This past weekend, Wake the Vote packed our bags and drove up to New Hampshire. Although the Iowa Caucuses marks the beginning of the 2016 Presidential election, the New Hampshire primary is the first exhibition of the traditional democratic process.
And boy, are the New Hampshirites proud of this.
Having constituents excited about democracy, of course, is not unique and special to New Hampshire. There were plenty of excited caucusers in Iowa, and there are definitely excited primary-goers in other states (such as myself!). What is special about New Hampshire, is that they are the first to vote, and they know that their vote is important.
The results of the New Hampshire Primary – along with the Iowa caucus – impact which campaigns keep their skin in the game, and which campaigns pack up and go home. Since the New Hampshirites know that their vote is important, they make the candidates work for it. Unlike in Iowa, where there were endless large rallies in venues to hold hundreds – and even thousands – of people, New Hampshire takes a different approach: small, intimate town halls throughout the state.
I had the privilege to attend the town hall meetings of Governor John Kasich (2nd place in NH) and Governor Chris Christie (6th place in NH). Although Christie’s meeting was larger than Kasichs’ both were events in church spaces, with enough seats for everyone to sit.
The nature of town halls is very demanding on candidates: they have to be ready to any question that many come their way in a confident and determined manner. Both Kasich and Christie were asked questions about the economy, health care, having the people’s voices be heard. For the most part, both were able to effectively answer the questions. When a question about FAA policy arose, however, Christie acknowledged his lack of knowledge, and sent a staffer to collect the constituent’s question to follow up.
Town halls are an incredible experience because they reveal how important each and every person’s vote is. With the nature of American politics, it can seem at times that your vote couldn’t possibly make a difference in the outcome of an election.
That is simply not the case.
This primary’s results is a fantastic reflection of why that isn’t true: no one would have assumed that Senator Bernie Sanders would win a state with such a large margin six months ago, and six months ago Governor Kasich didn’t have the name recognition to win 2nd place.
The candidates chosen in this election will enact policies that will impact this countries for decades to come structurally, socially, and economically, so make sure to vote for the candidate you believe will bring the most effective change to this country. U.S. citizens are blessed to be in a country where free speech is encouraged and changing leaders does not cause a national stability crisis. There are, however, several paths that this country can take in upcoming years, and your vote could make the difference in which is followed.
-Katherine I. Cassidy