Vogel: Political Proximity

May 15, 2019

For anyone living near the New Hampshire border, Presidential politics are in full swing. On almost a daily basis, one contender or another will be holding a public event. For example in one recent week, Presidential candidates appeared at 38 public events in New Hampshire including six in the Upper Valley.

One thing I noticed at the events I've attended so far is the high level of enthusiasm among Dartmouth students and the broader Upper Valley community. Unless you're willing to stand in line for at least an hour, and then squeeze into the back of a very crowded room, you will be shut out of these events.

At this early stage in the campaign, I am particularly interested in learning which issues the candidates choose to talk about and which ones they ignore. So far, the topics at the top of the list are: healthcare, taxes, social justice and climate change.

In contrast, most of the leading candidates do not talk about - or offer creative ideas about - social security, affordable housing or the national debt.

I'm not sure if this neglect indicates how they would govern, but I find it troubling that these three issues are once again being ignored - especially as housing affordability continues to worsen and we run trillion dollar deficits. And there are two more observations about the early campaign season that I find intriguing.

The first is that it's easier than ever to donate to a candidate, even without going online. Once you’re on a list, there will be frequent emails from the candidate or his or her supporters – every one of which will include a prominent donate button.

On the other hand, I've been surprised to discover that it's difficult to send a check or a suggestion to a candidate. I guess I'm revealing my age by talking about sending a check and a message in a physical envelope by regular mail, but my deeper concern is that as campaigning becomes more managed and electronic, it's getting harder for voters to let candidates know which issues are important to us.