Editor’s note: This commentary is by Neil Johnson, of Waitsfield, who was a 2018 candidate for state House in the Washington 7 district.
Vermont is ground zero for what is happening across America. Solving our Vermont problem is also the key to our nation. While we are known for not wanting negative campaigns in our state, we are also known for the most divisive and vitriolic partisanship. We are a nation divided; we are a state divided. Our landscape is perfect for healing our nation.
These divisions are purposely fostered and watered, cared for by those who are most prone to benefit. Like any plant or pet, what we feed and care for grows and becomes stronger. So is the case for division and politics in Vermont. These division lines are set, Democrats against Republicans; the lines are firmly drawn, and they dare anyone change sides.
But unaddressed problems in Vermont continue to fester, bubble and simmer. We have one of the highest minimum wages in the world, yet we cannot afford to buy anything. We have a school system that has been given massive support financially and emotionally, yet our educational system is collapsing under mediocre results and hemorrhaging of cash. Our families and children are torn apart and abused, and DCF struggles to keep up with the rising tide, much of which is caused by drugs, alcohol, abusive relationships and the inability to get a stable economic footing in our state. Affordability, school funding and drugs are issues left to simmer and boil.
These issues are on the fore front of all Vermonters minds, yet those in power would like to continue along our current path. Why? They have power and money, and for some it is in their playbook. They would like the division lines to stay Democrat against Republican, Vermonter versus Vermonter, American against American. Fear and hatred make people easy to control and manipulate.
The true lines of division are much different. May I suggest the true lines are American against the New World Order. The New World Order pimps have taken the Democratic Party from America-loving Democrats. Likewise the RINOs in Washington and Montpelier have taken over the Republican party — the kindhearted conservative Republican is no longer leader of their own party.
The swamps in Vermont and Montpelier are a highly protected and coveted class, literally and figuratively. The likes of the VNRC and VPIRG — extremely powerful lobbyist organizations — can grow and excel in this self-serving environment. Inside deals benefit the few, Blittersdorf, a multi-millionaire from your tax dollars, is one special recipient. Swamps, which thrive on crony capitalism, nepotism and socialism benefit the few at the expense of the many — it’s the basis for things being unaffordable.
Despite the world conspiring to run our state as a test case for bad government ideas, there is hope. A political reformation has started, here in Vermont — a peaceful reformation of citizens stepping up. Of course, the establishment will want to suppress and crush this challenge to power. Political parties and their bosses will often stifle the effort. This will occur by those within the party. Nonetheless, the genie is out of the bottle.
People like John Klar and his merry band of kindhearted conservatives, Cynthia Browning and John Rodgers represent the Vermonter. These, to the best of my knowledge, are defenders of our Constitution, and realize we are a republic. They are imperfect in the eyes of their own parties, yet they are standing out against the establishment swamp of Montpelier, at great risk and expense to themselves. These are citizen representatives.
My question is this: Will we put aside our differences and unite as Vermonters? We should not be a state where neighbor fights neighbor, where we are afraid to openly speak about politics. This is not the Vermont I grew up in. My Vermont was the place where the town hall meetings were productive, where after much debate an aged farmer would stand up and speak what was plainly wisdom, where people would pause, realizing the truth, and change their minds. Vermont is where mobile home sits next to a million-dollar mansion, and both house strong and stable families. It is where farmer is supported, not chastised, for the sweet smells of spring. Our Vermont does not have to be divisive — we need not be fighting each other.
Will these citizen representatives be able to bring our state together? Will these people speak with a soft tongue? Will they be able to avoid triggering the people from each other’s political parties? Will they have funding, support and companionship in their journey to bring better representation in our state? Will Vermonters decide to love their neighbor?
The choice is ours alone. May a new spirit of love, joy and peace cross our state, fostering this budding and fragile political reformation.