I think there were two valuable lessons from tonight’s primary results in New Hampshire. First, follow Aaron Rodgers advice and R-E-L-A-X, relax. This is New Hampshire. This primary, while first, is always quirky and never an indication of the winner. Instead, it is a test of a variety of smaller questions. New Hampshire can end a campaign but it cannot lock-in a winner. Let’s not assume that now Sanders and Trump and the presumptive favorites. It’s just not true. HRC has 8x the delegates of Sanders already and Trump has only a slight lead over the field in committed delegates.
Second, and perhaps more important than anything else in this election thus far, diversity breeds understanding, compassion, and complexity. Homogeneity makes things easy. My initial response to Senator Bernie Sanders’s candidacy was one of nonchalance and respect. Respect because here was a man who had not changed his message for more than 35 years. His entire adult life devoted to a single idea – social justice. Nonchalance because while I respect Senator Sanders’s commitment his message seems more fitting for a political science classroom than a ballot box. I will admit this could be the exact attitude that keeps the establishment in power but it is also realistic.
I have exactly the opposite view of Mr. Trump. Intense concern and disrespect. Mr. Trump is not the idealist but the instigator. Believing only in winning at all costs, Trump simply appeals to the basis instinct of a frustrated and confused mob. This is not as bad as it sounds because I don’t believe it will lead to violence the way some on the right and the left, alike, fear (or like to imply). What’s true is that limited, similar populations tend to be able to pull off ideologies that do not work in a large complex nation. Exhibit A – Scandinavia. Exhibits B&C – Iowa & New Hampshire.
Sanders and Trump, as ideas, do not work (or win) in a country of 350 million people all pursuing their own individual self interest.
So, while I love New Hampshire as a place to live, work, visit, vacation, eat, drink and relax, it is not a barometer of the country. It is a relatively similar population with a quirky, independent streak that most people either love or have never encountered.
But before you think I’m headed for the obligatory “nothing to see here,” I do have one big takeaway. John Kasich and Jeb Bush finishing second and (probably) third, respectively, could mean a few months from now we are talking about how all we needed was patient to see the “real” candidates rise to the top. This not meant to diminish the popularity or success of Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Marco Rubio, but it seems the age/experience/timing supports Kasich and Bush being more more traditionally popular choices. You could argue that 2016 is game changer for politics in this country but I doubt it. Generally, we’ve shifted back and forth from young to experienced from Republican to Democrat. Carter-Reagan/Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama. In that pattern, Kasich and Bush seem the more logical frontrunners. Tonight could be the night that shifts the GOP from Cruz/Rubio to Kasich/Bush. We’ll see.