Constituent concerns take a back seat to tea with Santa, by John McGauley

Y ou can’t make this stuff up, the things that happen in politics; they’re so amusing. It’s enough to restore your faith in the truth behind the endless progression of the Human Comedy.

Here’s one that had me laughing: A bunch of young people from around here trooped over to Concord earlier this month with their concerns about some matters that, I assume … concerned them. As far as I could tell from the reportage about the thing, they assembled in the Statehouse corridors to speak about these things — getting the state weaned off fossil fuels; making sure students aren’t restricted in their voting rights by the evil Republicans; lack of efforts by the state to attract young people; and, interestingly and ironically, after you find out what happened, why the state ignores the Monadnock Region.

I’m not going to get into a lot of particulars about this, suffice it to say they were characterized as millennials — I call them kids — and their concerns were pretty much standard for this age group. It was a crew made up of members of the N.H. Youth Movement, the N.H. Young Democrats and NextGen USA.

Here’s the howler, though, and it was buried way down in the story, but I think it should have been the lead. After they had given their speeches and done their thing, they went over to Gov. Chris Sununu’s office to present him with their stuff, which I assume were petitions and statements. Here’s the punchline: They were stopped at the governor’s office door by aides who said that the big guy was busy entertaining guests in his office for what was termed a “tea event.” And, here’s the kicker: Santa Claus was at the governor’s “tea event.”

Like I say, you can’t make stuff like this up.

There are many things to say about this, not the least of which is the “Alice in Wonderland” aspect.

I guess a tea “event” is like a tea party, but the governor’s aides never use the term tea party anymore; no politicians do, since it conjures up the right-wing political group.

The visual of our big, burly governor sitting in a small, delicate chair holding a cup of tea, with his pinky jutting out, is pretty funny. “Oh, I just love this Darjeeling, don’t you?” he may have said.

Now, it’s not mentioned, but I wonder who was at the tea “event”? GOP lawmakers cooking up something nefarious? The kids from Monadnock should have waited outside the governor’s office until whoever was inside came out. I mean, who doesn’t want to see Santa?

Now, was it the real Santa in the tea event? Was Sununu presenting Mr. Claus with a wish list for the state? More bridges? More liquor business from Massachusetts? How did Santa get there, as there’s no fireplace in the governor’s office?

“Okay, you brats, scatter,” one of the aides probably said. “If you want to leave notes for Santa about what you want for Christmas, leave them at the receptionist’s desk out front. Make sure you print clearly, and sign them.”

Now, one of the talking points from this crowd was that Concord ignores this part of the state. Ya think? Of course, they do; if the entire legislative delegation from Cheshire County had shown up at the governor’s door instead of these kids, they would have been told the same thing: Sorry, the governor’s sipping tea with Santa Claus. Go along your way, get back to Dublin or Alstead or Swanzey or whatever frontier settlement you’re from.

The story of this incident mentioned that “Sununu’s office did not respond to a request for comment.” They don’t need to, that’s how unimportant we are in Concord.

Now these are young kids, and they’re naïve, but what they got in Concord was a swift fistful of raw politics. The governor meets with people who he and his aides know can deliver votes. A lot of votes. It was a “teaching moment” for them, about how real power works.

A “tea event” with Santa Claus trumps, so to speak, a vocal delegation from here?

Send a letter to the governor, telling him that we’re just mouth-breathing clodhoppers from the other side of Temple Mountain, but that we’d like to be included in the next tea event:

Gov. Chris Sununu, Statehouse, 107 North Main St., Concord 03301

John McGauley writes from Keene. He’s an author and local radio talk-show host. He can be reached at mcgauleyink@gmail.com

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