Paul Hodes is running to be one of New Hampshire's senators. I don't know how they got my name, I'm a registered Democrat and I contributed a small amount to the Obama campaign so it could have been from either of those sources.
It was a nice event, about fifty people turned up, the crowd skewed to the older side. I decided to wear a shirt and tie and was pretty overdressed. A couple of people asked if I worked for the campaign. I sat in the back, which is my usual MO, especially in situations where I have no idea what I'm doing. It was held at a local theater/restaurant/pub called Chunky's, they served drinks and spaghetti and salad. I decided long ago that I hate Chunky's food but this is the best meal I've had there.
Congressman Hodes started out the event with a speech. His main points were partisan standbys. Now I'm about as liberal as they come but I like to think I'm pretty well informed. He discussed how the Republican Party wants to privatize social security, end medicare and extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Partially true but two out of three are politically dead ideas and the tax cut extension is probably a no go unless Obama gets convinced to go along for some bizarre reason. I personally would have liked to see something a little more nuanced but when I take a tour of the comments section of any Yahoo story on politics I understand what he's up against.
To be a political candidate in this day and age you have to tailor your message to the masses and the masses just aren't paying attention or taking that extra second to take a look on Snopes before they get outraged and pass along a completely false story. Regardless it would be refreshing to have a politician who feels free to be a little more subtle and thought provoking when they are talking to people outside of DC. What is so impressive about Obama is that he was so popular and can still speak plainly and clearly about complex issues. I wish the Democratic party would just adopt this as a universal campaign principal. Unfortunately "well we tried to tell you" party probably isn't in America's future anytime soon.
The Q&A was fantastic, that was when you really got to see Congressman Hodes in action. The crowd was pretty knowledgeable, I sat next to a teacher with two masters degrees. Her main concern and question was about monitoring the mercenaries in Iraq. There were other questions about jobs, health insurance and a little foreign policy. One man was concerned about Israel's response to the Iranian nuclear program. I asked about the economy, specifically what can be done to reduce structural unemployment. Representative Hodes actually gave a pretty good answer, he talked about improving the educational system, reducing the cost of student loans and introducing more programs where public service would provide money for education. I'm a big fan of programs like the Stafford Loan forgiveness program so I thought it was a decent answer.
I'd like to thank Congressman Hodes and his campaign for inviting me to the event today, I know he's polling well below his probable competitors but when a botched Sarah Palin endorsement is on your likely opponent's resume how can you give up easily? Seriously read that link, Sarah is God's gift to comedians. So Paul, here's hoping that you win in November. At the end I asked his local campaign manager what kind of volunteer opportunities there are and he said "everything" so I'll see if there's anything I can do as we get closer to election day.
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