On Sunday, we began our morning by attending church at the historic First Church of Christ, Scientist in Concord. We received a warm welcome by the congregation and were given a tour of the church after the service concluded. We thoroughly enjoyed learning about the church’s beautiful, stained glass windows, Mrs. Eddy’s role in the foundation of the Church, and the restoration process the church has recently undertaken. Having the unique opportunity to climb partway up the bell tower and ring the bells for those in the streets of Concord to hear was a highlight for many students as well.
After concluding the church tour, some members of the congregation joined us for lunch at the local UNO Pizzeria. During lunch, we spoke with the church members to better understand how New Hampshirites are viewing the upcoming election. We explored what issues are most important to them when they consider who they will vote for, as well as, which candidates have made the best impression on them to date. Similar to Iowa, national security was certainly a prominent theme in our discussion. However, many of the individuals present also spoke positively about Bernie Sanders, something occurred less frequently in Iowa. We hypothesized this might be due to the fact that Bernie Sanders was a United States Senator for the state of Vermont and is, therefore, well known in New Hampshire.
After lunch, students received a tour of Mrs. Eddy’s concord home. We enjoyed learning about the work she conducted while living in Concord, especially the effort she put into revising the Science and Health there. We also learned about her Pleasant View residence where she lived from 1892 until 1908. Though the original building is no longer standing, we enjoyed seeing photos of her home and hearing of the event which drew 10,000 Christian Scientists from across the country to her home in 1903.
Finally, we concluded the day by visiting with local political activists Arnie Arnesen and Dean Spiliotes. Arnie and Dean have both been involved with New Hampshire politics for a number of years. Arnie is a former member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, the first female Democratic candidate for governor in the state, and a former U.S. House candidate. She has been hosting political radio talk shows, providing commentary and analysis during election cycles, interacting directly with candidates and the election campaigns for many campaign cycles. Dean is a political science professor at Southern New Hampshire University. Arnie and Dean had a plethora of knowledge and experience to share with us and encouraged us to think deeply about the many facets of the upcoming election. They spoke to previous elections which have some degree of comparability but concluded that no past primary has ever replicated this exact situation. Specifically, we discussed the increasingly large role social media plays in the outcome of the primary, the effect of the unimaginably large financial contributions Super PACs are providing candidates, and the politically discontented population which has resulted in an incredibly large number of Republican candidates and one socialist running as a Democrat. Despite the success of the more unconventional candidates at this time, Arnie and Dean concluded the evening by reminding us that New Hampshire citizens have a proven record of disproving the polls and solidifying their candidate preferences only a day or so in advance of the primary.