Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Dixville Notch

Over the past few evenings, Mark and I have been enjoying the highlights of the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary. It's an educational experience and a lot of googling for definitions of US political terms is involved. For example, most Brits have heard the term "Primary", even if it's just because Jack Bauer's first really bad day was the day of the California Presidential Primary, but one still needs to ask "What on earth is a Caucus?" and "What is the difference between a Caucus and a Primary?" Follow some of the links below if you're really interested.

We were also fascinated by the elections in a small town in New Hampshire called Dixville Notch. We watched the entire thing from beginning to end. The town is small and has a tradition of opening the polls at midnight and being the first to get a result, so they can televise the casting of votes, the counting and the subsequent announcement in real time. This year, only 17 people voted. It rather reminded us of Blackadder the Third: Dish and Dishonesty, wherein Baldrick stands against Pitt the Younger's younger brother as the candidate for the rotten borough of Dunny-on-the-Wold, which has only one voter -- Edmund Blackadder.

(As an aside, Blackadder is very well known in Britain and many of its cast are household names. If you're not familiar with Blackadder, you may be interested to know that it was part-written by Richard Curtis. You may also be interested in seeing Hugh Laurie as the Prince Regent and Rowan Atkinson as Edmund Blackadder. In my opinion, Blackadder is a work of Genius.)

Update:

It seems that there is an episode of The West Wing wherein there is concern about a small town in New Hampshire called Hartsfield's Landing (fictional town, but based on Dixville Notch).

Links:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: A Caucus-Race
The Difference Between Primaries and Caucuses
The Party Caucus: A Study in History and Etymology
PhiloBiblos
The Grammarphobia Blog
Wikipedia -- Caucus
Wikipedia -- Primary
Wikipedia -- Presidential Primary
Wikipedia -- Super Tuesday