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My Turn: We need unity, not factions

For the Monitor
Published: 9/13/2021 7:00:23 AM

I struggle to understand why there are demonstrators standing in front of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center waving American flags and signs that read “No vaccinations, no masks.”

Such demonstrations did not happen when I was growing up during a polio epidemic. When the Salk and Sabin vaccines became available, parents were grateful that science had identified the danger and had produced an effective vaccine to protect children against it. Today, the United States is polio-free.

There was great respect for science and mathematics in the fifties. American students were encouraged to study these subjects so that our nation could catch up with the Soviet Union which had successfully launched Sputnik 1, the first unmanned orbital carrier rocket. A result? American astronauts landed on the moon in 1969.

What has changed since the fifties? In the fifties, the United States saw itself as a united nation as it faced common threats like polio or an atomic bomb attack from the Soviet Union. But COVID-19, like polio, is a demonstrable threat. So why is our nation splintering into factions that confront each other?

Here in New Hampshire, we witness this splintering in our state legislature. Many of New Hampshire’s lawmakers may have run as traditional Republicans, but they are really Libertarians or members of the Free State Project. They are truly RINOs, “Republicans In Name Only.”

Libertarians and Free Staters say they believe in individual freedom and the promotion of personal responsibility. However, the demonstrators in front of the medical center make it clear that their definition of freedom only includes their right to deny my right to protect my health and the health of others.

Our Constitution guarantees free speech. This does not mean that we can exercise that free speech by yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, causing panic, injury and possibly death. Reasonable people understand this. “Liberty Republicans” do not.

In politics, numbers do not lie. NH Liberty Republicans possess essential political power. Eight of fourteen Republican senators voted with the Liberty Alliance on at least 80% of the 25 bills tracked by the Alliance. 195 members of the NH Republican caucus aligned themselves with the Liberty Alliance.

No matter what he says, by signing the state budget which included several bills that might not have passed had they been required to go through the normal legislative process, including a full fiscal review, Gov. Sununu bowed to political necessity and concern for his own political future.

No longer can the governor call himself a “moderate” when his signature made possible suppression of women’s reproductive rights, and, through school vouchers, the transfer of public tax dollars with virtually no oversight to private education, as well as the threat of legal action to anyone who teaches the complete and accurate history of our nation. Libertarians have captured Gov. Sununu, who is now a Republican in name only.

(Janet Ward lives in Contoocook.)

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