LEBANON, N.H. — Micah Wexler runs a fine barbershop here in this calm, old city hard by the Connecticut River and Vermont border.
The Lebanon Barber Shop is as comfortable as it is unpretentious. The customers are remarkably normal, many of them regular working men with regular families. They come here because Wexler is a good guy and good barber, the conviviality is unforced, and a men’s regular will set you back only 11 bucks.
And so, I am shocked beyond words that no one from the BBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, FOX, or any other organization with such letters managed to show up here with cameras in tow to ask Wexler and his customers how they intended to vote in the First in the Nation presidential primary.
Just about everybody who lives in New Hampshire gets some face time in the run-up to the primary. When the cameras run out of people to interview, they interview the moose, who, from my experience, tend to be independents.
Before the primary, Wexler dodged a TV crew that had set up in the pedestrian walkway outside the building that houses his barbershop. He caught a glimpse of Andrew Yang, who had a campaign office in his building. But in what some various Granite State chambers of commerce might consider heresy, Wexler’s not a big fan of the First in the Nation primary.
“I don’t know why everybody just can’t vote on the same day,” he said.
And, as another Presidents’ Day comes and goes, it’s a good time to consider the process we use to pick our presidents.
It’s nuts. Absolutely bonkers. The British, from whom we borrowed much before and after we threw them out, manage to hold their general election campaigns in a matter of weeks. We take two years, saturating the airwaves with stupid ads, making our campaigns more about money than ideas.
First in the Nation is more or less the New Hampshire Economic Recovery Act. The amount of money — the amount of attention — pumped into the local economy is nothing to sneeze at.
But there’s far less money and attention to go around to other states, like those who vote on Super Tuesday.
All the candidates pour a ridiculous amount of money into New Hampshire, a state that is hardly reflective of the rest of the country, and if they get spanked, their campaigns are effectively over because then, of course, they can’t raise money for the other primaries.
It’s not just about money. It’s also about attention. First in the Nation status confines so much of these deep journalistic dives to the deep woods of New Hampshire, while there’s far less resources put into the rest of the country.
But it’s way more about money.
As my colleague Shirley Leung noted in a column about how local TV stations (interestingly, the Boston ones more than WMUR, New Hampshire’s only station with a news operation) raked in millions in ad revenue, Tom Steyer spent almost $18 million on ads and ended up with what amounted to spending $1,671 per vote.
Heck, if he gave me half of that I would have gladly boarded one of those secret buses Trump keeps talking about and cast a ballot for the next president of the United States, Tom Steyer!
When First in the Nation primary day finally, mercifully, came along, Micah Wexler loaded his kids into the car, taking them to the polling station so they could learn about the importance of fulfilling a civic duty. As they were walking into the town hall in Enfield, N.H., his 8-year-old daughter Emma pulled him aside and asked him not to vote for Tom Steyer.
When Wexler asked why, his daughter said Steyer’s incessant Internet advertising kept interfering with her and her friends’ watching stuff on YouTube.
Emma Wexler is a reasonable child. Tom Steyer could have had her support for a lot less than $1,671.
As reasonable Americans, we should be able to vote on the same primary day.
Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.