Maine and Vermont have given way to New Hampshire as the bellwether of presidential politics. As the state with the first real primary in a presidential election year, New Hampshire has assumed an importance that frustrates politicians and baffles political commentators.
Voters throughout the country can rejoice that New Hampshire is where candidates must pass their first test. New Hampshire is the only one of the 50 states that has neither a state income tax nor a general sales tax.
How did New Hampshire citizens achieve this enviable position in our era of ever-increasing taxation? As Sherlock Holmes would have said, “Elementary, my dear Watson.” The solution to the mystery is that the New Hampshire legislature has 424 members.
This large number of legislators in a state so geographically small means that each legislator is personally known to most of his own constituents. He doesn’t dare to vote for tax increases. The key to keeping taxes low is close voter supervision over those with the power to levy taxes.
Yet despite the lack of state money to spend for all those do-good projects so dear to the heart of all demagogic politicians, New Hampshire has a growth rate second only to Florida. New Hamp shire demonstrates the basic economic fact that high taxes and big government spending do not create jobs or economic prosperity.
Only capital investment stimulated by the free enterprise system does that — and this happens best in an environment of low taxes and less government regulation. When the presidential hopefuls grimly trudge through the January and February snow and cold in New Hampshire, they find self-reliant, hard-working Americans.
One of the current Democratic candidates recently expressed his frustration in failing to make himself relevant to New Hampshire voters. He complained that campaigning is so difficult since the Vietnam War is over; the voters are mainly concerned with busing, gun control, and abortion, and you can’t win on those issues.
New Hampshire is thus rendering a national public service by discouraging those candidates who evade the major issues or who are pro-busing, pro-gun control, and pro-abortion. The voters are not particularly interested in the usual subjects that dominate the daily news, such as what shenanig· ns the CIA indulged in overseas or who bugged whom at Watergate. The voters do oare about the issues that involve their homes and children because these are rele vant in their daily lives.
As a special bonus, New Hampshire has also made politically viable the issue of prayer in the public schools. After the adverse public reaction to the Federal judge’s ruling voiding a recent New Hampshire law permitting prayer in the public schools, President Ford found it expedient to come out for a constitutional amendment to restore the right of prayer in the schools.
When you add it all up, the presidential primary system, with New Hampshire leading the way, is the healthiest thing that has happened to politics in the last four years.