Nearly two weeks and two states ago now, the rain and mist were swirling outside the non-heated New Hampshire VFW in Raymond… but the assembled crowd did not seem to mind. Bit by bit the small hall filled; folks found seats down in front or back behind the small platform of cameras and tripods. Since I am not a resident of the Granite State, but an interloper from across the state line (from, actually, many states lines away, being the Indiana daughter of blue collar Chicagoland Democrats), to my relief the journalists twice chose the occupants of the seat next to mine for interviews.
The anticipation grew very quietly as we waited for John Kasich, a man running for President of the United States, to emerge from behind patriotic panels of red and blue. I almost wrote “the excitement grew” but that doesn’t quite capture the mood in the room. These were serious folks who’d come out in poor weather, at high noon, on a weekday. Many hold as a point of pride the privacy of their vote and the option to decide once in the voting booth. They are on-the-issue people.
But suddenly there he was, a presidential candidate, poking his head out and coming to the crowd. The comfortable country music faded, the host bid us to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Governor from Ohio took over the small platform stage. For the better part of the next hour he gave remarks and took thoughtful questions. What shall we do about extending care to those who suffer, he asked rhetorically, but then rephrased this: how do we care for those who experience disabilities? He answered this one with the care I think he dares to bring to his day job back home.
Others wondered about the moose whose numbers are falling, and health care, entitlements, jobs, college debt… all these issues came tumbling out with respect and seemingly little tolerance for pundits, backstabbing and the media circus which is being created or fed or both on way too many screens in our homes each and every evening.
Soon it was time to find our way out, having had the privilege of seeing freedom and democracy in action. No matter whether you agree, no matter your job(s) or lack thereof: you have a voice and the right to use it. I hope many people make, find, or create time to go to the polls this year. The gifts of time and our right to vote aren’t without cost nor come delivered to our door. I feel an Americanism on the rise in me, and it hope you feel yours doing the same in you.