Voters are the real winners in New Hampshire this morning, and the biggest losers are the pollsters and pundits who are just stunned that the voters rejected the “conventional wisdom” of the collective media that the candidacies of John McCain and Hillary Clinton were virtually dead. Hooray for the citizens who beat the press, the people in the diners and town hall meetings, the card-carrying members of the unions and the ruggedly individualistic New Englanders, the wildly enthusiastic college students and the senior citizens who bundled up to get out the vote. Whomever is your candidate of choice, whether you are cheering or moaning this morning, you have to be glad that New Hampshire set a record for voter turnout — more than 500,000 went to the polls in that small northern state — and that the voters rejected the easy media prognostications.
The 2008 Presidential Election certainly bodes “change” — the mantra of all the candidates. Well, of course, since Americans must elect a new president no matter the party or person. The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, introduced in Congress in 1947 after the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (the only president to serve more than two terms, he was elected to four but died 100 days into his final term) and ratified in 1951, establishes the limit of two four-year terms for the U.S. President. While some people, including members of Congress and the current President Bush, have advocated the abolition of presidential term limits, in fact, this rotation of national leadership is a great strength of our democracy.
Participation in the democratic process is one of the most fundamental duties of every citizen. New Hampshire voters have demonstrated, once again, that the power of the people is considerable, even leading the talking heads to fumble for words to describe what happened. Last night, as the returns came in, I heard Tim Russert and George Stephanopolous and Katie Couric and so many other commentators express the “What Happened?” surprise statement over and over as the results defied the polls. The answer is easy. The voters took control. Whatever the outcome this year, voters need to remain in control.
If you have not yet registered to vote, do so today. We will have a voter registration drive on campus later in the semester, and ongoing opportunities for students, faculty and staff to participate in discussion and debates about the options we face as a nation. This is one game where you can’t sit on the sidelines — get in the game! Get ready to vote.
Read New York Times coverage of New Hampshire Primary