Announcing her run for governor, former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte said she’d fight to prevent New Hampshire from becoming Massachusetts. It was as if she had insulted Bill Belichick’s mother.
Lowell’s city manager demanded an apology for Ayotte’s factual assertion that his city has long been a source of illegal drugs entering New Hampshire. Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham compared New Hampshire Republicans, along with all other Republicans, to the patrons of the Mos Eisley cantina in Star Wars, though she lost points for calling the cantina a “bar.”
“In New Hampshire, as in the rest of the country, the GOP has become the bar scene from ‘Star Wars,’ dominated by extremists, conspiracy theorists, culture war obsessives, and cultish devotees of former president Donald Trump,” Abraham wrote.
How offensive. Not to Republicans, but to all other Granite Staters who were so rudely and unfairly excluded.
Let’s face it, the bouncer at the Mos Eisley cantina would let most of New Hampshire in.
To the rest of New England, New Hampshire is a libertarian-ish hive of scum and villainy. It’s a land of Yankee hillbillies, anti-tax zealots, bearded weirdos, flannel-wrapped survivalists, home-brewing crypto farmers and gun-toting charity gamblers.
And to be honest, there’s some truth to that. But it’s not for the reasons New England progressives think. They think we’re just backwards rednecks. In reality, New Hampshire is a refuge in the region that attracts people who value freedom over order.
Eccentrics and frontiersmen are drawn to freedom like goth cosplayers are drawn to sites of unspeakable evil.
Granite Staters have created a “live free or die” culture in which citizens are trusted with immense amounts of power, and government is rather tightly constrained. Here, 424 legislators are held accountable to voters in small, compact districts, governors are weak, and you can open carry into some bars (and cantinas) as long as you’re not drinking.
Massachusetts is a very different place. The most obvious difference is the preference for order over liberty. But it goes further than that.
“Apparently, our state is a freedom-hating, high-tax hell scape, teeming with drug dealers from Lawrence and Lowell who prey on the decent citizens to the north,” Abraham wrote in mock summary of Ayotte’s remarks.
Massachusetts does have:
- A 20% higher overall tax burden than New Hampshire;
- 32,000 more regulations;
- The 8th-highest occupational licensing burden in the country;
- More than double New Hampshire’s violent crime rate;
- A 40% higher poverty rate;
- And cities notorious for being narcotics distribution centers for northern New England.
If New Hampshire is the Mos Eisley cantina, Massachusetts is the Empire. Consider the similarities.
The Empire is run by a small group of elites who seek to consolidate power and impose order on the universe. If that’s not the progressive ideal, what is?
Massachusetts is effectively a one-party state where the primary political disagreements are over how much money to tax from the people and spend on behalf of favored constituencies, thus further consolidating the ruling party’s power.
One-party rule has created such political dysfunction that Beacon Hill has devolved into non-stop insider power plays that look a little like the constant infighting among imperial brass.
But most importantly, Massachusetts has for decades attempted to colonize New Hampshire by overrunning our state with its revenue agents.
From placing state police in N.H. liquor store parking lots to taxing the income of remote workers, Massachusetts has sought to leave no dime uncollected from anyone who lives, works, or has ever set foot in the Bay State.
Massachusetts literally sent troopers to New Hampshire to search for tax scofflaws, for crying out loud.
And the Bay State uses policy to maintain control and punish groups that constitute a challenge to its power. Last year it raised taxes on incomes of $1 million or more by 80%, successfully singling out both an opposing power base and an unpopular minority for financial exploitation and domination.
Massachusetts charges an estate tax (it’s one of only 17 states to do that). So even death is no escape from Massachusetts’ imperial reach.
The state even punishes owners of some businesses with an additional “stinger tax” on top of the regular taxes they have to pay.
Massachusetts ranks 7th in state tax collections per capita. New Hampshire ranks 47th.
Government power in Massachusetts is protected through taxation, regulation, and propaganda. The state and local governments take aggressive positions on one side of divisive culture war issues.
When reforms do slip through the system, the establishment does its best to crush them. The state allowed chartered public schools 30 years ago. But it quickly capped the number of charter schools, and in 2016 establishment forces defeated a parent-led effort to lift the cap. Charter school funding is limited by a law that sets it at a tiny percentage of what district public schools get, to ensure that charters never become a competitor at scale. Larger reforms, such as Education Savings Accounts, remain illegal.
Now, obviously, Massachusetts no longer employs the level of violence it once used to enforce conformity. Its ruling elite now use policy and social pressure to satisfy the Puritanical impulse to purge heretics and reinforce orthodox views.
That’s progress. But it’s unmistakable that Massachusetts values order and orthodoxy over freedom and individualism, and this preference feeds the growth of an imperial state.
All states need to establish social order, and all cultures develop social norms. Some lean more toward order, some toward liberty. New Hampshire has always held freedom to be its core value, even when it hasn’t lived up to its own ideals.
It’s not an accident that no accused witch was ever executed in New Hampshire.
Given the choice, we’ll take the place that elevates liberty as its core value every time. And we’re not alone. More than 100,000 Bay Staters moved out of the state from April 2020-July 2022.
And in a sure sign of flight from power, the top two destinations for Massachusetts refugees are Florida and New Hampshire, states that have no income tax and rank high in individual freedom.
A survey by a travel website found in January that most Massachusetts residents said they’d move to New Hampshire if they could “have a clean break and move somewhere else.”
Given the choice, people tend to move from oppressive states to free ones. That’s why people generally move from Massachusetts to New Hampshire and not vice versa.
So when New Hampshire politicians say they don’t want our state to become Massachusetts, it’s not frivolous political rhetoric. It’s not a gratuitous insult. We know we’re the last hope for New Englanders who want to live free from domineering government. And we want to keep it that way. Forever.