Guest Blogs

Entries in Tea Party (16)



  Looking for a secure job?  Look no further than Governor of New Hampshire.  That is, as long as you are a Democrat who is pragmatic enough to pledge to veto an income or sales tax, who can exude an air of likability while running a ruthlessly negative campaign, and who can give the appearance of governing from the middle even when you are not. 

            Jeanne Shaheen: three terms, then left by her own choice to pursue higher office.  (Yeah, I know she won without taking the pledge her last term, but that campaign against Humphrey could have made even a David Axelrod wince.)  John Lynch: four terms, then made an early (some would say premature) decision to retire to his dacha in Hopkinton because he didn’t foresee Narwhal eating over one-half of the House Republicans.  While, on the other hand, poor Craig Benson (that’s poor in the figurative sense of course) was retired after one short term spent primarily butting heads with House and Senate Republican leadership (which in part was why he was a one-and-done Governor). 

            So history suggests that, if the New Hampshire GOP wants to stop Maggie Hassan from having a long shelf life, they better pull out all the stops in 2014.

            It should be self-evident after nine elections, and a winning percentage of barely above 10 percent, that the best possible candidate is essential.  No sacrificial lambs or sentimental favorites this time.  This race, not the United States Senate race or the Congressional races, is the most consequential for the future of the New Hampshire GOP and the future of the State. 

            While it is often said that New Hampshire has a weak Governor, the Governor still wields a veto and has the power to nominate judges and senior bureaucrats.  Despite all the histrionics about a “tea-party legislature” gone wild, 2011-2012 was far from transformative.  We still have a fiscally irresponsible defined-benefit retirement plan for public-sector employees, a fiscally irrational education funding system and a plethora of destructive, rent-seeking regulations. And despite an Executive Council consisting of five Republicans, Governor Lynch succeeded in putting not just a committed Claremontista on the Supreme Court, but a committed Claremontista who made no bones about being a committed Claremontista.  The New Hampshire GOP is never going to fundamentally change the political culture of this State without holding the Governor’s office.      

            It is also essential that Republican legislative leadership understand that the race for 2014 started as soon as the vote counting ended in 2012, and act in a manner that helps, not hurts, the next GOP gubernatorial nominee.  Shaheen and Lynch were able to portray themselves as bipartisan while governing as pragmatic partisans, and look at the political success they enjoyed.  Hassan, obviously, means to follow in their footsteps.  

            This doesn’t mean that Republicans in the House and Senate should obstruct simply for the sake of obstructing.  But they must not compromise simply for the sake of compromising.  There is considerable cause for concern because Senate Republicans and, based on their selection of Gene Chandler as Minority Leader, a small majority of House Republicans are smaller-government conservatives rather than small-government conservatives. 

            Smaller-government conservatism –moderating Democrat policies rather than presenting alternatives– plays into the hands of pragmatic partisans like Shaheen, Lynch and Hassan.  They get to grow government while wearing the mantle of bipartisanship.  While their base may grouse about the pace of change being too slow, the base clearly learned its lesson from the Mark Fernald debacle in 2002.  Just ask Jackie Cilley.

            Two areas are particularly concerning:gambling and an education funding amendment.

            Any gambling bill that does not dedicate all gambling-generated revenues to reducing existing taxes is a grow-the-government bill.  If the State Senate passes a gambling bill that provides some tax relief, but also materially increases spending, we might as well just ask Hassan how long she would like to serve and then tell Bill Gardner to leave the Governor’s race off the ballot until that point.  She will be able to run as a tax-cutter while doling out cash to her special interest supporters.  No Republican support for gambling unless it is a true tax-relief measure.

            Senate Republicans, and many House Republicans, have shown a willingness to support an education funding amendment that, while giving the elected branches more control over how to divvy up the education funding pie, cedes to the Court the authority to determine the size of the pie, its ingredients, and how it gets made.  Republican support for such an inadequate amendment would allow Hassan to run as the Governor who solved Claremont, without losing the support of the teacher unions.  Republicans need to stick to the amendment that passed the Senate last session and narrowly failed in the House.


Carol Shea-Porter - For the Rest of Us 

The 2012 campaign season is rapidly coming to a close. The commercials are as thick and dark and biting as black flies, and mailers warn voters to beware of Candidate X or Y. Just this week, one special interest group bought $2 million dollars of ads against me, which is more than I will spend for my whole campaign. Voters will have to wade through it all and make a decision. I hope they will vote for me for Congress because I care deeply about our state and our country and I will serve the good people of New Hampshire, not special interests.

I am a proud direct descendent of General John Stark, whose words “Live Free or Die” are frequently quoted. My roots are deep, and I know, love, and respect this great little state of ours. I grew up in a Republican family and I remember how New Hampshire Republicans and Democrats could disagree about policy but still come together to serve our communities. I believe we must do that again—walk away from the tea party agenda that divides us and join together with a renewed sense of purpose and unity to tackle our problems. During my four years in Congress, I was known for my advocacy for the middle class, for small businesses, and for the American dream. As the Seacoast Media Group and the Portsmouth Herald said, “Our interests were her interests.” I never accepted corporate PAC or DC lobbyist money. I cosponsored the Fair Elections Now Act and the DISCLOSE Act, because without campaign finance reform, we cannot tame the extraordinary influences of special interests that hurt ordinary Americans. I want to continue my efforts for campaign finance reform in Congress.

I served our military and veterans on the Armed Services Committee. As a former military spouse and proud wife of a veteran, I was especially happy to pass the new GI Bill of Rights that thanks our combat veterans with great education benefits. I introduced the bill to get a full-service VA Hospital or equal access to in-state care, and succeeded in getting more clinics and an acute care contract with Concord Hospital. Right now, New Hampshire does not have a Representative on the House Armed Services Committee, which is especially unfortunate because the current Congress’ vote for the Sequester has put New Hampshire defense jobs and jobs at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in jeopardy. I want to return to the House Armed Services Committee to advocate for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, its defense mission, and their incredible workforce.

Serving on the Education and Labor Committee, I cosponsored legislation that cut student loan interest rates in half and increased Pell grants for students. I cosponsored the minimum wage increase, which became law, and cosponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which restores a woman’s right to challenge unfair pay, also now the law of the land. I want to serve New Hampshire workers, small businesses, and families again in Congress.

I stood up for the New Hampshire environment. From the Ossipee Pine Barrens to land preservation around Great Bay, from the Presidential Range to clean water, I worked for funding to study and protect our environment.

I held seminars and workshops to help small businesses, including one in Manchester in 2010 to help small defense contractors compete for federal contracts that drew more than 150 people. I voted for the Small Business Jobs Act and eight small-business tax cuts. The Seacoast Media Group and the Portsmouth Herald wrote in their endorsement, “Voters who value bipartisanship will remember Shea-Porter’s outstanding work with her Republican colleagues from Maine and New Hampshire to safeguard funding for the new Memorial Bridge and much needed upgrades at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.”

We passed the health care law, saved the American auto industry and all of its jobs, and prevented a Depression. All of these were great accomplishments. But now we need to grow the economy, reduce the debt, protect Medicare from being changed to a voucher program, and help young people get an education and their piece of the American dream. I know we can do it—it is in the American DNA to tackle problems and succeed. I want to work on these issues for the rest of us.  I would be honored to receive your vote on November 6th.


Former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter represented New Hampshire’s First District from 2007-2011, she is seeking a third term in the November, 2012 election.  She wrote the proposal for and established a non-profit, social service agency, which continues to serve all ages.  She taught politics and history and is a strong supporter of Medicare and Social Security.


Peter Bearse - THE RISE of a NEW POPULISM

A rising new populism can become the heart of an America rising anew. What, after all, do liberals and conservatives have in common? It’s the recognition of “We the People” as more than the opening lines of our Constitution. “Power to the People” is the title of a conservative book, not just a leftist line. “The American Way” and “The American Dream” resonate with those on both sides of the political aisle. Some commentators have recognized that there is a common core of concerns animating both Tea Party and Occupy movement activists. The core concern is failure of political “business as usual” to serve more than the “One Percent” of insiders, crony capitalists, the “Best and the Brightest”; and other elitists who frequent Wall Street, Washington, D.C. and foster the incestuous interconnections between and among them.

The rise of the new populism is driven by both pushes and pulls. Reactions are push forces. The kinds of reactions that have fostered past populist movements are at work again. These are primarily reactions to failures of the economy. What’s new, however, is the realization that economic failures are partly the result of political and governmental failures. Each set of hands greases the other. Or, as the infamous South Philadelphia Congressman liked to say: “Money talks and bullshit walks.” Campaign finance reform has failed. 

A meritocratic market economy has built-in tendencies to generate and increase inequalities in status, incomes and wealth. These tendencies are aggravated by a politics driven by money and media rather than people. The implications are downright troubling for the American Dream. Why? -- Because the tendencies imply that the great American middle class is not likely to regain either prominence or prosperity. The loss of over 40% of middle class wealth is not likely to be recouped by economic growth. Thus, a politics cheered on by the old mantra: “Lean to the center” is not likely to succeed.

A new populism, however, can succeed. It can cross lines, bring people together and surmount barriers. Conservatives are right in saying “class war” is not the answer. Liberals are right in claiming that an “off government” attitude won’t work. The attitude that crosses ideological lines is a radical pragmatism that recognizes that the U.S. of A. is the oldest, greatest, constitutional democratic republic in the world. It became so by being the most dynamic, flexible and innovative republic. Continued progress to fulfill the American Dream depends on tapping the creative imaginations, common sense, innovative capabilities and dynamic energies of all Americans. This is the pull side, to be expedited by the “crowd sourcing” power of the new IT social media.

The American people need to pull their full weight. We know from American history how this can happen. Challenged by crisis, war and injustice, great cross sections of “ordinary” Americans have risen up to do extraordinary things. Push and pull reinforce each other, as great challenge provides a big push.

Americans are especially pulled by opportunity. If they know their votes are more likely to count in close races, they are more prone to vote. If they know their voices will be heard or their actions noticed, they’re more likely to speak out or act up. The challenge of unsolved old problems and looming new ones is far too great for existing elites, ossified institutions and a corrupt, dysfunctional politics to solve. The best and the brightest have failed us. Only “We the People’ can save our republic and advance the American Dream. This not only spells a new populism. It should drive it. Reaction, too, is a push; but a new, people-based politics does not flow from the word “NO”.

So then, where is the new political wave, and how do we ride it? The Tea Party (TP) and Occupy Movements (OM) reveal the thrust of it. They are both populist forces representing diverse cross sections of the American public. The are reacting to economic and political failings of the American system is ways both similar and different. Similar? -- Yes, in that both see crony capitalism, corruption and institutional arterio-sclerosis as basic problems. Similar, in arising from the grassroots, wary of self-styled leaders. Different, too, though, in attitudes toward government and social issues. Unfortunately, the differences are being highlighted by a media that loves to divide and conquer so that the media and the “powers that be“ that they serve, not “We the People” end up as arbiters and winners of political power games. Thus, instead of talking issues, people in both groups are too often prone to throw labels and lavish stereotypes. 

If, however, leaders can arise to build bridges, a truly powerful new populism can arise that generates a new people-based politics and cross-class campaigns that build authority to govern for (a) change. Citizens turned off by politics-as-usual will abandon the tired, old, sclerotic political parties and look to swim with the force of a rising tide. The old republic we know and live can be given new life. The American Dream can live again. 


How “We the People” can truly “take back” our government [an Amazon e-book]. Email:; March 3, 2012.


Jackie Cilley - It’s Time To Take the Streets Again

Does anyone recall any of the 2010 candidates running on a platform of eliminating insurance coverage for contraception?  You didn’t?  Well, you’re not alone.  There was not one word about doing something so draconian, but that’s what they are slipping through now.

In a continuation of attacks on the women of New Hampshire, including the removal of adequate protections against domestic violence, the NH House passed HR 29 to require Congress to allow employers to deny healthcare coverage for contraception.  In another amendment attached to a non-germane bill, the House is attempting to unravel 13 years of bipartisan support for healthcare coverage for contraception.

The Free State/Tea Partiers in our legislature are effectively telling New Hampshire women they don’t have the right to determine when to start their family or to control their own reproductive healthcare.

As utterly regressive as these actions were, a statement by Rep. Lynne Blankenbeker, r, Concord, was simply jaw-dropping.  During a committee hearing, Rep. Blankenbeker said the women of our state could avoid an unwanted or untimely pregnancy “with simple over-the-counter remedies such as abstinence or condoms.”  The first is likely to lead to significant levels of domestic disharmony and the latter has a high failure rate.

Our grandmothers marched in the streets and suffered untold humiliations to win us the right to have a say in governing ourselves.  Ladies (and pro-equality gentlemen), it looks like it is time to take to the streets again!


Carol Shea-Porter - Save Our Schools 

Newly arrived immigrants and American citizens with deep roots always have the same message for their children—study and get a good education because that is how to succeed. Knowledge is power and education is the key to prosperity, and everyone knows it. That is why Thomas Jefferson and others advocated for a public school system and Jefferson founded one of the best public universities in America. As Jefferson said, "Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppression of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day. . . . the diffusion of knowledge among the people is to be the instrument by which it is to be effected." Past American leaders understood the role and responsibility of government in education—to make individuals and communities stronger and more successful, businesses competitive and successful, and America safer and able to elevate its citizens' standard of living and quality of life. Do our present leaders share that belief and reflect that vision?

Unfortunately, and rather shockingly, education has become deeply politicized. When I was on the Education and Labor Committee in Congress, some members showed their contempt for public education by saying "government-run” schools, instead of public schools. They worked then, and still do, to discredit educators and dismantle the public school system, or to divert funding to private schools. Schools and teachers have received withering attacks from state legislators across the country who have tried to pass legislation undermining the curriculum, denying science, and trying to force the teaching of creationism.

Some politicians don't take ideological votes against schools; they just find it an easier target when cutting funding, and they don’t fully consider the consequences. Benjamin Franklin's words echo across the ages as a reminder and a warning: "The good Education of Youth has been esteemed by wise Men in all Ages, as the surest Foundation of the Happiness both of private Families and of Common-wealths. Almost all Governments have therefore made it a principal Object of their Attention, to establish and endow with proper Revenues, such Seminaries of Learning, as might supply the succeeding Age with Men qualified to serve the Publick with Honour to themselves, and to their Country."

Cutting school budgets is a short-term solution that will result in an even greater long-term problem. The US was already lagging behind other countries before the tea-party state and national representatives took over state houses and the US House. While NH is still doing well, a 2010 CBS series found that compared to 30 comparable countries, American students were #25 in Math and #21 in Science. Nationally, only 75% of our students graduate from high school. No lofty words can change the meaning here. We are not number one, and as the Vice President's wife, Dr. Jill Biden says, "Any country that out-educates us will out-compete us."

Money alone won’t solve all of our problems. But to cut funding when we’re already in a very precarious state defies logic and reminds me of the old and wise saying, penny-wise, pound-foolish. 

So, how foolish are we being? The Economic Policy Institute prepared a report showing how we under-pay our children's teachers. Almost half of teachers leave within five years, mainly because they cannot get ahead and care for their own families on the low pay. The New York Times highlighted one teacher in a 3/2/11 article. A high-school science teacher in her second year of teaching in a city was only earning $36,000 a year and had $26,000 of school debt, no car, and no house. She had to move home to keep teaching. Sadly, this is not unusual. We are also cutting essential programs that help children catch up or keep up, and we are not preparing students for today’s high-tech and very competitive world.

After high school, it is now even tougher to pay for a technical school or college. The NH legislature cut funding to the university system a staggering 50%.   New Hampshire’s 2010 college graduates were in debt an average of $31,048 (Union Leader 11/8/2011). Deep cuts are being made at public universities around the nation, and the national average debt for the 2010 graduate is $25,250.

It is time to talk to our families, our communities, and our legislators about the value and necessity of education. It is time to defend investments in education because they are investments in our children's future, our business' future, and our nation's future. It is time to save our schools.


Former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter represented New Hampshire’s First District from 2007-2011, she is seeking a third term in the November, 2012 election.  She wrote the proposal for and established a non-profit, social service agency, which continues to serve all ages.  She taught politics and history and is a strong supporter of Medicare and Social Security.