(Obligatory disclaimer: I have never been to Alabama. Maybe it’s nice there, I don’t really know. But it makes a good stereotype.)
The New Hampshire primary was yesterday. Leading up to the event, there were a lot of articles on the state from various content sites. They talked about the “spirit” of the state or whatever, and reporters from a few of my favorite sources took pictures of small New Hampshire towns. Places way up there where around five people live year-round (not an exaggeration, places like this really exist, especially in Maine).
I was kind of taken aback by these articles. Most of them painted New Hampshire as some sort of “Alabama of the North.” The last refuge of Conservatism in the Northeast (but upstate New York certainly fits the label better). The Alabama of the North comment came from one of my professors last semester, who lived in Worcester for a few years, as if he knows. But I grew up less than 2,000 feet from New Hampshire. I know what it’s about.
New Hampshire is a conservative state… kind of. It’s New England conservatism. It leans more Libertarian than anything, a group of people who would rather be left alone than scream about anything. There are more Bible-pushing, anti-abortion maniacs within spitting distance anywhere in the South than in the whole state. Like just about every other place in New England, the majority of the population lives in the lower third of the state (for New Hampshire, this is Manchester and below), and that group is mostly liberal.
I will say that New Hampshire is the place where you can do anything. Fireworks? Yep. Adults still don’t need to wear a seatbelt, though there’s a handsfree law. Live free or die.
Up North things do get pretty scarce. In some places there is really shocking poverty. My dad spent high school in a town just North of Concord (the state capitol, which is not very north at all, but there’s not too many people in the White Mountains), Boscawen, where most of his graduating class didn’t go to college. Most of the kids didn’t graduate at all. Most of the state is either a state park or rural, blue collar towns, where all the conservatism comes from. But still, there’s just not enough people to outweigh the liberal south.
It gets compared to Vermont a lot, New Hampshire’s hippie little sister (which used to be the most conservative state in the country, until Evangelists took over the party). I personally don’t like Vermont– they don’t have Market Basket there, which I just don’t trust. Both states have a lot of old white people who just want to sit around the campfire and sign songs (my mother, New Hampshire native and member of the most liberal family on Earth).
What I’m trying to say here is that conservative is not the word I would use for New Hampshire. Case and point, all though Donald Trump may have won the primary, John Kasich came in second, beating Ted Cruz by 4 points. CNN ran an article this morning with the title “Who Is John Kasich?” I knew who he was, because my conservative friends on Facebook have been on about this guy for months. New Hampshire is a state about conservative reason. Republicans from New England don’t behave like the Ted Cruz’s of the world. Susan Collins (R), senior Senator from Maine would never (our junior Senator is another old white guy, Angus King (I). I love them both).
I’ve been trying to get people to think differently about Maine and New Hampshire for months now. Content sites, don’t ruin it for me now.