Candidate is worth paying attention to

Last modified: 7/13/2010 12:00:00 AM
The more we learn about Ryan J. Murdough's bigotry, the easier it is to see him as someone to pity, rather than fear. He seems less like David Duke than like Archie Bunker, more likely to stew miserably in his own prejudice than to start a white separatist revolution.

Murdough, 30, is a candidate for the New Hampshire House, in the district that includes Bristol, Ashland and several other communities. In a letter to the editor last week and in an interview with the Monitor's Ray Duckler, he spelled out his pro-white-people ideology. And in comments on the Monitor website he has spent the past year goading readers with opinions like this:

On racial diversity: "The United States was not meant to be a melting pot and the more "diverse" the country becomes the worse it will get. . . . New Hampshire is a great place to live because it is heavily White."

On the Civil War: "The Confederate States of America was the most constitutional form of government that the USA has ever seen. Confederate generals and leaders expected slavery to disappear peacefully over time just as it did in every other Western nation. Slavery was a huge mistake and we are paying for it to this day. Another big mistake was not sending them back to Africa."

On Jews: "Every group of people has been a victim at one point in time but no group of people has exploited their victimhood as much as Jews have."

On segregation: "During segregation, black fathers stayed around and took care of their families, committed less crime and generally were able to provide a better life for themselves and their family."

On white "genocide": "Nobody is flooding Africa with non-Africans and giving them affirmative action, special rights and privileges and free health care. Only white countries are doing this. Only white leaders are supporting this. Only white children are suffering from it. It is genocide."

You get the picture.

Murdough's views are odious, of course, and mercifully rare. But he's worth paying attention to. His candidacy offers at least two cautionary lessons to those who participate in New Hampshire civic life.

First, with a Legislature the size of ours, it takes a truly motivated citizenry to educate itself about all the candidates on the local ballot - but it is critically important. In Murdough's Grafton County House district, for instance, Republican primary voters will have the choice of five candidates for three spots on the ballot. The winners will compete against three Democrats in November. Murdough is running as a Republican. Clearly there's a significant difference between him and his fellow candidates.

Second, state legislators should rethink the rules for ballot access - not to keep undesirable candidates off but to help voters understand who's who.

Murdough is running as a Republican but actually has little good to say about his recently adopted party. "As a whole, I think they've sold white people out," he told the Monitor. So why is he running on the Republican ticket? Simple: It's easier to get on the ballot as a Republican than as an independent.

As a declared member of one of the two major parties, a candidate for the House need only pay a $2 filing fee. A member of a smaller party or an independent candidate must collect 150 signatures.

This system clearly benefits the major parties. And it has the benefit of keeping the general election ballot from becoming too cluttered up with non-serious candidates. But the party label after a candidate's name should help voters understand something about his politics. In this case, at least, the candidate doesn't even like the party he professes to represent. That doesn't do anything but confuse those hoping to make a serious choice at the ballot box.

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