In New Hampshire, today is the day when all the campaigning, the canvassing, the phone banking, the debating, and the hand shaking come to an end. It's the day we primary voters send in the verdict and decide who gets to stay on the island and who gets sent packing. I assure you, it's not a responsibility we take lightly.
Over the past months our state has been under the most intense political siege in its history. We've had plenty of opportunities to become well-versed on the issues and build strong opinions about the candidates.
In fact, it would almost be impossible not to meet the candidates in New Hampshire. We're full to the brim with campaign staff and volunteers who've trekked here from all parts of the country. Signs are posted on every street corner and on every major billboard. Camera crews are in every diner and coffee shop. For the past few weeks, you couldn't make it through dinner without multiple campaigns calling to pitch their candidates. And the calls don't stop until you decide.
For those of you who doubt the "live free or die" voter, let me assure you that we know what's at stake. New Hampshire voters are aware of the challenges our country faces and we understand the struggles that are plaguing the American middle class.
Our state is like any state in America today. We're feeling the pinch of flat wages and the pains of healthcare benefits and retirement plans disappearing before our eyes. As we lose high tech manufacturing jobs, our economy is increasingly dependent on seasonal tourism. These service and retail jobs don't offer good benefits -- let alone the kind of career paths and wages that people need to support their families and get ahead.
In a state where some wealthy residents have really pushed up housing prices, many of us meanwhile have been laid out by the mortgage crisis. And with our long winters and often lengthy commutes, the rising oil prices are increasingly devastating. Far too many of us feel like we are on a sinking ship, and we've got to do something drastic before we drown.
I think that's why we're seeing people from all walks of life so engaged in this primary. Youngsters are motivated. People who've never participated in the political process are out there canvassing for their chosen candidate. Everyone is excited about the role we are playing in shaping this election, and bringing change to Washington, D.C.
Yesterday, I was with a slew of volunteers who came all the way from California and other states to support their candidate. They were worried that by the time their primary rolled around, it might be too late. They reminded me how privileged we are in New Hampshire to be deciding early.
America, rest assured that we understand the responsibility. We've got the best interests of the nation in mind as we go out to the polls today. All of our futures are on the line.
Diana Lacey manages contract services for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and is a member of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1984. In addition to her day job, Diana is active in local and national politics. In the week leading up to the New Hampshire primary, she's taken time off of work to canvass, and work the phones to get out the vote for her chosen candidate.
Just Work is a series presented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to give a voice to working people to discuss their daily struggles to balance work, afford life and participate in a more just society. SEIU welcomes submissions to Just Work! Please send your story (800 words or less) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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