Our three electoral votes may not ever sway a national election. The interesting story - and what makes us a quirky state politically - is the not so easy to draw a line in the sand politics within our state borders.
While a majority of Vermonters probably will vote for the Democrat in the Presidential election on Nov. 6, which candidates a majority of us will vote for in the state races is not so obvious. The blog summed up our nuances this way, "First, although Vermont is liberal, particularly on social issues, it also has substantial strains of libertarianism and fiscal conservatism." Boy, don't we all know someone who fits that description? The blog's next point references Vermont's lack of party "bonding" as we have no party registration, open primaries, and that we are small - which means local politicking can go a long way. Although we might be open sky blue nationally, Vermonters are Columbus Day foliage when it comes to how we view the issues in our state. In other words, Vermont doesn't fit neatly into a box - most definitely not when it comes to state and local politics. The typical
I recommend going to the website and watching the Oct. 4 debate with all five candidates for Governor. This is the only one that actually invited all five candidates. Peter Shumlin, the incumbent Democrat and Randy Brock, the Republican challenger will also debated on Oct. 13 on WCAX-TV and on Oct. 17 on WPTZ-TV. Go online to find the streams. If you don't have a computer, your library does. You'll find there are televised debates for other offices such as Lt. Governor, Senator, and Representative.
If you look hard enough, you can find coverage of debates on the candidates for Auditor and Treasurer too.
Read other Vermont newspapers besides the Manchester Journal and the Vermont Newsguide. Our two area newspapers do a wonderful job covering local news and this is in no way a slam to them. (Seriously, it is NOT) They have a lot to cover here in the Northshire - do I expect in depth coverage of state races from them? No. I expect it from the Burlington Free Press though. And the Rutland Herald and Bennington Banner to some extent too. Set up a Google alert on your computer. If you set it for "Vermont," you'll get political stories along with other more slice of life stories that you may miss otherwise. Or, set the alert up with the names of candidates and you'll get the stories that mention them. You can set it so that once a day you get an email with links to related stories. A word of advice here - read an entire story, not just the headline.
Talk to people wearing buttons or with signs in their yard and ask them why they are endorsing a certain candidate for a state office. I have faith in Vermonters that they will be able to tell you why - and I doubt for many of them it is solely because of party affiliation.
Take five minutes to read the N.Y. Times blog post, "New" Vermont Is Liberal, but Old' Vermont Is Still There" (I initially found it through vtdigger.org). This won't give you insight into our individual candidates, but it does an admirable job of laying out our history to help us understand the quirks, politically speaking. This Vermonter is taking quirky as a compliment and a privilege. With this comes the responsibility to be informed. Let's not let our quirky state down.
Joy Slusarek lives in Pawlet.