To The Daily Sun,
I knew that it would come, the not-so-subtle swipe and spin from the incumbent state representative in Belmont seeking re-election in the race that I too am a candidate. I didn't know that it would be so swiftly revealing of exactly what has gone awry in our society.
In Mike Sylvia's Oct. 26 letter, "People who want state to run their lives unhappy to see my move here," he actually does a great job of exemplifying what's wrong with politics today. The title embodies ridiculous political assumptions and simultaneously proves Rep. Sylvia's singular focus on a world through his individual lens. I mean really — as if people that care about civic engagement and public policy are so consumed with his decision to move to New Hampshire, to the degree that they are "unhappy," would ever be true. Both of his assumptions are poppycock, plain and simple, but the letter does make clear that Mr. Sylvia is obsessed with some bizarre fictitious government state that simply is not the New Hampshire I know and love. My life in New Hampshire has taught me to appreciate and respect the extensive and thorough way we pursue democracy, and dedication to our communities, in New Hampshire.
Mr. Sylvia likes the Live Free or Die state. I love the Granite State, and I am proud of who we are and what we uniquely do in this country. I, like so many others native to New Hampshire, have a much different view of what our beloved Live Free or Die state motto means. Mr. Sylvia, through his numerous votes in the Belknap County Delegation, has demonstrated that his interpretation of "Live Free," means he expects to receive all of the great things we have to offer through our publicly funded programs and services without fully paying for them, and "or Die" means that people will face the consequences of what he chooses not to appropriately pay for. I have heard Sylvia's rhetoric live, and watched he and similarly-minded politicians bring the elderly to tears, bring the "working-class" men and women (who serve us every day) to feel beaten down by his votes. That is clearly not reflective of the Live Free or Die state that I know in my heart.
We are a state that has consistently embraced the evolution of our society and democracy, from the nation's formative years through today's intense and often disheartening political discourse. We have not lost sight of who we are and what we need to do maintain our way of life. We work together, we invest in each other, we respect each other, and together we enjoy optimum freedom and we thrive.
Unlike Mr. Sylvia, I do not spend my time seeing the world through my individual lens or political belief system. Where Mr. Sylvia views democracy as something so weak that we are incapable of governing ourselves through a well-designed and honorable governing system that exemplifies, carries out, and defends our goals as a society, I have never given up on us. Where Mr. Sylvia is opposed to progress and believes his role is to "gum-up" our ability to move forward, I have always known that New Hampshire moves forward at its own pace based on the collective will of our people.
Mr. Sylvia's letter goes on to weave a disturbing and somewhat incomprehensible theme of obstructionism through incorrect analysis and bias on several topics. He bizarrely weaves his opposition to Medicaid expansion with the grave fears that the elderly (and nearly every other generation after) have about the Social Security Trust Fund. Sadly, he incorrectly mixes the subject matters up, reflecting his lack of understanding on some of the most complex challenges facing our families. What's more, his position shows how out of touch he is with the majority of voters. Medicaid expansion achieved bipartisan approval after a majority of citizens indicated their support for it. In other words, voters found the program an improvement to a tough situation, and they did not embrace Mr. Sylvia's affinity for blocking anything he doesn't like.
Mr. Sylvia also incorrectly interprets the funding woes for Social Security. He focuses on politically convenient rhetoric that is designed to spread fear and reactive behavior, rather than face the multiple factors that brought us to this risk; and he shared no potential solutions. The problem is that he isn't running for Congress and yet is using this rhetoric to justify his position on state-level matters in which his vote does count.
In another strange twist, Mr. Sylvia raises promise-making, responsibility and reality, as he invokes the state retirement system. He claims he lives in the real world and acts accordingly, yet he has done nothing to make good on the promise-making of legislators who came before him, and once again uses a completely unrelated subject matter to justify his opposition to Medicaid expansion. He doesn't mention his opposition to appropriately funding our Belknap County Nursing Home, our other county level services, or his proud opposition to our partnership with Gunstock, which many a resident supports.
It's as if he thinks he came to the state knowing so much more than we did about what's good for us! He doesn't. Collectively we do. We stand by each other. We fiercely protect our way of life and have flat out refused to be blinded to what needs to be done for us to thrive and succeed in a competitive nation and world. We do things uniquely our way, and although I haven't always liked how the chips fell, I have always appreciated that we have moved forward with pride in our democracy and passion for responsible governance.
As Granite Staters, of course we have welcomed Mr. Sylvia warmly, like thousands of others through the years. What we do not welcome is leaders that think that "I" matters more than "we" or that political agendas matter more than us. And I am thankful for that every day.