Letters to legislators: We are dying the death of a thousand cuts

Editor’s note: This is part of TNR’s Letters to Legislators Series.

An open letter to the Vermont Legislature:

There are thousands of Vermonters, and millions more across this country, that are just like me. We are a diverse group, mostly rural, but come from all walks of life, and we are dying the death of a thousand cuts. Vermont legislators don’t understand us, even as they say they represent us. For years now, bill after bill is introduced and passed that erode our rights, restrict our freedoms, oppress our values and dismiss our heritage. Both economically and ideologically, we don’t matter to a ruling class that doesn’t have a clue who we are.

Public domain

Bill Huff: “The legislative onslaught seems endless of late. One bill after another bludgeon our senses of who we are and what we stand for.”

Many of us spend more days than not with dirt or grease-stained fingernails. We, or perhaps our parents or grandparents, grew up on beans and potatoes because they were cheap and filling, not because they are a trendy side dish for the rural come-lately. We wear wool because it keeps us warm outdoors, even when we work hard enough to sweat in the winter. Often, we are persons of faith. It’s not that we are poor, or uneducated; to the contrary, our lives have been rich with family, friends, culture and a limitless comfort with our surroundings regardless of where we happen to be. The natural world around us is as much our home as the walls and roof that define our houses.

We grew up in the woods, fields, the mountains and the brooks. Our tools can often be dangerous if handled incorrectly, whether it be a scythe, a chainsaw, a tractor or a firearm. We learned from a very young age to take care of our tools and handle them with respect. A rifle by the barn door, a pistol under the mattress, or a shotgun on the wall are as routine and innocuous to us as a bag of golf clubs in the closet is to anyone else. We grew up with guns and they are as much a part of us as the noses on our faces. I can understand that our legislators don’t get it — guns were never a part of their lives, and the cumulative experience of many, when it comes to firearms, is what they get from the evening news. What I don’t understand is the refusal to acknowledge that our traditions, heritage and our lives deserve the same respect, understanding and accommodations as anyone else’s. We are asked to do the same with every person we encounter regardless of race, religion, color or sexual identity. Tolerance is a two-way street.

They argue that we should be willing to put up with minor inconveniences. The magazine ban and waiting period are two that come to mind. We live in a republic, a representative democracy, and compromise is a necessary part of governance. However, our freedoms and the right to defend our families are not subject to compromise. We can, and must, compromise for the greater good on policy issues, but we must never think that any right or freedom can be subjugated away without endangering all of our rights. If we compromise our right to keep and bear arms, how far behind is our freedom of speech?

The unintended consequences of both the mag ban and the waiting period are anything but minor, and much more than an inconvenience. The mag ban will undoubtedly end competitive shoots in Vermont. Some multi-day shoots bring thousands of dollars of revenue to small local businesses and the Vermont tax coffers. A waiting period will be the end of all gun shows in the state. Weekend competitive shoots and gun shows are as much a part of our lives as Sunday tee times and tennis matches are to others. Two more parts of our lives are gone — two more cuts toward our demise.

The legislative onslaught seems endless of late. One bill after another bludgeon our senses of who we are and what we stand for. You can’t legislate away every problem, nor should they even try. “Freedom and Unity” is the Vermont motto. Limiting one’s freedoms for the sake of another, even though well intentioned, is not right, nor does it foster unity. On the contrary, it widens the cultural gap that divides us and emphasizes the biases we harbor for one another.

The Vermont legislature can and must do better to represent all Vermonters.

Bill Huff
Thetford, Vermont
Orange County Senate candidate 2018

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20 thoughts on “Letters to legislators: We are dying the death of a thousand cuts

  1. We (Vermonters) are misrepresented by people who think they know better than us how we should live. In their genuine arrogance and faux wisdom, they pass law after law whose origin can be traced to their adolescent feelings instead of facts, history and logic. Their narcissistic platitudes, an alarming number of which become law, are ill-conceived and promulgated not because the do any good, but because these preening would-be dictators want to read about themselves in the media, and how Vermont is on the “forefront” of all their nutty initiatives. Meanwhile, back in the zip codes, we’re watching our economy fail, with realities such as zero job growth, the highest tax burden in the country, the highest per pupil education cost in the country, etc. The eggheads in the Legislature really believe they can just pass laws that will make Vermont and their world into a fairy tale nirvana. God save us from them.

  2. I’m encouraged by the increasing sentiments expressed here. But ‘preaching to the choir’ is just that. I’m not suggesting anyone run for the legislature either. But I am asking you to go into the lion’s den of VT Digger and Seven Days to express your opinions there. While Digger may censor you, Seven Days will almost always honor your right to speak out.

    Don’t be emotional or rude. Address the facts of each matter – or the lack thereof, as is often the case. The constituency supporting life, liberty, property and self-reliance is clearly gaining a foothold. And there is nothing like momentum to carry the day.

  3. If every conservative in the state worked to over turn what is happening in Vermont things would change. Talk to people, get them out to vote if they don’t vote on a regular basis.Pay attention to what is happening in Montpelier and pass it on to other people.

  4. So well written and so true! My wife and I left Vermont for Tennessee late last year. Vermont was such an important of my life that I still follow what is going on there, and it saddens me greatly. I know I can be accused of abandoning ship but we finally came to the conclusion that the political makeup of the State had passed the point of no return. Our last option for defiance was to take our taxable worth somewhere else before it was too late.

    • My wife and I came to the same conclusions five years ago. My retirement pay, even bolstered by Social Security , was not enough to keep up with ever increasing costs of housing, fuel, electricity, and taxes. We left for South Carolina and got an effective $1000/month raise in discretionary income, plus the lower taxes and energy costs. I listen to WDEV’s live stream, and with every move by the Legislature I tell my wife “We got out just in the nick of time.”

  5. I posted this comment on another TNR article. Doing it again in case you missed it, it’s relative to this article.
    A good quote I came across, defines what’s really going on and explains a lot:

    Source, 12-10-1922: https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1922/12/10/109339923.pdf

    “The real menace of our Republic is the invisible government, which like a giant octopus sprawls its slimy legs over our cities, states and nation . . . The little coterie of powerful international bankers virtually run the United States government for their own selfish purposes. They practically control both parties . . . [and] control the majority of the newspapers and magazines in this country. They use the columns of these papers to club into submission or drive out of office public officials who refuse to do the bidding of the powerful corrupt cliques which compose the invisible government. It operates under cover of a self-created screen [and] seizes our executive officers, legislative bodies, schools, courts, newspapers and every agency created for the public protection.” – Mayor of New York City from 1918-1925

  6. Dan DeCoteau, you hit the nail as square as Bill Huff did, there is an agenda in Montpelier and it’s to gut the State. They don’t care what truth is, all they care about is getting their name on some legislation about raising chickens and what must be done with their poop, chip chip chipping away at individual rights and freedoms. “The tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of Patriots and tyrants” Thomas Jefferson.

  7. Excellent article and comments reflect the reality of The New VT not even in the same ball park
    as the Old VT. Ever since the leftist loons invasion and subsequent election of like minded flatlander
    leftards VT has become state of the AGENDA which is a far cry from representing the population.

    From Gays in the 1999’s to GUN grabbing and INFANTICIDE into the 2020’s It’s all about the
    AGENDA..Meanwhile the ol Vters have to beat feet southward to get relief from Agenda…and OVER Taxation without representation.

  8. Mr Huff, it sounds like you very well could have been one of our neighbors ; my brother and I grew up on a small farm in Franklin County, but the descriptions you outline are very , very close to a description of the way things were in Vermont in the 40’s and 50’s. None of us were rich, but we were all in the same boat. We were rich in the things that are being taken from us that a dollar value can never be assigned; our freedoms and neighbors to neighbors. It was the way we did things back then and sadly, we have lost much of those traits. In campaigning for a return to some values we have lost remember this. I worked hard for Bruce Lisman, as did others who were like minded, and Bruce took the Southern 4 counties of the state. If the other counties had seen things and worked as we did, Bruce may have prevailed. It will take hard work and perseverance, but it can be done, starting with the legislature. 95% of that cess pool, needs to be gone by the next election, or there will be nothing left, along with the passing of a term limit law.

  9. Bill Huff, excellent article…….. Yes, the Vermont I grew up in is gone and it’s only getting worse,
    we have allowed our values to be eroded away by Progressive Liberals running our government
    like rabid animals passing only agenda driven feel-good policies …….

    I was born in Vermont since 1951, I never had an issue with our elected officials, I may not have
    agreed with some of the policies written, but I could see their decisions had substance and they would listen & respond when written to, those days are gone also …. !!

    I never had any reason to go to Montpelier until 2016, that’s when they decided to try and take away
    my privileges within the second amendment and I have been going ever since, and will continue
    until we make Vermont, The Vermont I grew up in. That includes waving The US flag and keeping
    my guns……. They can go back where they came from, they’re not True Vermonters.

    Wake Up Vermont.

  10. Where were you Bill when a conservative challenged our progressive governor? Your words wouldn’t ring hollow if your actions showed you believe this.

  11. Thank you, Mr. Huff! I agree with you 100% and I believe you are speaking for the majority of Vermonters. Either our representatives aren’t listening or they are ignoring us because they think they know better.

  12. I’ll be one of the first to comment. First, this man gets it unfortunately he lost his election to the Vermont senate to Mark McDonald who is another fossil of the democratic senate. A democrat (McDonald) who has been in the senate far too long and has continuously voted against Vermonters rights and interests as an ideologue of his party. The voters of Orange county choose him over this reasoned voice.

    Today I had to read about a disturbing senate vote to add an unlimited abortion right for women to be added to the Vermont constitution under the guise of reproductive rights. At a hearing on the firearms waiting period, Maxine Grad angrily graveled her disrespect of the 1st amendment for waving the American flag calling the little fags banners. Another disgraceful exhibition of a power hungry progressive formerly from New York. Phil Baruth and Martin LaLonde two more aggressive anti-freedom law makers (also implants from other states) from Chittendon Kingdom ignoring previous supreme court decisions to again squash Vermonters freedoms by proposing unconstitutional firearms restrictions. Bill after bill to tax and spend and to create more socialist programs and others to heal the earth from Vermont. Yes, death by a thousand cuts.

    As Vermonters, we are not being represented we are being ruled. Some people on this thread think that compromise is the answer. How can you compromise with an iron clad ideology by the left to fundamentally change Vermont and to control all of it’s people all of the time? There is no compromise with these people. All of the republicans in the senate except two from Rutland voted for the travesty of infanticide. Where are the republicans or conservative with any sense of decency? If this abortion bill becomes a constitutional amendment I am leaving Vermont after almost 7 decades.

    I am so frustrated with the direction of this state that I have to leave the state I was born in and love. I don’t have any answers and it appears that no one is listening other than a few. We have lost the media, our comments are censored, our children are indoctrinated, our schools fly the Black Lives Matter flag as though we have a racial problem and our small businesses have disappeared. I travel the state for work and see the empty store fronts in all the small towns. No opportunities for the youth to learn their first job, we have an opioid drug problem, we are a playground for the well to do and our people work in service jobs to wait on them with no benefits, retirement or promotions. We put teachers on a pedestal, give them decent wages, pay for their health care and retirement but they turn out students unable and unprepared for the real world.

    I think you can read and hear my despair. I would have left here years ago if I had known this is what would happen to my Vermont. Where are the Dick Snellings, the Jim Douglases, the Dean Davises the leaders to correct this Titanic state that is rapidly sinking to the bottom. As a semi-retired widower I can barely keep my modest house heated in the winter, food is expensive, they have added more tax to the fossil fuels needed for heat, the roads are a disgrace, our bridges are crumbling and the state is billions in debt. I just can’t stick around to see the demise. There is a better life out there. Unfortunately, I may have to go find it unless Vermonters come to their senses and vote these people out of office and away from our constitution. God help us!

  13. Well stated Mr.Huff and I agree with you 100%. They are not going to listen to us for their agenda is to take away our rights by any means and they are backed by big money.
    We really need to come together and vote them out.

  14. I’m pretty sure their attitude is: “Well, if you don’t like it, vote us out!” — knowing they have throngs of virtue-signalling college kids and welfare recipients to prevent that from happening.

  15. Excellent letter Mr Huff, I hope these people who are killing us all, will get the chance to read this!!
    ARE YOU LISTENING VT LEGISLATORS??????

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