Tracking the political nonsense

We all would be served better by discussing reforms that could address issues responsibly

Watching the political scene in New Hampshire this spring has been a little jarring for a number of reasons. Of course, President Trump and his antics never cease to amaze everyone, and his various actions can be predicted, with the majority horrified by his casual regard for facts, and a minority apparently immune.

However, on the other side of the fence, Democratic political hopefuls and proposals have been providing a lot of nonsense as well.

This writer has begun to attend events where would-be presidents make statements and answer questions. Some of what they say is incomprehensible, such as Bernie Sanders’ statement on CNN, that even incarcerated felons should have the right to vote, including the Boston Marathon bomber and others. What nonsense — and, more importantly, who cares? This must be an issue on the minds of at least three voters nationally, so why does Sanders feel the need to unburden himself on such a topic and, further, make such a dumb statement? There is a legitimate debate on whether paroled offenders who have done their time should be able to vote, but that’s a different question.

Along the line of crazy ideas, the Medicare-for-All plans, the Green New Deal, with its expressed purpose of ending fossil fuel use almost immediately, and paying off all college debt, are impractical, extreme and would bring the economy to a halt and wreck it with further deficit spending. With record deficits and debt, we cannot afford what we are doing now! We all would be served better by discussing reforms that  could address the issues responsibly.

At one “Politics and Eggs” event, a member of the audience asked Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, who declared the day before, if Social Security’s predicted shortfall should be paid from the general revenues.

To his credit, Moulton did not pander or take the bait. He said in a straightforward manner that the general fund has no money to pay for Social Security or almost anything else, but there are ways to fix Social Security, such as removing the cap on wages subject to the Social Security tax and making a couple of other adjustments which would repair the system and preserve it for the foreseeable future.

Good for him. An answer that was realistic, faced the facts and did not just agree with the questioner’s position, which unfortunately too many other candidates do.

Speaking of strange conversations, and apparent nonsense, the entire debate about college students voting in New Hampshire is mystifying. All of the pious words about “voter suppression mask” what is really going on.

Several simple questions reveal the political aims of the college student voting issue, whatever one’s voting persuasion might be. Consider:

1. Where do most out-of-state college students going to college in New Hampshire come from? Answer: Massachusetts or other surrounding states.

2. How do most college students vote? Answer: Democratic

3. For what presidential candidate do the states from which the students come vote? Answer: usually the Democrats.

4. If the college students voted in their home states, would they make any difference in the outcome? Answer: no.

From the answers to those questions, the real purpose can be seen. New Hampshire is a swing state in presidential elections. While it only has four electoral votes, they can be important. The goal is to allow the college students to vote here where it might make a difference.

Certainly, there are college students who vote Republican and there are some out-of-state college students who legitimately should be able to vote in New Hampshire. If they have a year-long lease, reside in the community, they should be able to vote. However, college students residing in dormitories are there fewer than half the days of the year, and, in this writer’s opinion, should vote — but not in Durham, New Hampshire, it should be where they
live.

By dressing the issue up, people make great theory out of it and now we have presidential candidates running around the state accusing Governor Sununu somehow of “suppressing the vote” in New Hampshire. At least people should be honest about what is going on here.

And so, as the campaign heats up, listen carefully to what these people are saying. It might amaze you. But don’t worry, it probably will get worse.

Brad Cook, a shareholder in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass & Green, heads its government relations and estate planning groups.

Categories: Cook on Concord

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