Monday, August 07, 2006

Paul Hodes in Alstead

I'll be honest with you.

When I first looked at the candidates for House of Representatives in NH-02, I was most immediately struck by the falsehood of Charles Bass's claims to being a moderate. Votes with the Republicans 89% of the time? Not a moderate. End of story.

Paul Hodes is a Democrat. That was all I knew, and given his opponent, that was about good enough. Short of certain kinds of craziness, I was supporting him. When I saw the various Swing State Project posts on him, I thought "oh, good, it's actually a race." And I figured that if the guy was actually nuts, it wouldn't be a race anyway, or at least one of the SSP posts would have some kind of caveat about that. So I figured Hodes was reasonably solid, and I started doing a little research and I liked what I found.

Focused a little more on Bass's record and continued not to like what I found. But I understand why name recognition is a challenge for people like Paul Hodes, because I wanted to learn about him and it was difficult.

So I went and met him. And I was impressed, based on a very brief conversation. But this sunday I got a more complete view at a Meet the Candidates event put on by the Alstead Democrats. And now I'm more impressed.

I was a little late getting there and he was already speaking, so I missed however he began, and I was exhausted so my processing speed was poor, but he never hit an off note. He talked about how the US is faced with "great challenges and great opportunities," and needs a government that can do something other than "talking tough and acting dumb," how the technical and entrepreneurial skills exist to meet a whole range of problems but we lack the leadership to do it. He noted that it might take sacrifice and hard work to do so, but that can and must. Call me silly, but I like to hear the word "sacrifice" coming from a politician, rather than just sweeping promises with no recognition that there may be tradeoffs down the road.

The thing I like best in what he said is that he's so clearly committed to reaching out beyond the core of the Democratic party. It's not that he seems to want to participate in the current horse-trading notion of bipartisanship in which people cut cheap deals with each other to be able to brag that they can work with the other party; rather, he seems open to considering a range of opinions and consulting with a range of people. He said "As Democrats in New Hampshire, we must talk with independents and thoughtful Republicans." As he talked, it was clear how genuine a sentiment this was; it was also clear that he would be willing and able to talk to different wings of the Democratic party, as for instance when he called for universal healthcare but rather than laying out one plan as the only way to go, referred respectfully and knowledgeably to both a single-payer system and to other plans that might perhaps go over a little better in the current American political atmosphere.

In addition to what he said, though, there's something else that really, really impresses me about Paul Hodes. When I talked to him, he was incredibly nice. I've also now spoken, at least briefly, with maybe six of his staffers and with his wife, and they were also all incredibly nice. I don't like the kind of politics where you vote for the person you imagine you'd most like to have a beer with, but there's something to be said for nice. Nice is a cheesy word, one that doesn't say much necessarily, but in this case I think its simplicity and generality are appropriate, because I don't mean solely that they are good at being schmoozy and affable. I mean that I'm a judgmental bitch who dislikes plenty of people basically on sight, and even I think they're good people.


Blogger Keener said...

I have yet to meet Paul Hodes. I hope to. What has impressed me so far about him is that in the relatively few public statements I've seen from him he's able to sound very much like I would imagine a NH Democrat to be. Meaning there are all the themes there that the Republicans have falsely called their own, but are really there for any politician to claim -- how weird is it that Republican Charlie Bass is the one pushing Statism down our throats?

Oddly enough, I noticed that Bass's campaign spokesman today was the same spokesman for that racetrack in Northern NH that got crammed down the throats of the people up there in a despicable state override of local control. Kind of typical, this fake bow to local control as long as it doesn't (gasp) run counter to corporate interest. Very Charlie Bass. Very un-Hodes.

I like the fact that Hodes is the guy that introduced the prosecution of white collar crime to NH. That seems very meaningful to me and very not-Bass.

Anyway blathering...I hope to meet Hodes soon.

9:37 PM  
Blogger MissLaura said...

It seems to me like Hodes is someone who can talk not just to people on the traditional left and right, but can get a little bit off of that axis and be more flexible and creative about what he's willing to consider, without compromising core principles.

9:43 PM  
Blogger Ma Joad said...

In 2004, Hodes won 19 of 208 towns and/or wards with his biggest win in Hanover where he got 68% of the vote. Concord's wards 3 through 7 were wins as were Keene's wards 1 through 3 and Lebanon's wards 1 and 2. If he could only carry his Connecticut River liberal army to the east part of the state he'd have a chance. He's got support in Nashua's ward 4 already. I think it's very possible for him to school this large mouth fish on how to win an election.

1:36 AM  

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