Wednesday, January 2, 2008

In New Hampshire with the Candidates

I grew up in Indiana, which never received any attention in presidential elections because everyone knew the state would always go Republican, no matter what. Any lame-brained Republican could win there. My family always voted for the Democrats, and thus my family was always disappointed. But it was never ever surprised.

When I lived in Massachusetts, it was the same thing, only reversed. We got no attention in presidential elections because we were always going to vote for the Democrat, and everyone knew it. A Democratic corpse would've gotten more votes than a Republican in Massachusetts, and to my way of thinking, after wandering in the cultural and political wasteland of Indiana, that was just fine. In fact, I loved it.

Now I live in New Hampshire, and my license plate says "Live Free or Die." (I dislike this quite a bit, but never mind that.) New Hampshire likes to think of itself as flinty and independent, a state where high-minded ideals never get in the way of practical, cheapskate decisions. It's a state on the fence - Democratic in the last election, but Republican in the more general sense. Contrarian, difficult. If you were in a fight with New Hampshire, it would definitely aim low.

So this is what it's like in New Hampshire right now: Obama for President calls twice a night and leaves messages. Hillary Clinton for President calls every three days to poll me again. John Edwards calls once a week just to let me know he's still thinking about me. In today's mail, we got two identical fliers from Obama, one from Rudy Guiliani, and one from John McCain. Two weeks ago we got a annual-report sized piece from John Edward (who looked very fetching, by the way, with his shirtsleeves rolled up, ready to physically attack the deficit, slay the corporate elites and slug it out for the poor.)

The desperation is mounting. Who will I vote for? Who, who, who? I've got an idea, but the truth is, I've wanted to delay all this anxiety until the very end - like worrying about a particularly nasty outpatient procedure that comes every few years like clockwork. It won't kill you, but it will be painful. And a little humiliating, for all concerned.

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