I feared this day would come.
Growing up, you have certain perceptions of both people and places. As you grow older you come to find that many of these perceptions were actually based in stereotypes and thus were grossly inaccurate. As you get outside your comfort zone and hopefully travel and talk to people of different cultures and backgrounds you come to realize that there really is so such thing as a typical "X-lander"; that people from a particular place might share certain accents, values, sports team affiliations, and political ideologies, but by and large they exhibit traits and characteristics that make them unique. I have been fortunate in my very own life to meet people of differing ethnicities, political views, religions, and cultures and I've found nothing more rewarding that coming into contact with someone who unexpectedly challenges my own beliefs and perceptions about what a certain area is like.
That's why last night's Republican primary result was so utterly devastating.
Because for me, as a native New Hampshirite, this result will forever tarnish the image of my beloved home state. From this day forward my home state will forever be known as the state that legitimized Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. My home state could have easily helped end this farce; with a fourth or fifth place finish the Trump campaign would have easily gone into self-destruct mode. Instead, my home state selected Donald Trump as the person they felt was most qualified to lead today's Republican Party. This result will ensure that Trump continues to receive free media coverage and will help give his campaign momentum leading up to South Carolina, where he has already established himself as the favorite there.
From this point forward, New Hampshire will always be associated with Donald Trump.
Which is a shame because New Hampshire has so much more to offer. The White Mountains. The lakes region. The seacoast. Covered bridges. Small farms and apple orchards. Spring hikes with your dog. Summer days at Hampton Beach. Fall foliage and the influx of tourists that accompany it. Winters on the ski slopes and indoor hockey rinks. An income and sales tax-free state. An hour's drive from Boston. A three-hour drive to the Canadian border. A four-hour drive from New York City. A state with great public and private schools filled with good, kind-hearted people who just want to do what's best for their children, who believe in the state motto of "Live free or die." A place where your friends' doors where always open and their parents would welcome you with open arms. That's the New Hampshire that each and every person should come to see.
But, now that reputation is forever tarnished.
It's tarnished because in the year 2016 in a semi-open primary, both independents and Republicans looked at 9 potential presidential nominees and selected Donald Trump as the person that most closely shares their values. These values include misogyny, racism, xenophobia, and sexism among others. This is a real life C. Montgomery Burns, a billionaire mogul born with a silver spoon, who systematically destroys anything and everyone in his path to continue building his empire. He does it ruthlessly and without hesitation; it doesn't matter if you're a competitor or a widow whose house just happens to stand in the way of his limousine parking lot. What matters to Donald Trump is the almighty dollar and he will absolutely crush anyone who attempts to stand in his way.
His hypocrisy is stunning. A man who thinks Mexicans are rapists and thieves but employs them to build his hotels. A man who has railed against immigrants but who is currently married to one himself. A man who stresses his commitment to veterans but "magically" got five draft deferments to avoid military service in Vietnam. A man who stresses he will restore America's reputation as president but who will bring back torture to help accomplish this. A man who wants to bomb ISIS' oil and then take their oil simultaneously. A man running to represent the party of family values who has been divorced twice and who has admitted to cheating on his first wife. A man who has lied repeatedly and rather than admit fault has doubled down on those exact same lies. A man who claims he can take on world leaders but who can't seem to take on Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. And this list goes on and on.
Yet none of this mattered to New Hampshire Republican primary voters on Tuesday. They put all this baggage aside and publicly proclaimed this man fit to be president. It is unprecedented in our nation's history to have a major party candidate with such extreme, hateful views. Donald Trump should fall to the dustbin of history for what he believes. It is vicious and violent form of vitriol that is unbecoming of a drunk uncle at Thanksgiving never mind someone who wants to be the leader of the free world. It is also unprecedented to have someone with no governing experience at any level run for president. Trump's idea of foreign policy is "making a deal" with major world leaders by telling them to simply stop doing what their doing. He'll surround himself with "good people" because running a country is exactly the same as running a business in his mind.
The people I still know in New Hampshire are all good people. They include my parents as well as some of my high school friends and their families. All of them went to the polls on Tuesday and had the good common sense to vote for someone other than Donald Trump. But it was not enough. Trump used the bully pulpit and successfully manipulated low-information voters to believe that our country isn't great. That Barack Obama's presidency has been a nightmare. That illegal immigrants are flooding our southern border and bringing heroin to New Hampshire. That Syrian refugees ultimately will bring a terrorist army into our country. Trump came into my safe little homogeneous home state and successfully convinced voters that he was the only candidate who would protect them against all the inherent evils in the world that were just aching to attack our isolated and protected enclave.
But the people of New Hampshire bought it: Hook, line and sinker. They were lied to and manipulated by a man whose entire candidacy has been one massive trolling of the American people. They bought into the fear that Trump sells. They were convinced that not only is America under attack but that Donald Trump is the only possible person to save us. For a state who's public education system consistently ranks among the top-third in the country, its voters showed an embarrassing lack of ability to discern fact from fiction when it came time to analyzing Trump's platform. Whereas Iowans finally wised up at the last possible moment, Donald Trump was consistently atop the polls in New Hampshire from summer until now. No matter what he said, no matter how outrageous, false, or manipulative it may have been, New Hampshire voters still found him, over all others, to be the Republican candidate they felt most comfortable in the White House.
And so, here we are. My home state played for fools by a reality TV host. My very own friends of friends most likely falling victim to this ongoing charade that is Donald Trump's candidacy. A man who isn't qualified to be elected town dogcatcher just got my home state's seal of approval to be the leader of the free world. My home state just told the world that we support the country's most racist, sexist, misogynistic, and xenophobic major party candidate ever to run for president. My home state just gave this man addition free airtime and helped boost his campaign narrative to "the comeback kid." My home state just openly legitimized the most offensive, grotesque, hypocritical, and manipulative campaign that this country as ever seen. And, worst of all, my home state just wrote a brand new chapter in every American history book from now until eternity as having gone on record as supporting Donald J. Trump for president in the year 2016.
That is the new reputation that New Hampshire earned itself tonight. From this point forward, I know there's a chance that someone will wince when I tell them I'm from New Hampshire. That a follow-up question might very well be "You didn't support Trump, did you?" I'll smile politely and vigorously shake my head. But the seed has been planted. Instead of being a purple state that just so happens to have the first in the nation primary, people will now think of New Hampshire as Donald Trump territory filled with racists, xenophobes, misogynists, and sexists. People will perceive it to be a place unwelcoming of minorities, immigrants, and Muslims. That is the new stereotype that each and every person from New Hampshire will have to face moving forward. Because tonight, with the world watching, the majority of Republicans and independents in New Hampshire spoke up and proclaimed Donald Trump to be the person they are most comfortable with leading the free world.
Myself, along with a million other people, will have to answer for tonight's vote for the rest of our lives.
I feared this day would come.