31 Oct 2005

Let the erring sisters go in peace, but make them take New Jersey!

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In the post-1960s, Vermont, renowned in earlier times for laconic Yankee individualists, became a favored refuge for counter-cultural escapees from more densely populated states located to its south. Today, Vermont is more commonly identified with Ben & Jerry than Calvin Coolidge, and native Vermonters, derisively referred to as “chucks” (as in woodchuck), are regularly outvoted by recent immigrants, spoken of pejoratively in Vermont as “flatlanders.” The once most paradigmatically Republican state in the Union is currently represented in Congress by an Independent self-acknowledged socialist. Carried away by animosity toward the current administration in Washington, a portion of the Vermont flatlander population is talking secession.

‘Vermont still provides a communitarian alternative to the dehumanized mass production, mass consumption, narcissistic lifestyle which pervades most of the United States,” said Thomas Naylor, a former Duke University economics professor who retired to Vermont and has written a book called ”The Vermont Manifesto — The Second Vermont Republic.”

”Vermont is smaller, more rural, more democratic, less violent, less commercial, more egalitarian, and more independent than most states,” Naylor said. ”It offers itself as a kinder, gentler metaphor for a nation obsessed with money, power, size, speed, greed, and fear of terrorism.”

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Stephen Morris

I attended this conference, part out of curiosity, part because I am doing a feature story for the Vermont Sunday Magazine on the disparate groups that are rallying around the concept of “freedom.” Frankly, I’m having difficulty coming up with a coherent piece.

I would describe this as a gathering of old coots and young coots. They seem to have in common a delight in poking a pointed stick in the eye of the establishment, but I have a hard time getting past all their anti-American rhetoric. This door swings both ways, and if it’s so bad living here, there are other options.

There’s a town in Vermont (Killington) that has voted to secede, wanting to join New Hampshire. Of course, they will need to build a 40 miles bridge over Vermont soil, but aside from that, no problem.



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