Tuesday, January 08, 2008
I've really been missing New Hampshire lately. I lived there for 11 years, from just after graduation from law school until Caroline was 2 1/2. I really loved living there, but we decided to return to California because both Roger's and my families are here and we wanted Caroline to know her grandparents and aunts and uncles and all.
Still, I miss New Hampshire, and especially at this time of hear. Maybe it's typical of displaced Californians, but I never tired of the snow. I LOVED the snow. (Roger, on the other hand, hated it... so it's unlikely we'll return for more than short visits. Dang.)
When I first got to New Hampshire, I had very little interest in politics. Sure, I read the paper and voted and tried to keep myself reasonably informed to make choices about candidates and issues. But in New Hampshire, politics are all around you all the time, and no more so than when the national primaries roll around every 4 years. It seemed silly to me at first -- what was this little teeny state doing, thinking it was such a big deal? But then I saw how people in New Hampshire feel directly connected to the political process. They are proud of their participation in the process and genuinely believe that their showing up at rallies and talking to candidates and getting out to vote will make a difference. And in New Hampshire, I realized that I could meet candidates I wanted to meet. During campaign season, the local paper ran a daily column listing who was where, so you could find the candidates you wanted to see. I worked in the state capitol, and I remember how right before the primary it got so I'd watch out for big clumps of people on the street when I was dashing out to get lunch, because it meant there was a candidate hidden in a crowd of press people.
Watching the new coverage of the New Hampshire primary right now reminds me that it was that time in New Hampshire that really taught me the power of individual participation in government. Because of my time there, I still feel that I can make a difference. It may be a bit harder to get access to government here, but now I know it's possible and that it's just a matter of making an effort to seek people out. I've learned that when it's possible, meeting face to face with someone can make a huge difference. I've called up school board members and city council members to make appointments to talk face to face when I'm concerned about something.
Anyway, today I'm thinking of my friends in New Hampshire braving the cold and the crowds of reporters to get out and vote. I wish I were there today. It'll be a few weeks before we here in California get to vote. But I'll be right there at the polling place, checking my boxes.