Monday, October 02, 2006

Community and Grassroots Politics in Vermont

I moved back to Vermont last April and couldn't have come at a better time in terms of political activism. I moved away from Vermont a year after I graduated from Marlboro College in 1999 to go graduate school. For a small state, Vermont is certainly good at staying on the politcal radar. Vermont was particularly in the spotlight when they legalized Civil Unions in 2000. This piece of legislation set the precedent for other states to pass similar measures that recognize long term partnerships of same gender couples. Would other states have been brave enough to pass similar legislation had it not been for Vermont paving the road? Vermont did have somewhat of a conservative backlash after this legislative, with the motto "Take Back Vermont" dotting the lawns of Vermonters who opposed civil unions. As it becomes more and more clear to the general American populace that the Republican administration is only interested in corporate profits, this conservative backlash seems to be losing steam.

Now Vermont is at it again, by rejuvinating grassroots politics. Despite a more than 6 million dollar political campaign Republican millionaire Richard Tarrant has not been able to take the lead in the race for US senate against eight term U.S. House Rep Bernie Sanders Guess why? Bernie's supporters have a strong community and are adept at the grassroots organizing that is essential to win a campaign in a state where people still discuss politics on line at the grocery store. Bernie's supporters may not write big checks, but they show up to events, volunteer to distribute literature, and can discuss Bernie's history and stance on key political issues. Yes, politics by and for the people actually still exist in this country.

I will write more about other Vermont candidates to keep an eye on in future blogs. For now, take a look at their websites. Scudder Parker , a former minister from Vermont's Northeast Kingdom and expert on energy efficiency is gaining the lead over current Republican Governor Jim Douglas. Peter Welch is gaining steam in the race for US house against Martha Rainville. Finally, Matt Dunne is running one of the most creative and people centered political campaigns for Lieutensent Governor I have ever witnessed. Politics by and for the people! It still happens here in Vermont and we plan to be a model for the rest of the country so watch out.


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