If You Can't Think of Anything Nice to Say...
Like other local political analysts, I followed the race between Republican State Rep. David Boutin and Democratic State Rep. Jeff Goley to fill Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas’ District 16 senate seat. In a special election held yesterday, Boutin won the traditionally Republican seat quite handily.
I read a wrap-up of the contest in this morning’s Concord Monitor, and was heartened to hear Boutin speak graciously about his opponent. Goley, for his part, had nothing bad to say about Boutin in defeat, but instead noted that his own message hadn’t resonated with voters as he had hoped it would. Both candidates acted as political convention dictates on the morning after a hard-fought electoral contest.
Then I read the full press releases on the special election from the heads of New Hampshire’s state Republican and Democratic parties. Talk about a lack of grace on both sides. State Republican chairman Gov. John H. Sununu, while having nary a kind word for the defeated Goley, instead called out arrogant tax-and-spend Democrats, and their failed leadership and reckless fiscal agenda. State Democratic chairman Ray Buckley countered by not only refusing to congratulate Boutin for his victory, but by talking about Republicans pursuing a reckless, radical right-wing agenda.
We are still almost nine months away from this year’s main electoral event. Both sides should pace themselves lest they run out of fresh insults to hurl at each other. My guess is that this sort of reflexive, repetitive drumbeat of negativity may make partisans feel better, but will ultimately have little effect on most voters, other than to turn them off from politics.
I understand that a lot is at stake for both sides in this election, but it wouldn’t hurt to pause on occasion (like after an electoral victory), however briefly, to recognize the other side’s humanity. To do so is in keeping with our long-held political traditions. It is no wonder that recent polling shows that Americans are fed up with both parties, and are open to the idea of independent challenges to an increasingly dysfunctional two-party system.


Posted On: 02-17-2010 22:49:17 by Jim Splaine
Good post Dean. Fact is, both are gentlemen. Yes, they disagree on issues -- often passionately. That's good in politics. But Jeff is a class act -- he was at the State House with a smile on his face, doing his job beginning at a 9:00 AM meeting fighting on an issue of importance to labor. Just 13 hours earlier he had found out he had lost a campaign he had worked on for three months, but he was back at his $100-a-year job working for those whom he represents. And Dave Boutin was similarly on the job, finishing up some House duties so he could begin anew in the Senate the next day, accepting congratulations but also being humble about it, talking with members of both parties about upcoming issues. Two human beings who fought it out head-to-head, sometimes perhaps a bit over-managed during the past few weeks, but going to work. Pretty decent.

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