New Hampshire's Virtual Town Hall
Dear Mr. President,
Welcome to Durham. If, as I suspect, you land at Pease Airport in Portsmouth, then your motorcade will bring you right past my house along Route 4 on your way to your campaign events tomorrow afternoon. Give a wave if you see me on the side of the road.
Your security people have asked for all available Durham police officers and firefighters to be on duty today, which makes sense. Given the whack jobs out there, you can’t be too safe, and a visit by the President of the United States is a big deal.
But you’re here as mostly Candidate Barack Obama and not entirely President Barack Obama, so I must say I’m disappointed your well-funded campaign won’t pay for whatever unbudgeted costs our little town might provide for you. It took someone else -- an unnamed donor -- to pony up the cost up to $20,000.
The request that your campaign foot the bill is emblematic of how things are in this country you want to lead for another four years: We just can’t afford the things we used to.
Small towns like Durham are strapped for cash, just like a lot of Americans are strapped for cash. We looked to you for help as Candidate Obama on the former, we look to you as President Obama on the latter.
Here’s what our Town Council chair pro-tem Jay Gooze said in an email late yesterday to residents:
To be clear, our request came from the basic responsibility that a local government has to its residents to ensure that expenses outside our approved budget are recovered in a fair and equitable manner. As in small towns across the country, we have struggled to save money while providing essential quality services to our public. We commend our Town Administrator, Todd Selig, for respectfully raising this issue. We owed it to our residents to ask the Obama campaign to help cover our costs. Unfortunately, they declined.
Durham is your kind of demographic. It’s a university town, which why you’re here, if I understand correctly that your main topic of discussion tomorrow is education related. But while Durham might be seen as somewhat progressive politically, we’re still Yankees when it comes to someone else spending our money.
Our tax money shouldn’t be paying for your campaign visit, not until there’s complete public funding of presidential elections, and, given the Citizens United decision on campaign financing, that’s not likely to happen any time soon.
We know New Hampshire is an important swing state in the upcoming election against Republican Mitt Romney. I’ve read a couple of scenarios where New Hampshire’s four electoral college could mean the difference between your going back to the White White or going back to Chicago.
On this economic issue, it took someone else to step up to the plate. Your answer to Durham that, basically, you are not responsible is not what I wanted to hear when our financial issues in Durham are just a microcosm of the country’s problems.