Maggie for governor: Of Massachusetts
Maggie Hassan might be an outstanding governor - of Massachusetts. There, her political views are mainstream. Here in New Hampshire, she is a liberal trying to win over voters whose beliefs she neither shares nor understands.
The defining theme of Hassan's campaign, aside from her strident negativity, has been her insistence that she will govern as Granite Staters want her to - not as she personally wants to.
Ten years ago, Hassan was open to an income tax while running for the state Senate. She lost. She admitted later that she changed her position because she "talked with voters who are really thoughtful about this issue, and learned from them about how important it is to them as well as to our economy and our middle-class families, that we solve our problems, fund our priorities, without an income or sales tax."
But in 2009 she helped insert into the state budget, at 1 a.m. on a Friday night, without a public hearing, an income tax on the owners of limited liability companies. She defended that tax for months. She eventually changed her position, she said, not because she was against the tax, but because so many other people told her it was not workable.
In 2007, Hassan sponsored a bill to create a mandatory seat belt law for New Hampshire. Opponents called it a nanny state act. Hassan told the Portsmouth Herald, "My chief of police does not look like a nanny to me. One person's freedom can be another person's burden." Her real view: Freedom is a burden to the state.
Asked about that issue during last Thursday's Union Leader/WMUR debate, she said: "As a matter of public safety it is worth considering, but I know how important it is for the people of New Hampshire that they have some personal freedoms like not having to wear a seat belt, so I think it's a hard decision for them."
Hassan speaks about the people of New Hampshire as though she were a galactic anthropologist studying a bizarre alien culture. At the same time she is striving to learn about our peculiar desire to "have some personal freedoms," though, she aspires to govern us. How can we trust her to govern the New Hampshire way - with genuine frugality and a passion for personal liberty - when she neither believes in nor understands it?