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Susannah Colt: Our better angels have work to do

For the Monitor
Published: 11/11/2020 6:40:09 AM

The people of New Hampshire have spoken loudly and with clarity. A shout-out goes to the people who facilitated the ability of the people to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote. From the clerks, volunteers, moderators, counters, on up to the secretary of state, we can be proud of the fact that the process went smoothly and flawlessly, and Donald Trump isn’t sending his army of lawyers up here to file frivolous lawsuits.

In my small town of Whitefield, it took me seven minutes to vote and everyone seemed to have smiles on their faces, if I was reading their eyes right above the masks. Elsewhere I hear the wait was longer, but people were patient.

By the time we went to bed on election night, we knew the outcome of almost all the races because the margins were wide enough to erase any doubt.

By a seven percentage point margin, the voters decided they had enough of Trump and fired him.

By similar margins the voters decided they were comfortable with the old guard returning to Washington and rejected the attempts by outsiders to oust Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who won by 16%, Rep. Annie Kuster, who won by 10%, and Rep. Chris Pappas, who won by 5%.

Gov. Chris Sununu received a resounding vote of confidence (65.2% over Dan Feltes’s 33.4%) for his performance during the pandemic. What appears to be a fit of pique, the voters decided they did not like the idea of further gridlock in state government so the House, Senate, and Executive Council all switched to Republican control.

What does it mean that we are comfortable having the federal government run by Democrats, but the state government run by Republicans? Granted, it looks like the U.S. Senate will still have a Republican majority, but that was not how we voted. And the fact that a Democrat is president will hopefully diminish the animosity in that governing body.

I believe it mostly boils down to how the country is dealing with the pandemic. Trump failed miserably on that front. Gridlock in Congress stalled any further stimulus/relief packages. The election forestalled all rational thinking about how to handle the problem.

Trump ignored it altogether and lied about the severity of it. Biden made it the central theme of his campaign. In America, more than 10 million people have been infected by the virus, and the families and friends of nearly 240,000 people are grieving their loved ones’ deaths.

If you look at the Electoral College map and the coronavirus map side by side, there is a striking similarity between the color of the Republican states and the states with the highest number of coronavirus cases. One wonders if that is a coincidence or just dumb luck.

In New Hampshire, Sununu has convinced us that he is handling the pandemic efficiently and for the most part it is true. But do the numbers in New Hampshire truly bear that out?

According to, as of Nov. 8 New Hampshire has 12,241 total cases and that number is rising by an average of 200 cases a day. The total deaths are 489. Compared to Vermont and Maine, we are not doing well at all. Vermont has 2,390 total cases and 59 total deaths. Maine has 7,693 total cases and 152 total deaths. How come New Hampshire has more than Vermont and Maine combined?

We are heading into the darkest months of the year and probably the darkest months of the pandemic under the leadership of a lame-duck president and a state in the middle of transitions from one party to the other. It, unfortunately, does not bode well for this country.

A quote from Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address springs to mind: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

My hope is that the better angels of our nature will rise to the challenge. And when Biden takes office on Jan. 20, he can take the pandemic bull by the horns, take control over it, and provide consistent and honest leadership. The future course of the pandemic will be in Biden’s hands nationally and in the hands of the Sununu and the Republicans in New Hampshire. I hope for smooth sailing for all concerned.

(Susannah Colt lives in Whitefield. She can be reached at

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