This Ridiculous Political Cycle – Anonymous Donor and New Hampshire Town Caught in Mire over Obama Campaign

*Preface: This is me sounding off on an issue in a place that is very dear to me, New Hampshire.  I’m not a politician, nor do I pretend to know many of the intricacies of this science. Because my view is not fully rounded, I’ve included some comments after by someone who probably has more knowledge.  Love to hear your thoughts after you read this.

Earlier this political season I read that $2.3 Billion dollars would be spent on political advertising for this year’s Presidential election.  I immediately sent @MittRomney and @BarakObama (twitter accounts for Mitt and Obama) a message stating that no political ad would affect my decision.  I feel that we know enough from traditional media, service records, and the swirl of information from the last six to eight years to make an informed decision.  I told them to give all that money to poverty relief.  That is not likely to even be considered.

On a more ridiculous note, the other day I read an article about the town in New Hampshire, Durham, has decided that they do not think it is right for the taxpayers to pay for the $20,000 in security that the campaign coming to their town would cost.  At first glance this seems somewhat reasonable in argument (though I will argue against it later in this article), but regardless, an anonymous donor from Durham has offered to donate the $20,000 to cover the security costs (reported by Boston Herald).  Also, seems reasonable.  Why wouldn’t a regular person be able to give money to whatever thing that they would like to see happen.  Its their town – they can pitch in beyond their tax burden – right?

Well, it gets crazier.  The Republican Party of New Hampshire (where I originally registered as a Republican around 18 years old about 12 years ago), revealed what was really going on.  Obama’s campaign did refuse to pay for their own security (which again I will argue that security is still the town’s responsibility if they want him to come).  I see this as a ruse to get a story into the national press to bite on a story that shows a town standing against Obama.  In other words – the town was a part of the political game.  I guess everyone is a part of the “game”, though I wish the town could stay above the fray.  The Republican Party went on to say snidely in so many words that the Obama Campaign is so off track that even the donors want to stay off the record.  Well, that’s not necessarily true – some people just don’t like getting their names slathered across the newspapers in town, state or national news.  I would also wish to remain anonymous, especially considering how generous the offer is.

Being from New Hampshire (first 19 years of my life), it pains me to see a town much like my own (Derry) brought into the mud.  When a campaign comes into town, the local economy is boosted.  The press moves in, meals are eaten in local restaurants, hotels fill up in the area before and after the event, people from all around stream in, and the town gains notoriety.  Why would Durham decide they didn’t want to pay for the security?  Are they not responsible for public safety?  Whether it is Mitt or Obama, why wouldn’t they have the respect for the Presidential office to pitch in and let the town benefit from the boost?

This isn’t a new phenomena however.  Many non-profit organizations who have traditionally been seen as contributors to the public good have been somewhat harassed by organizations who presume to speak for a town, and seek monetary contributions to the tax burden of places wishing to continue all services without any austerity without raising taxes.  Here, Durham is a pawn, and it seems sneaky and underhanded.  For the sake of public civility, whether a Republican or a Democrat, surely we can see beyond the molehill and find the benefits of the conversation coming to your town.  This is a good thing for the public?  Where are we going if we lose the ability to be good hosts?  Especially when there are clear economic boosts from what is about to happen!

***A Great Response by Nick M. (From Facebook)***

The only thing I take exception to in your article is the concept that the town is required to ensure “public safety”. While this is true, the cost for a single individual to come to town, especially if it is a roll through stop like so many campaign events are now, would tax a small town’s resources without the benefits you mention (room and board costs). New Hampshire does not have sales tax (as you know) and local services are paid for by property owners so the ROI per individual must be significant. Further, a protection detail for a single individual is not “Public Safety” unless that individual is threatening the public. Finally, the Obama campaign has paid millions of dollars in police force overtime for Obama’s “non-campaign” trips to Chicago where he happened to raise millions for his war chest. Why do the citizens of Chicago get a break but the citizens of Durham are caught with the check?

My response: Thanks Nick. And that makes sense. I suppose my real upset is that the town looks like a pawn in the political rug tug of war. I really had no idea how towns sorted this kind of thing out.

Nick: Rug of war may actually be more accurate … lol. Each side has a corner and is trying to pull the rug out from under the honest tax payer.

What do you think? (Comment Below)


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2 thoughts on “This Ridiculous Political Cycle – Anonymous Donor and New Hampshire Town Caught in Mire over Obama Campaign

  1. Dan, I agree that people, including towns, ought to be good hosts, but a story on CNN says that Durham town officials were informed, with four days notice, that their town had been selected as a campaign stop. So he wasn’t exactly invited. And he was only there for about two hours, so it’s unclear what, if any, boost they got out of it.

    There was an interesting side note in the CNN story, though. It seems that Bush made a similar stop in Durham in 2000, and when Durham requested a similar reimbursement from the Bush campaign, they agreed.

    But your larger point regarding the huge amounts of money to be spent on political campaigns this year is something of major concern to many people. In fact, one of the main articles in the most recent issue of Harvard Magazine is on that very subject.

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    1. Thanks Ed. The context that you (and Nick) have provided helps me think this through a bit more. I had in my mind a stop where the candidate makes a speech, stays a bit, and brings in other politicians (like one here in Hilton Head Island a while back). If $20,000 goes to a few minutes in a town for a photo op, that is a huge difference. The donor wishing to give $20k to help out, further reinforced to me that this would be a substantial stop. This conversation helps me a great deal – as I am frustrated with a lot of parts of the political system right now.

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