(All well-dressed machinists like to sport red berets.)
The New England town meeting has been long admired as a rare surviving instance of direct democracy in action, which gladdened the hearts of the democratic principle’s admirers everywhere by remaining practical and effective.
All that was, of course, in the old days, when town meetings were attended by crusty old farmers notorious for skepticism and common sense. Today, alas! Vermont towns have frequently been taken over by trust-fund bolsheviks and hippie tree-huggers, who bring a very different approach to direct democracy. Given access to direct democracy, these kinds of arriviste dingbats are moving to try to arrest the president and vice president.
We’re planning to arrest, detain and extradite him,” said Kurt Daims of Brattleboro, an activist who has sought to impeach President George W. Bush and is now trying to up the ante. “There’s a fundamental question here. If Congress doesn’t do this, shouldn’t it be done anyway?”
Daims hopes to gather the 440 signatures necessary to place an article on the Town Meeting warning that would call for the Brattleboro Police Department to arrest Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and cart them off to unspecified foreign entities.
“Shall the Selectboard instruct the Town Attorney to draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our Constitution, and publish said indictment for consideration by other municipalities?” Daims’ proposed article reads.
“And shall it be the law of the Town of Brattleboro that the Brattleboro Police, pursuant to the above-mentioned indictment, arrest and detain George Bush and Richard Cheney in Brattleboro and extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them.”
Daims joined a group of eight like-minded activists Friday afternoon for their weekly impeachment march through town. Beating homemade drums and waving signs calling for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, the protesters walked from the Brattleboro Food Co-op to the Municipal Building and dropped off a copy of the proposed article at the Town Clerk’s office.
According to Newfane Selectboard member Dan DeWalt, who made headlines when his town called for Bush’s impeachment in March of 2006, even if Daims is unsuccessful in throwing Bush in the clinker, his message could resonate throughout the country.
“Kurt saying ‘I’m going to arrest the president’ has no meaning. The town of Brattleboro voting to say they’re going to arrest the president does have meaning,” DeWalt said.
As to just where Brattleboro would send Bush if he was arrested, DeWalt said, “I know there are people preparing war crimes charges against him. I don’t know if they’ve officially been filed anywhere, but once they are filed that would give us a place to extradite him to next time he comes to town.”
Daims hopes other towns will be inspired by his quest and pursue similar courses of action — particularly Kennebunkport, Maine, where the Bush family spends its summers.
“We should do something Mr. Bush can feel. Maine is a very liberal state and I think this could pass in Maine, so then he couldn’t get to his million dollar family vacation resort,” Daims said. “They could arrest him there.”