The New Hampshire Zoo
UCOMM’s Brian Young hung out in New Hampshire on Primary weekend and what he witnessed should scare the shit out of you.
The results are in and sadly hate, intolerance and bigotry won on the Republican side. Circus clown Donald Trump came out big, mobilizing racist and stupid people to the polls to earn 35% of the GOP vote. On the good guy’s side, New Hampshire felt the Bern with Senator Sanders bringing in 60% of the Democratic vote. UCOMM’s Brian Young was in New Hampshire to witness first-hand the craziness of our for-sale American political system. Pull up a chair and grab a drink because the following is a long one.. but a must read if you want to survive the real-life modern-day Hunger Games. – Kris LaGrange
Every four years’ voters in New Hampshire are given the privilege and responsibility of hosting the first in the nation presidential primary. With New Hampshire being such a small state, elections look a little different then they do in New York, California or just about any other state. Over the last few months’ candidates on both sides have been talking to voters in small, intimate settings trying to win over voters with their visions for America. I went up to see what they had to say on important issues.
On the Democratic side, voters are lucky. Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton touted their records on working class issues and laid out concise plans for the future. At a Clinton rally, attended by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, Clinton talked about changing the rules that pay women $.75 on the dollar for the same work as men. She also laid out a plan to reduce college debt and promised to strengthen the Affordable Care Act to ensure that quality healthcare continues to be provided to all.
Senator Bernie Sanders had a strong populist message. Sanders spoke at a rally in a near blizzard to hundreds of voters, some supporters and some undecided, about his vision for a political revolution that raises taxes on millionaires, taxes on Wall St. and raises the minimum wage to $15/hr. Voters both young and old were clearly excited for the Senators strong stance on protecting the middle class. Both candidates had strong support, energized crowds and clear visions for the future.
On the Republican side, the picture was not as rosy. Our trip started off with a visit to a Marco Rubio rally. The Florida Senator is being touted as a front runner for the Republican nomination. Rubio’s main message was that President Obama has committed an 8-year conspiracy to weaken America. By the end of the speech, Rubio was sounding more like Donald Trump and less like a real contender for President. During his speech it became quite clear that Rubio was a little more than an empty suit simply trying to score political points by attacking the President and his other Republican candidates. Since Rubio lacks a real record of accomplishments, his nearly hour long speech was light on policy proposals and instead relied on letting the audience know how bad America is under President Obama.
The Republicans didn’t get any better when former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Jeb talked about how his experience in running the Florida education system should qualify him to be the nominee. Jeb touted his record in turning the public school system over to charter schools and creating a voucher program that helped to destroy public schools in Florida. Bush bragged about how he beat up on the Teacher’s Union and AFSCME to “get results.” He bragged that as Governor he would routinely fire public employees who he deemed ineffective. Jeb promised as President to continue this trend of terrorizing workers.
One of the unique aspects of the New Hampshire primary is that, the candidates take non planted questions from the audience. One such question, directed at Jeb Bush, revolved around climate change and energy policy. While the Governor said he believes in climate change his solution is to eliminate tax breaks for clean energy sources, such as wind and solar. Bush does this so that they lose their price advantage to oil, natural gas and coal. Of course there was no talk about using other clean energy sources like nuclear. Although it seemed very likely that he would not be supporting tax credits for repowering union nuclear power plants. His plan lacked real solutions and instead sounded like a plan to make oil, an industry that the Bush family is invested in, more competitive in the market.
Bush was also asked a question about infrastructure spending. Under a Bush presidency, the Federal Government will not build a single thing. Instead, federal infrastructure money will be sent to the states to do with it what they will. This decentralized approach may sound good but is a real short sighted plan.
Bush was also asked by a student at the middle school where the event was being held whether he would fund building a new school. Bush promised that as president he would not build any new schools and instead send the money to the states with the hope that they would build new schools.
Throughout his speech, Bush also reveled in attacking his opponents, especially Trump. Bush went after Trump on the issue of eminent domain, in which he is unequivocally against the use of eminent domain. The Building Trades need eminent domain to build the Keystone Pipeline and the IBEW routinely rely on power companies to use eminent domain to gain access to property to maintain power lines.
On Sunday Governor John Kasich of Ohio, the only Governor that actually passed Right to Work (for Less) legislation, was the most moderate and mentioned organized labor in a positive light. Kasich, who is now against Right to Work (for Less) legislation after the voters of his state repealed it, first served as a congressman and is a known budget hawk.
Kasich spoke of how under his administration the federal government would become “uberized.” This was Kasich’s way of saying that he will go after inefficiency in the federal government. Some proposed changes he had where merging the Labor and Education departments. Kasich said, “I don’t like anything big, big government, big unions or big business.” Of course this would mean many layoffs for Federal government workers. Kasich also promised a suspension of all regulations until they could be deemed necessary by his administration.
One of Kasich’s plans was to allow states the freedom to create jobs in their state outside of a centralized federal jobs program. A large theme of all of the Republican candidates’ job plans is that the government shouldn’t create jobs, private business should. When asked about his plan for the countries crumbling infrastructure he touted a project in Ohio to build a turnpike, saying we built the turnpike, created revenue for the state, and put men and women to work. Kasich said that the state was happy with the new revenue, the Operating Engineers where working and the Building Trades had jobs. Throughout Kaisch’s speech he played up the fact that he worked across party lines to get things done. He talked about how as chairman of the House Budget Committee, he worked with President Bill Clinton on the Balanced Budget Amendment and welfare reform. Kasich also spent a good portion of his time fielding questions about the VA. His main plan followed a similar path to Rubio and Bush in that all three want to make major changes to the Veteran’s Administration that would allow vets to go to any hospital instead of just VA hospitals.
On Saturday night, we stopped by the “free speech zone.” The zone is a place where supporters of all campaigns and issues can hold public rallies and protests. While nearly every campaign was there, the largest contingent was made up of members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Many of the union members had traveled from all over the Northeast. As they chanted about the need for a $15/wage and how they will only support a candidate wo works for their endorsement, some Republicans got scared. A white female, Ted Cruz supporter from Texas, expressed how she had “never been so scared in her life.”
The weekend gave us and our nation a look into the future of the American political system. Throughout the speeches, it became quite clear that the Republican party was continuing their war on workers and minorities and that Republicans are still in love with cutting taxes for the super wealthy. When hearing from the Democratic candidates, both made a strong effort to prove to voters that they were the candidates that would stand up for the middle and working class.