A citizen movement committed to restoring Vermont to an independent republic, free to pursue life, liberty and happiness unimpeded by the demands of an imperial, corrupt and disintegrating United States.
But seriously, folks – what if a serious independent-minded candidate or slate ran on a Vermont independence platform? Hmmm…
One Vermont observer close to the action provided this assessment.
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For people who have lived in Vermont for years, perhaps for their entire lives, the 2014 Governor’s Debate was nothing new. A few promising politicians were placed within a litter of well-known Vermonters who run for office every term. For someone like me, new to Vermont and its culture, the 2014 Governor’s Debate was a bombastic clown car of lunacy, with a few recognizable politicians poking out the windows. From the beginning of the event, it was clear that there were really only two legitimate candidates. As a reflection of this, most of the other debates held throughout this election campaign only invited the two major candidates, incumbent Democrat Governor Peter Shumlin and Republican challenger Scott Milne.
The debate at Vermont PBS is unique, inviting all candidates to come to the event and speak about their ideas. Because of this, the audience was treated to Shumlin and Milne, along with a dizzying group of incoherent independents (Peter Diamondstone, Bernard Peters, Emily Peyton), a timid and unsure Libertarian (Dan Feliciano), and a complete whacko with sequins and a floppy hat (Cris Ericsson). The group was diverse for sure, but not necessarily in a good way.
The policy that was discussed was hard to decipher through all the nonsense. There were times where good points were made, and there were a lot of times where the moderator’s question disappeared into an abyss of outlandish claims and rants. At one point, independent candidate Peter Diamondstone responded to a question about the status of DCF in Vermont by talking about how kids should be paid to go to school. There was a fair amount of Shumlin-bashing, which was to be expected, but he kept his cool and had very…diplomatic responses. All in all, his impact on the debate was less-than noteworthy.
Although there were many goofy candidates and moments, there were still some solid ideas present. Personally, I don’t oppose all of the ultra-liberal ideas presented by some of the candidates; I just wish they were presented more tactfully. If you combined the ideas of Peter Diamondstone and Bernard Peters and expressed them through someone like Shumlin or Milne, the ideas could be viewed as revolutionary or inspiring. Unfortunately, the appearances of Ericsson, Diamondstone, Peters, and Peyton make their words virtually impossible to take seriously.
If nothing else, this year’s gubernatorial debate proved that the two-party system of government is still dominant in Vermont. Shumlin and Milne, the two-party and “actual” candidates, stuck out like sore thumbs among the laughable panel. I controlled one of the cameras for the debate (I am a Vermont PBS intern), the one shooting the moderator from behind the seven candidates, and the experience was like watching two lions in a herd of gazelles.