You know what I’m not in the mood for? Midterm elections. 2014 has caught me in a foul political temper, and my early 2004 self is very disappointed. He was the guy who loved every political twist and turn, relished the gamesmanship of the two party system, who went to Faneuil Hall from 11 pm to 2 am every night during the Democratic National Convention and talked on live television with Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough. Fast forward ten years and I can’t watch msnbc anymore. My position on this is justified and correct and I won’t apologize for it, but that doesn’t mean the loss of talking-head glee and the opportunity to shout at the television and hear that wonderful election theme every couple of years and that rush of dopamine– well, let’s just say it’s left a gaping hole in my life.
It’s worse than that, though. I can’t listen to NPR. Shit, I can’t even read the Nation. It’s that bad. I hate the democrats, man, and it bums me out. The prospect of republicans taking over the US Senate still sickens me nonetheless, and I’ll tell you right now (go on, leftists, throw it at me) I’m probably going to reluctantly do some voting, and it’s probably going to involve a democrat or two. But I’m going to do so knowing exactly how damn useless they are. It makes me very tired.
I don’t want to be tired. I want to like politics. I want to be excited about a big election. But none of us are able always to control when the party ends or the carousel stops, and only drunks and the perennially off-base are inclined to continue unabated as though nothing has changed. There’s no one I can in good conscience root for, in 2014 and most likely in 2016, too. The rottenness and mendacity are already set too thick to possibly be whittled away in so short a period of time. I may want every republican to be defeated and embarrassed, I may be able to choose among them certain particular villains for whom I can conjure up a little extra venom or hate, but I can’t say I’m super concerned about it. We lived through Bush, didn’t we? And most days it feels like we’re still living under Bush, which is a big part of my problem.
(Interestingly, my late-2004 self would actually be quite proud. After Kerry lost, I realized there was no hope for electoral politics in the American republic, and that there was no hope for the two-party system or capitalism itself. I went hard commie, started reading Marx and plotting a way to get out of the country (it’s harder than you think if you’re not rich). I was still pretty young and didn’t stay with it consistently during the intervening years, wandering away from traditional leftism to experiment here or dabble there like a lapsed Catholic reading Deepak Chopra and James Redfield, only to come running back, sobbing and apologetic.)
The conundrum lies in the fact that despite my pessimism and lack of good sportsmanship, I’m way too much of a political junkie to sit this one out. Still, if listening to me tell you on a weekly basis how terrible both parties are doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, that’s cool. It’s not my idea of a good time, either. Instead of wasting words making you and me depressed – as if we’d need any help with that – I’ve got an idea.
The mysterious dark continent of New Hampshire politics
One time, back in the depths of ancient history that is 2012, I tried listening to a NH gubernatorial debate on the radio. I was all excited. I still worked at that horrible place where I was perennially desperate for any sort of distraction, and was filled with glee to hear that there would be a morning debate on a weekday on the radio, which I could stream on my Kindle. Earbuds in, coffee at the ready, I was fully prepared to stare blankly at my computer screen pretending to work while engaging my mind in the delight of a debate. Maggie Hassan, the democrat who ultimately won, seemed so cool in contrast to her weirdo empty suit predecessor, “democrat” John Lynch, and her opponent, whose name I can’t even remember (Lamontagne? Maybe my memory’s better than I thought) seemed so lame that this was sure to be a good show.
I lasted fifteen minutes before switching to music. Maybe it was the fact that I had to listen to a democrat, fresh out of her opening statement, rush frothing at the mouth to declare her opposition to taxes, because New Hampshire. I decided to opt out of spending the full hour listening to symbolic posturing layered over an argument that essentially boiled down to a minor philosophical difference over how to manage a state with no budget and run a state government with very limited power. Beyond boring. Minor league shit.
My complicated relationship with my adopted home state, as I detailed thoroughly a year and a half ago, is no secret. I may not hate New Hampshire anymore, I may love certain things about it, but part of that complicated relationship is the fact that I refuse to actually admit that it’s my adopted home state, especially when it comes to politics. I was born and raised in Massachusetts, and though I’ve more or less lived here in the Granite State for the last decade, I still follow Massachusetts politics, even local politics, as though it were still my own. The only real exception came last January, when buffoon major general state senator Andy Sanborn pissed me off by threatening a pro-marijuana college student and I wrote him an open letter, ultimately reprinted in the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, demanding that he resign (he didn’t listen to me).
Let’s face it, NH politics is hard. Most of you probably don’t know much more about it than I do. Why is the fourth largest legislature in the world (or something like that) required to govern a state that has no budget because it has no sales or income tax? Why is a heavy-snowfall state so averse to adequately funding things like, you know, snow plowing? Or…schools? What the eff is an Executive Council, why do we vote for them, and what do they do that 424 elected representatives and a governor can’t do? Why do we have to vote for governors every two years? How did they manage to gerrymander a state with only two congressional districts? Why is Scott Brown here?
Okay, that last one was a joke – I think we all know the answer to that one. Scott Brown thinks as little of NH politics as I do. After getting wholesale schooled in the big leagues of Massachusetts in 2012, he thinks he can come here and be a star in triple-A. (And if that notion offends you, good. It should. RTs are not endorsements; I’m just telling you what the man is thinking.)
But as for the rest of the questions, you probably don’t know much better than I do. So instead of writing weekly bummers about how much everything sucks, we’re going to take some time and learn about Granite State politics together. We’ll spotlight certain races, explore statewide issues without being too judgmental (I’ll try, anyway), and maybe even talk directly to candidates, if any be so bold as to grant a political interview with one such as the Wizard of Monadnock. Got anything in particular you’d like to learn about? Any candidates you’d like to meet or examine? Comment on this post, tweet @monadnockwizard, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you do know more about these things than I do – I mean, somebody’s gotta pay attention to politics in this state, right? – I’ll need your help as well. Where’s the interesting shit at? Who do I want to talk to? What are the things that the voting public wants to know that nobody else is telling them?
Gonna need everybody’s help on this one – but if we all pull together, we might just get through these midterms in one piece, and with at least 87.5% of our collective sanity intact.
Hard to ask for much more than that.