the mind of a modern politician. I mean, what ever happened to making decisions that will affect the electorate based upon what is good for the state or nation, instead of ramming down the party's agenda? What ever happened to making decisions because it's the right thing to do, instead of the politically expedient thing to do?

This is why I loathe both political parties. I believe that the majority of the currently elected politicians are far more interested in their own power, and that of their party, instead of representing the people that got them there. Frankly, this is a sad state of affairs that we find ourselves in.

I suspect they'll self limi... (Below threshold)

I suspect they'll self limit themselves by managing to piss off the populace that ignored their entrance with their eagerness to take from those that have to give to those that whine.

In Indiana, it's usually im... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

In Indiana, it's usually impossible to tell the Republicans from the Democrats. And they *never* identify themselves by party in their tv ads. Dem Indy mayor Bart Peterson is running for re-election this year, virtually unopposed, as a "fiscal conservative." And Bayh has been more of a lapdog for Bush than Lugar ever was.

Of course some districts are solid Dem (like Indy's Julia Carson or Gary's Pete Visclosky) or Pub (like Dan Burton or my own Mike Pence) but the other 5 are usually up for grabs, and there, moderation is the name of the game.

Why are "Raising Taxes and ... (Below threshold)
Chris G:

Why are "Raising Taxes and Increasing Spending" something Democrats run on. An even better question would be why is this something that Democrat voters demand?

Is it because when Democrats run on "raising taxes on the rich", they don't disclose the fact that while the tax system is progressive as to income, it is inclusive of almost everyone. Including the "Working poor" if you will. Are people really that dumb as to think only the rich pay for tax increases. Is it unknown that the middle class (Upper and lower) pay for taxes for income, property, investsments, and fees for driver's licenses and utilities. Are people that freakin' dumb?

I would almost bet that about 10% of the budget is lost on fraud, waste, or abuse within the beauracracy anyway.. Why not run on " We will run te government like a business to ensure maximum efficiency?" Or is it impossible to adaquately pander with that one.

While not in New Hampshire,... (Below threshold)

While not in New Hampshire, I think another reason for the overall decline of support for the GOP there, as well as across the country (at least according to the polls), is traceable to one very direct cause:

President George W. Bush.

Seriously. The GOP put everything into backing Bush, and the Republican-led Senate and Congress basically rubber-stamped everything Bush and Karl Rove wanted from 9/11 until the GOP got booted out of the Senate and Congress in 2006. So the GOP is now reaping the harvest of this monolithic support, by being tied to a voter backlash against George Bush's failing policies.

And this is just. The GOP supported Bush when he was up; now they are taking it on the chin with him as he's going down.

Jay TeaYou sound e... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea

You sound ecstatic about New Hampshire turning into Mini-Mass. Sit back and enjoy the long, endless ride down.

Just think, your 14-year-old daughter may is getting an abortion right now. But you won't know about it, because its none of your business. After all its a private matter. isn't it.

"Their hold on power is sol... (Below threshold)

"Their hold on power is solid, but not secured. It could all come unraveled in the next election if they go for too much, too fast."

NH is at a crossroads. Does NH succumb to being an extension of the peoples progressive republic of mASS, maintain the status quo, or go back to a moderate libertarian environment.

My opinion is that with the Shea-Porter type moonbats yapping and more mASS. refugees flooding NH like it's the Mexican border, NH is going to have a severe case of BLUE tide.

Jim spouts the DNC talking ... (Below threshold)

Jim spouts the DNC talking points like a good little boy. I would not crow about democrats. The congressional leadership is at a lower poll number then GW. Wow. If you get excited about GW's poll numbers you must be crazy about the democrats. I think 2008 is up for grabs. I think most of the moderate voters are tired equally of both parties. It is just wishful thinking that it is all on the republicans.

Yay! GW just commuted Libby's sentence. Kim are you there? What's up? ww

Benson was a 'disaster'? Do... (Below threshold)

Benson was a 'disaster'? Do you want to elaborate on that please?

Perhaps he cut the funds off for too too many, which is what we elected him to do.

He was the BEST.

We are going to vote the bums out in '08 because they are scumifying NH.

As for the Parental Notific... (Below threshold)

As for the Parental Notification Law, that is just the first step in the communistic abilities of the state who has more right over your child than you do...

Slowly they will take away your family rights and soon they will be requiring an RFID chip to be injected and you won't be able to do a damned thing about it!

The state owns your child in NH...all because of a few bad parents, like .01% or something.

And make that 10 -- yes some girls can get pregnant at 10 but you will never find out who the perpetrator was...

Just listen to this if you want to get sickened.

And Bayh has been ... (Below threshold)
John in CA:
And Bayh has been more of a lapdog for Bush than Lugar ever was.

Well, according to the ACU ratings Bayh is a liberal by ever sense of the word judging by his voting record:

2006 16
2005 20
Lifetime 20.8

He might masquerade as a moderate and Bush lapdog but his record indicates otherwise.

Wildwillie,that's great new... (Below threshold)

Wildwillie,that's great news,I'm watching CBS news,for comedy purposes only,and the male reporter says he did some research on commuted sentences,giving a number for each recent pres,Nixon did it,Carter did it,Reagan,but no mention of Clinton or how many sentences he commuted,great research,this is why the MSM is a joke.

John, he made sure he was f... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

John, he made sure he was front and center for one of Bush's Rose Garden pep talks before the invasion and he was just full of hawkish pronouncements about how we just had to take out Saddam before he took out us...

Of course now he's turned around 180 degrees. A regularly midwestern Hillary...

Paul Hamilton, you could be... (Below threshold)

Paul Hamilton, you could be describing CA (Ultra) Democrat Dianne Feinstein as to that statement there about NH's Bayh.

I mean by that, a LOT of Senators stood with Bush as to the War in Iraq, and also used national security and support for our military ("we support the troops" became the Democrats' main statement last two years).

It didn't mean they did, however, just that they made a big deal out of the publicity.

And, I think perhaps Jay Tea is suffering voter burnout, like a lot of us. Eventually, one reaches a loss of illusion as to both if not any and all political parties, with enough voting experience.

But the one thing I will never understand is why some voters say they'll jump out of the rowboat because they lost the oars -- a Republican in office is disillusioning, so they opt to vote for a Democrat even when they don't support the Democratic Party platform.

About Bush, if there are any remaining naive voters out there who still cling to the window dressing that he's a Conservative, please let it go: Bush is a Liberal and has been doing a very great deal in ensuring a Democrat majority in the Senate, and, I also think he's intent on a Clinton in the White House. He's done a lot to ruin voter confidence (saying "a lot" is putting it mildly) as to Conservatives, but that isn't reason in my view to suspect other Conservatives, UNLESS a voter examines each candidate's positions on key issues.

It just takes more time to look specifically at each candidate as to positions instead of just going "hail, [political party here]."

BUT, the two major Parties are different in platform and that's what keeps me voting Republican. I can't support the Democratic Party by platform and it does matter in the Presidency (I still think it does).

The GOP has wandered erroneously into Liberal territory and has done all the rest that Bush has not done in irritating if not insulting Conservative voters. The problem for Republicans today is the RNC and the Senate RINOs, all Liberals in the mold of the Bush-Liberal (still Liberal, still not representing the issues as Conservativse who voted for them expected they would and it hurts future candidates accordingly among Republicans).

End of my story...didn't expect to be this winded.

And, in CA, a vote for a De... (Below threshold)

And, in CA, a vote for a Democrat is the equivalent of a vote for Mexico's Communist Party (since become California's). The political machines in CA suffer some sort of brain freeze because they all seem to think that no Conservative nor even Moderate voters remain in the state. Thus, the only candidate in CA from any political party is a Socialist, if not Communist.

Jay, if you voted for socia... (Below threshold)

Jay, if you voted for socialists (which is what NH Democrats are) then I don't understand the admission that you are a "militant moderate, with libertarian and libertine leanings". A true Libertarian is right of either fiscal or social conservatives and just to the left of the anarchist "every man for themselves" types. And certainly, a Libertarian is about as polar opposite of a Democrat and what is going on in NH as you can get.

Of course, maybe you don't understand the definition of Libertarian. That being someone who wants government as much out of the lives of the individual as possible. Taking people's money, mandating that parents have no rights, government undermining the institution of marriage, etc. ALL of these are anti-libertarian schemes. Libertarians are against government meddling in the lives of the individual but recognize the need for some level of social order (the difference between the aforementioned anarchist and a libertarian).

But, like I said, maybe you have a liberal view of what it means to be a libertarian. We have one of those down here in Atanta. Neil Boortz goes on all day long about his libertarianism but loves to promote forcing the teaching of evolution on school kids attending public schools. Go figure.

Wildwillie, I fixed your co... (Below threshold)

Wildwillie, I fixed your comment:

Wildwillie spouts the RNC talking points like a good little boy. I would not crow about republicans....I think most of the moderate voters are tired equally of Republicans.

OF COURSE moderates are tir... (Below threshold)

OF COURSE moderates are tired of Republicans, they are always "tired" of something; Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, liberals, whatever. They're tired of bickering, infighting, politics, etc., etc., etc. Self-styled moderates love to proclaim themselves "above the fray", this is what makes them feel superior.

However, scratch a moderate and under the shallow exterior you will find typically find one or more of the following characteristics:

-no convictions
-mixed up convictions

Most of the "moderates" I have known fall into the second category. They call themselves "moderate" when in fact they believe in a bunch of liberal stuff, some conservative stuff, some libertarian stuff, some fascist stuff, some anarchist stuff. Because they can't make up their minds they just call it "moderate".


Moved from MA to NH and vot... (Below threshold)

Moved from MA to NH and voted for Lynch, mainly because I knew Benson. Seacoast NH has always been blueish with Poersmouth & Exeter but immigration from MA has exacerbated the situation. At least we're not like Maine with their 2 RINO senators.

Speaking of Gregg, he is dead to me as my senator. Voted with Bush & McCain on immigration but was so gutless about it that his staffers claimed ignorance of his position right up until the vote. He voted early (alphabetically) doubtless thinking that the measure would prevail. He needs to pay the price. I'd even vot D if need be to get him out.

Beeblebrox: Yup, got Jim pe... (Below threshold)

Beeblebrox: Yup, got Jim perfectly profiled.

Philw: "I'd even vote D if need be to get him out."

I'd think again about that.

I understand the emotion, but that's just stupid!

I live in Bedford on a larg... (Below threshold)

I live in Bedford on a large piece of land. The cops came by because a neighbor complained about our tiny fireworks "show" (9:45 pm)we were having in the backyard. This is the first time in 4 years we've had a complaint.

The officer seemed embarassed - fireworks going off all over in surrounding towns etc - and said they don't normally look for people - only respond to neighbor complaints.

Ever since moving up here from MA 4 years ago I've observed a dramatic shift from "Live Free or Die" to "The Nanny State." We had a rep recently propose fining people for releasing helium balloons for Chrissakes! And of course folks can't smoke in their own restaurants.

Let's just rename the place North Massachusetts and get it over with.






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