We often hear those who protest various political or social ills described as fringe, extreme right or left, angry, or other negative comments meant to marginalize whatever group is out of favor with the media and their political allies. Governor Sununu is a frequent offender in this department.
He repeatedly uses these inflammatory and inaccurate words to describe any citizen who chooses to protest his actions. It is a tactic meant to create division and betray a fundamental lack of respect for the citizens of New Hampshire.
The proposed $27 million federal Covid-19 grant (#9B and #9D) that Governor Sununu is pushing proved to be the proverbial “shot heard round the world.” With its questionable contract terms, it was alarming to learn this grant was even being considered, much less touted by our Republican governor.
The terms of this grant require NH to comply with future, yet to be determined, directives and guidance of the federal government as it pertains to Covid-19 and require NH to assist in enforcing those undefined orders. The fact that the governor accepts these terms as boilerplate government contract language that needs no explanation is mind-boggling.
Governor Sununu laughed off the pushback on these terms and categorized those who questioned him as conspiracy theorists and fringe. The burden of proof lies with the governor and elected officials to ensure the constitutionality of any agreement into which they enter. To deny discourse on any topic, especially one of this magnitude, is sheer arrogance and unbecoming of the office he holds.
It is against this backdrop of concern for state sovereignty and bodily autonomy and hot on the heels of Biden’s federal overreach requiring NH businesses with 100+ employees to mandate vaccines that a groundswell of support in protesting this particular grant occurred.
We keep hearing that those protesting are the anti-vaxxers or the flag-waving gun-toting patriots, folks whom the media and others cannot abide. While some who would describe themselves as such were in attendance, this is by no means an exhaustive rendering of the group as a whole. It fails to account for the vast array of political ideologies, religious practices, age, gender, economic and educational backgrounds of those at protests of late, including the Executive Council meeting held on September 29th.
What precipitated a group so widely varied to take off time from their jobs and other responsibilities to express their increasing dissatisfaction with their elected officials?
This grant attracted the protests of those concerned regarding the heavy-handed approach to the vaccine and federal government overreach. This includes those who are pro-vaccine but anti-mandate, those with religious and medical exemptions that are being ignored, and those who don’t believe in vaccines forced or otherwise.
It also includes those who are suspicious of the federal government and the usurpation of local control. I’m sure that most people had better things to do with their time, and yet there they were, exercising their First Amendment rights as a last-ditch effort to effect change. Their letters and calls went largely unanswered, and they are increasingly feeling unheard.
What are they to do?
If the government can force you against your will to receive a vaccine, the effects of which are unknown, where will it end? Arguably, 2A rights, parental rights, religious freedoms, and school choice would be in the crosshairs next.
Inherently, people expect to be able to make decisions for themselves and their families. As a whole, most would react unfavorably to the realization that, ultimately, the government does not believe we are capable or worthy of making those decisions.
What you are witnessing in these protests is a reawakening of the informed citizen. They would rather not wade into these waters, but when oppressed in this manner, they are powerless to refrain.
I understand why the media and some legislators try to diminish and marginalize this new face of protest. They know we would be too strong together, and they will do everything within their power to silence and divide us. These protesters are our teachers, doctors, pastors, employers, fellow employees, family, and friends.
It is time for us to rally in unison with our fellow citizens to fight against anything that threatens the sovereignty of our state and bodily autonomy. We need to exercise our First Amendment rights while it is still allowed. It is within this context that I can finally agree with the slogan, “We are all in this together.”
The next time you read an article or hear our governor refer to those protesting as fringe, extreme, conspiracy theorists, or any other condescending label, consider this quote by Margaret Thatcher, “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding, because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”