Town Meeting and voting may be over when you read this. Super Tuesday will be over and we'll be close to determining who will be our next president. For those of you unfamiliar with Vermont's Town Meeting process it's nothing more than pure democracy. Townspeople come together to discuss their town's business (and sometimes other ancillary issues) for the upcoming year. There is not one event on TV, including the Oscars, that is more interesting than even the most boring Vermont Town Meeting.
The dynamics alone are worth getting out of the house for. Every town has someone who gets up and talks on just about every issue to the muffled groans and sighs of their neighbors. Then there are those who are terrified to get up in front of the entire town (or at least those who show up) and say their piece. It's terribly hard for some people to stand up at a microphone and bare their souls to all who'll listen. I have a great deal of respect for these people. They are the bravest among us.
The sad news is how few of us participate. Many people are now forced into working harder than ever and in some cases at least two jobs. They barely have time for their family; to say nothing about going to a Town Meeting. A fraction of the people of any town end up voting on important issues like the budget, which impacts everyone's taxes. Those who attend Town Meeting wield a lot of power.
It's no different at the national level. Very few of us end up electing our president. Voter participation has been exacerbated over the past few years thanks to a major political party's efforts to disenfranchise voters. Under the auspicious and unproven cries of voter fraud we have created an environment that now makes it much harder for many citizens to vote. It is perhaps one of the most disturbing and shameless things this nation has done and done intentionally. It's simple. Having fewer people vote benefits the party doing the disenfranchising. Fortunately, the great State of Vermont has gone in the opposite direction and worked hard to make it easier for folks to vote. That's the way it should be.
Ironically, the party that instituted this initiative is now panicking over the prospects of their soon to be front runner actually winning. The party that empowered the so-called "crazies" is responsible for the rise of Donald Trump and are now devising a plan to defeat him. They are keenly aware that should he win the primary that he may, and in all likelihood will, destroy the party that elected him. That could be considered poetic justice.
The other party has it easy. They only have to choose between an unknown old white radical from Vermont via Brooklyn or a highly recognized party stalwart who some worry might be indicted over emails on a server she shouldn't have used.
Oddly enough the only one in this race who has been consistent in his voting and his message for like 40 years is the old white guy from Vermont via Brooklyn. The odds are against him, but then again they always have been. The deck is stacked; the system rigged. Should Trump win the primary he'll soon discover just how rigged it is when he gets to his convention.
There are those who just hate politics and want nothing to do with it. That's a shame, because everything is political. Democracy is a messy business that only works when everyone's involved. Those who are angry have only themselves to blame if they don't participate. You can't keep electing the riggers and then complain about the process being rigged. If you don't like what you see then run for office yourself.
The first step is the hardest; standing up at a Town Meeting and saying your piece.
Bob Stannard is a resident of Manchester.
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