DATELINE: NEW HAMPSHIRE – So my time writing for Utah Policy began many moons ago, in a fabled era known as 2008 – when the improbable still seemed possible – and I was blogging from the front lines of the Iowa caucuses, a cock-eyed optimist who wanted to see one Willard Mitt Romney become president of these United States.
(What is it about optimism that leads to cock-eyed-ness? Does pessimism lead to flat-eyed-ness?)
Visiting Iowa was a novelty at that time, still a neophyte to the world of Washington politics as I was. A week of knocking doors, making phone calls, and attending rallies was a dream: seeing democracy unfold in simple town hall meetings, where civic duty inspired Americans to challenge the dark, hard cold of January. It warmed the cockles of my heart, as they say. The taste of big-time politics in a small state left me hungry for more, and when some of my friends went on to New Hampshire, I was jealous that I – alas – did not.
When 2012 rolled around, a group of us from DC went down to South Carolina, this time to support Gov. Romney again. Later that year I also got to travel to the convention in Tampa, Florida, to support Utah’s Favorite (Adopted) Son. And of course I’ve been back to Utah to help with campaigns there when I can.
And thus we come to it at last! 2016, the most important election in American history since the last one. In terms of early state contests, I knew that this would be my year for New Hampshire: the Granite State, the Live Free or Die State, I would finally scratch this one off my presidential bucket list.
I have been in NH since Saturday, helping campaign for Sen. Marco Rubio – the grassroots tasks are very similar to what I did in 2008 and 2012 for Romney (though new technology makes old school tasks like knocking on doors much more efficient than). After Rubio’s strong showing in Iowa, the enthusiasm and confidence among his supporters is high.
Best example: Saturday while making phone calls to potential voters, I reached one individual while he was knocking doors for the Senator.
Now after 10 years in Washington, away from My Mountain Home So Dear, my eyes are nowhere near as cocked, my heart-cockles not so warm. This trip to New Hampshire is not a first foray into presidential politics as much as it is an ongoing part of my own political journey: it feels a little bit more like the kind of thing you have to do than you get to do.
Hardened political veterans can’t feel the thrill of this kind of politicking that first-timers can. I don’t feel the first-date jitters I used to. But I see it in the eyes of first-time supporters, college students, and even some teenagers who are volunteering. And the enduring will to be a part of this great experiment I call “democracy” yields a different kind of reward: I’m still hopelessly, helplessly in love with these United States.
BUT let me know if anyone wants to come with to the Florida primary. Or maybe to deploy on Super Tuesday. Or the 2016 GOP convention.