November 16, 2006

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Concord Publisher's Note: The art of politics
By Dan Szczesny

There aren’t many members of U.S. Congress whose resumes include writing librettos for operas or songs for children.

But there’s at least one now—newly elected 2nd District Congressman Paul Hodes, who represents Concord in Washington, D.C., starting next January.

Hodes, a Democrat who defeated six-term incumbent Republican Charlie Bass last week, is a lawyer by profession, as are many other members of Congress. And like most other members of Congress, most of his time and energy in the next two years will be spent on the nitty-gritty of constituent service, as it should be.

But as a working creative artist, Hodes brings a valuable perspective to Capitol Hill—one that we hope won’t get lost in the endless shuffle of federal law and policy-making.

His artistic and creative credentials are strong. A native of New York, Hodes is a related to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Bernard Malamud, who Hodes says was called “cousin Bernie” by the family.

In his professional life, he’s one of the few attorneys in New England to specialize in entertainment law. As a community member, he was instrumental in reviving Concord’s Capitol Center for the Arts.

As a creative artist, in recent years he’s helped write stage works that have included “The People’s House,” a musical about the New Hampshire State Legislature, and “Oscar Wilde,” an opera about the life and times of the notorious Victorian author.

All of this means that when the voters of Concord and the 2nd District elected Hodes to Congress, we got more than just another lawyer.

We got someone with a unique perspective on the value of the creative arts. Judging from the kind of priorities exhibited recently by our federal government, that’s something that’s sorely lacking.

Let’s hope Hodes can make the most of this opportunity to bring his creative artist side to Washington and bring visibility to the plight of the arts in this country. Let’s also hope he doesn’t feel the need to submerge or hide this side of his achievements in the hurly-burly world of Washington politics.

The truth is, the arts are serious business. And yes, we’re never going to be like certain governments in, say, Europe, where the arts are fueled by massive state subsidies.

But we need people in Washington who know in their bones the value of a vibrant culture of creative artistic achievement, and are willing to get such issues on the table.