“Live free or die”. This is the state motto found on all New Hampshire license plates. On our first drive through Manchester, one of my classmates, in somewhat of a joking manner, said, “Have you seen their license plate motto? Live free or die.” One of the reasons this may have been particularly amusing to us is the sheer contrast between this bold statement and the comparatively innocent motto of Minnesota, “Land of 10, 000 Lakes”. Although this statement was amusing at first, having spent a few days in Manchester, I am starting to see why this motto may be fitting. I will admit, I don’t know the history of this state motto. However, I can only imagine it being spoken with a tone of assertiveness and pride, and pride is the overwhelming sentiment I have felt among the people of New Hampshire. The pride that comes with hosting the first-in-the-nation primary.
On Tuesday, Chelsea Clinton addressed an eager audience in Manchester, and everything from the setting of the event to the introductory remarks evoked a sense of New Hampshire pride. Set in the Millyard Museum, the backdrop of the event was an exhibit dedicated to past New Hampshire primaries. Pictures of previous primaries and numerous campaign buttons filled the room behind Ms. Clinton. As she spoke, she was surrounded by an exhibit symbolizing New Hampshirites' pride to have the “right” to host the first presidential primary. Before Ms. Clinton spoke, the first speaker to emerge from the memorabilia filled back room, was one of New Hampshire’s state senators. As he introduced the main event, he recalled the important role of the New Hampshire primaries. He specifically recalled the example of the election of 1960, claiming that New Hampshire was responsible for propelling the campaign of JFK and therefore responsible for the election of the first Roman Catholic president. After reminding the audience of the significant role the New Hampshire primaries play in presidential politics, he urged the audience to remember the great responsibility they have come February 9th, and it was evident through the passion in his voice that he was proud of this responsibility.
Throughout history, New Hampshire has fought hard to maintain its place as first in the nation, claiming that it is their “right” to hold the first primary. Across the country, everyone may not be in agreement that it is New Hampshire’s “right” to host the first presidential primary. However, it is difficult to deny the pride and sense of responsibility the people of New Hampshire attach to the important role they play in nominating America’s presidential candidates.
- Lindsay Mattei is a sophomore at St. Olaf from Grand Rapids, Minnesota majoring in Economics. She is in New Hampshire as part of a St. Olaf political science class studying the presidential election.