Dirty Politics in Amherst

Our founding fathers also came together from many different walks of life to discuss debate, argue and finally reach a consensus on common ground to form our nation.  This nation is founded on the notion that different people can live together in peace, that different people can work on issues together and we can, as a people, solve our problems.  As a military veteran, I am used to working with a diverse group of individuals to achieve a common goal.  We never had a choice about who was on our team, we were put together, assigned a task and we set aside our differences and completed the mission.  It is with this attitude that I’ve always approached politics from the local level to the national level.  As such, I regularly attend different political meetings with a full diversity of views and positions and I’ve always been welcomed into their discussions.  In the end, we all benefit from the intellectual interaction, the sharing of ideas, and a common goal of solving our problems as a people.  This is the way, I believe, to get things accomplished and to keep our nation together as a free and independent people.  I regularly receive invitations to political discussions, workshops and informational sessions and I am on the mailing list of about a dozen different groups here in New Hampshire.  I look forward to good civil conversation, and a free exchange of ideas in a public forum.  However, not everyone believes that people with a different opinion are welcome in politics.  I met one such person at an informational event that I was invited to.  As a matter of fact, I was barred from entry and told to “F*** OFF” and to “BUZZ OFF”, despite having received an invitation for that specific event.  The event was an informational meeting of the Amherst Democrat party (AD), held at the Amherst Public Town Library, on April 17th, 2014.  The individual, who barred my entry and told me where to go, was none other than Graham Smith, the Chair of the Amherst Democrat committee.  He said this quite loudly in the hallway adjacent to the childrens’ section of the library, downstairs.  I don’t know how many children heard him, but I hope there were none present to be subjected to that kind of language.  If there was anyone present that overheard Graham’s profanity and belligerent manner, I would like to say that I had no part in it, and that I do not condone it in any fashion and that it is a shame that he said something as unacceptable as that in a public place. Even after being treated as such, I tried to diffuse the situation and enter into a conversation with Graham, but he was quite curt and turned his back on me and shut the door to the meeting room.  Quite frankly, I was hoping for another good informational session, like others that I’ve been to over the years.  I enjoyed the session about the town budget, the session about repealing the death penalty, the meeting of the OFA when we discussed, among other things, safeguarding the environment.  I enjoyed and learned a lot at the Affordable Care Act meeting too.  Every time I go to a meeting of minds we concentrate on solving problems, not pointing out the differences between us.  I don’t think I’ve ever been asked my party affiliation by any group.  Frankly, to me, that’s just an administrative technicality.  I’d rather view all of us as Americans gathering together to serve our country in our own capacity, not “US” and “THEM”. On the AD FB page, they claim to maintain fair, open and responsive government.  Graham said his party cared about people, but his actions showed that he only cares about those who join his party and kowtow to his views, and that he excludes all others.  The AD website claims to be for citizen participation, equality and political tolerance.  I’m still trying to match those with Graham’s actions and words.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not personally offended by his profanity.  As a military policeman, I heard vulgar language that could curdle milk, so a few civilian curses bounce right off my skin.  I must, however, look at Graham’s actions and words in light of our local, State and national political situation.  We as a nation are in quite a pickle.  Our economy is in shambles, our currency is debased and devalued, and our Constitution is being shredded right before our eyes while we are laughed at in the international arena.  We need public officials who are willing to lead, to foster cooperation and action.  We don’t need people who divide us, who use profanity to criticize different opinions, who slam doors on those citizens who want to participate in the political process, and who have better judgment than to be so belligerent.  According to the library rules, all meetings held at the library are open to the public, and all patrons must be treated with decency. No one can use obscene or abusive language or threaten the rights of anyone in the library. I believe, in the light of his actions, Graham Smith owes a letter of apology to the Amherst Town Library and to the general public as well.


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