By Dillon Mulhern
“This land is not for profit that’s [expletive], get off it,” chants ran through the frigid February air like battle cries. A wall of security held off a sea of Bernie Sanders supporters, so many that you forgot that it was a two candidate debate. Production trailers lined the streets and sidewalks, humming with power, awaiting the 9 PM start time. Sirens pierced the air as a trio of white hummers speed down the streets with their police escort, 20 minutes before air time. At 9 PM the Candidates took the stage for the first head to head Democratic Debate of the 2016 primary, live from Durham, New Hampshire.
In New Hampshire we have the unique opportunity of being able to see the candidates and attend their events consistently before the primary, a fact we take for granite. I have been able to attend three candidate rallies without even having to get in a car, an opportunity unheard of in most other states. This is made possible by a law mandating that the NH primary be scheduled a week before any other similar event. The Iowa caucus isn’t a considered a similar event, for reasons just as confusing as the Iowa caucus itself.
The Democratic debate was held at Johnson Auditorium at UNH prior to the primary, students and faculty of UNH were invited to be entered in a raffle, with no opportunity for locals to obtain tickets. Arabelle Reece (‘16), Gigi Reece (‘18), Maise Cook (18’), and Libby Nichols (17’) attended the Democratic Debate in Durham by waiting outside the event, where extra tickets were handed out to those waiting outside the event.
For those who don’t know, a primary is a party based election that determines what candidate the respective parties endorse for the presidential election. Voters must be 18 years old in New Hampshire in order to cast a vote, making a majority of the school ineligible for the primary. But come November, many of the upper classmen will have the power to vote. Hopefully they will make an educated vote, instead of scribbling Turd Fergeson in the write-in.
“The state [New Hampshire] is ground zero for political action. I’d argue that it’s more active than Iowa, and it has a more powerful connection to politics than any other state,” said Dave Hawley, a social studies teacher at ORHS. We are truly in a unique situation where candidates and other political figures flock to the state, and as citizens we have the opportunity to ask them questions. We’ve had numerous people visit UNH and even an active President (Obama) visit our school. The opportunities for being politically active are numerous. The debate 4.5 million viewers watched Hillary and Bernie debate for two hours, live from Johnson Auditorium in Durham. We are one of the smaller states, both in size and population, but the political power we hold far surpass that of most others.
“I think it’s incredibly important for students, particularly in New Hampshire, to be politically active. As young people, it’s our responsibility to shift political dialogue to one which reflects our interests and concerns,” said Abby Colby, an alumna of ORHS and an employee of 350 Climate, a Super PAC that tries to raise awareness of current environmental concerns.
As I’m sure you have already heard, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump have won the primary in New Hampshire. Though I am disappointed to find that a candidate such as Trump has gained such a following in my home states, I guess democracy has spoken. The win for Sanders in NH helps to build up momentum for his campaign as he approaches other primaries. Candidates see NH as a stepping stone for the party nomination.
“I think it’s good to be outspoken and show interest in a candidate” said Tyler Mckenna (18’), an avid Donald Trump supporter. Knowing the issues which are important to you and finding the candidate whose ideology closely matches yours is an essential part of voting.
The logic of ‘I can’t vote in the primary so I can’t do anything’ is faulted at the core.
“I believe that there are many ways to make a difference politically, not just by voting. An example of that would be canvassing for a candidate, or by asking questions. Just because students can’t vote doesn’t mean they shouldn’t care, because it is still going to affect them.” said Lauren Quest (18’). Quest recently ‘bird-dogged’ Hillary Clinton at a local rally. Bird-dogging is the practice of asking questions during rallies that Candidates have dodged in the past.
“Being politically active makes sure our leaders are held accountable for their actions…in New Hampshire, we have a lot of access to candidates as they visit and try and get our votes,” said Nick Dundorf (‘18).
If you haven’t attended any political events, well sadly after the polls closed on 2/9 New Hampshire became as obsolete in the political world as frosted tips after the 90’s. But knowing the issues, and advocating for their resolution can better this country. For those who will be 18 come November, going out and exercising your right to vote is probably the most American thing you can do.