You’re hot, thirsty, and your feet ache from standing, but you’ve never seen Chris Christie in person before, and the Christie staffer said, “if you all stand in front of the sign, you’ll be on TV!” How could anyone say no to that? We had left at what seemed to be the crack of dawn (7:30 am) in order to arrive at the Town Hall early enough to get good spots. Fortunately, it paid off as a section of our group appeared in the background of a picture on the New York Times website! (It’s as close to fame as many of us will ever get.)
Town hall meetings are a peculiar thing. A collection of various New Hampshire citizens, ranging in age but not much else, gather in tight spaces and at odd times to engage with the people running to fill the highest office in our country. The candidate is introduced, says a few humourous remarks, then takes questions from the audience for about an hour or so. In general, the questions are pretty standard, not a huge challenge for a seasoned political veteran. However, through the minimal interactions the candidate has with the audience, one is able to discern a lot about personality. It seemed for Governor Christie, it was less important to fulfill the trivialities of asking for a name, thanking people personally for questions, or letting others finish speaking before he began. The governor was more interested in introducing people to his positions, and answering questions as best he could with the little time allotted. Christie’s abrupt tone and mannerisms spoke to his campaign slogan, “Telling It Like It Is.”
Despite candidate preference, the town hall is an inspiring and humbling event for students like me, who spend a month in the freezing cold to connect with people who care. In an age where voter apathy is greater than ever, to engage with people who respect the privilege of voting and take such time and effort to learn about individual candidates is definitely worth the two hour wait. Although some may question the fairness and legitimacy in a tiny state having such tremendous influence in the success or failure of a political candidate, I applaud New Hampshire for its dedication and pride, and for its endeavor to show that it has earned its place as the first-in-the-nation primary.
-- Eden Fauré is a St. Olaf junior from Pasadena, CA., majoring in Political Science and Asian Studies with a concentration in China Studies. She is in New Hampshire as part of a St. Olaf political science class studying the presidential election.