Monday, January 9, 2012

Citizen Involvement

So this weekend, winding down towards the New Hampshire Primary, I figured I needed to take advantage of my NH given right to be involved in the political process. It was a now or never realization, and I am glad that I jumped in. I want to make it clear, I am not endorsing any candidate or idea here, other than the idea to get out and be involved in the process.

The first event I attended was Friday night. Congressman Ron Paul held a rally at the University of New Hampshire. It was kinetic and interesting to see people mob the room, and hoot and holler. They were so jazzed to have the opportunity to be in the same room. The event was barely an hour, and was punctual and efficient in the delivery of the message. I noticed that so many people in the audience were clearly OK with Paul recently stating that he understands that he won't be in the White House a year from now (OK, a year and 11 days).

The second event, and really for me the highlight event, was a meeting with a group of Dutch citizens. This group is in the United States to witness and explore the New Hampshire Primary. The Mayor of Dover hosted the event and it was a very clear and intelligent discussion about the process, a New Hampshire resident's expectations about the Primary and the reality of living in a place where retail politics is the norm. We spoke as a group for just over an hour, and then splintered into smaller discussions for a second hour.

It was fascinating and visceral to sit and listen to these truly interested and engaged people. The Dutch were a very interesting group to have this conversation. They are intelligent and respectful and very insightful. The opinions they had, as well as the observations were clear and the questions they asked were asked in an academic but also thoughtful and accessible manner. They really wanted to learn and grow from the meeting. I encourage everyone to read the Fosters article.

My final event was this morning, and it was attending the taping of the MSNBC show Morning Joe in Manchester NH. That's right, I woke up at 3:30 am, drove to Manchester and arrived to be seated at 5 am for the taping. Thankfully the restaurant hosting the event had coffee and eggs ready to go. What a trip it was to see the show as it unfolded. From my seat I could see the teleprompter and got a very interesting perspective of what is on the fly and what is scripted. You could see the stage manager cue people up and set the stage, as it were. I found the seven second delay to be distracting if you watched the monitors in the room. The "cast" and crew were very friendly and shook hands and interacted with the audience during breaks and in some cases during the show itself.

How is this related to planning, you ask? We'll I'll use the engagement aspect. I believe that an informed public in one which participates in its government. To follow that, if you are informed and participate, we will be more apt to have a successful plan, no matter the direction of that plan.

That said, go out and vote on Tuesday, January 10, no matter what your leanings or party.

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