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Spencer Rendahl: Primary Fatigue

The New Hampshire Primary turns 100 this year – just a couple weeks from now – and I’ve decided that being a New Hampshire resident during primary season is sort of like being the pretty girl at the high school dance, who’s been put in the irritating position of having to fend off nearly two dozen would-be suitors. Not that I actually have any direct personal experience with too many suitors – but if I dare answer the phone with an unrecognizable number on caller ID, chances are it’s someone’s campaign asking me out on something very much like a date.

“Would you like to see Chris Christie in Lebanon Friday night?”

“Can you make it to Rand Paul’s Town Hall event on Saturday?”

“Jeb Bush is speaking at the senior center Thursday. Doors open at 5!”

I’m really too old for this.

For the candidates, it’s a game of musical chairs. When the music stops at the end of primary day on February 9th, those without enough votes may have to drop out. So they’ve turned up the charm – and the frequency of calls. When my house started getting more than dozen calls a day in October, we stopped answering the phone for unfamiliar numbers.

Now, they’ve hit “new media.” My 10-year-old daughter recently announced that she wanted to use part of her allowance to upgrade her Pandora account so she could stream her favorite music without political ads. “I’m sick of hearing Marco Rubio ads,” she says.

And then there’s the junk mail. Some messages are relatively positive. But almost every day something negative shows up in my mailbox that's from a Political Action Committee. Who knew Ted Cruz could be considered liberal? But according to one PAC, Cruz is really a socialist in disguise.

Expanding health care in one’s state with the Affordable Care Act, speaking out in the defense of civil liberties, and even shaking hands with a sitting president when he visits your state now carries the whiff of treason. The constant sniping in my mailbox has left me weary.

I want to hear from candidates about how they can help me put my two kids through college; how we can work with other countries rather than carpet bomb them to make the world safer; and how we can use science to address climate change and keep our planet livable for future generations.

When I hear these conversations, I’ll pick up the phone. And maybe even hit the dance floor.

Suzanne Spencer Rendahl is a former journalist whose work has appeared in publications including the Boston Globe. She lives with her husband and two children in Plainfield, NH.
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