By Don Keelan
After the last several legislative sessions, I am no longer surprised at how much time is invested by certain legislators in discovering ways to control Vermonters’ lives in any form of endeavor.
In three and half decades as a Vermont resident, I have seen Montpelier take control over health care, public school funding, land use, wastewater treatment, and many environmental laws.
Surprisingly, the legislature has not penned its list of “Blacklisted States” that Vermont government officials, as well as any state-funded schools, colleges, and nonprofit agencies, are not to do business.
The Progressives in the Vermont Legislature consistently follow their California counterparts. If it works in The Golden State, a state of some 40 million residents, it must be good for Vermont.
The Vermont Legislature may consider legislation prohibiting state monies from funding any visits or business transactions with states that have adopted legislation that runs counter to what Vermont vehemently opposes.
Case in point as reported in the July 2, 2021, Wall Street Journal: “California justified its travel ban against Texas because the state’s religious-freedom legislation allows religious foster-care providers to decline to place children with same-sex couples.”
According to the WSJ, California’s Attorney General extended the ban to cover other states, including Arkansas, Florida, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia.
For the record, I am in favor of placing children under foster care with any home where the only criteria are that children are safe, loved and able to flourish.
I am not in favor of the trend that advocates and creates boycotts and blacklists of states, cities, and businesses that “are not conforming.” This attitude came when the underlying premise of the Biden Presidential campaign was healing and unifying the country. So much for unity when boycotts are fostered.
It is not just the issue that California has with Texas’ foster care; look at the April planning of the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. That state was looking to adopt new voting laws that did not meet the standard of the National Progressives: so, boycott Georgia. A similar issue occurred in 2017 in North Carolina over the state law HB2 (bathroom law) that impacted the LGBTQ community. No NCAA basketball tournament games were to be held in North Carolina.
I can picture it now: the Vermont Legislature, which sends considerable money to the University of Vermont, prohibiting the UVM sports teams from participating in competitions with any state whose laws regarding civil rights, climate change, policing and social issues do not conform to Vermont’s. And it won’t just be limited to the college. An enterprise that does business with any state agency or nonprofits receiving state funding must not be located in a state that is non-conforming with Vermont’s progressive attitudes.
There must be a better way than boycotts and blacklisting. If we don’t find a way to avoid both, we will soon witness states pitted against one another. The economic devastation that could unfold would be incalculable aside from the animus among Americans. We must find the middle ground and step back from extremes.
We see this with Critical Race Theory, defund the police, and climate matters, all causing disunity. Another example is the damage the school mascot issues are causing in Pittsfield, MA; Rutland, VT; and Cambridge, NY. All provoking serious dissension between neighbors. Over what? A school mascot.
Polarization or vitriolic is no way to resolve what we are confronting today. As a nation, we have been through worse but paid a huge price. Let us find a path forward without incurring the cost. We have too many other serious matters to solve.
Don Keelan writes a bi-weekly column and lives in Arlington, Vermont.