Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Republic of Vermont

The United States of America, on paper, is an excellent idea.

Like all pure notions, however, the reality does not always live up to the dream.

Before right-wingers start screaming for the scribe’s head or immediate deportation to foreign shores (or airport tarmacs), let’s be clear: We should all, always, be striving toward, “a more perfect union.”

Those who claim some kind of perfection already exists are not really living in this country, rather in what they fancy it to be, which is not okay.

the scribe has been sitting on a very interesting piece published in the “Washington Post” over the weekend entitled “The Republic of Vermont.”

It is something of a radical manifesto of secession and how it got into a mainstream paper of record is as much a mystery to him as to you.

But it makes for interesting reading, the primary gist being that the United States, or its government, as currently constituted, has drifted far afield from the intentions of those who founded it, and that Vermont, with its hoary old town meetings, is much closer to the real thing and itching to break away from the Federal Frankenstein and continue a purer democratic experiment.

Here are some salient arguments from the second paragraph penned by Ian Baldwin and Frank Bryan:

“Over the past 50 years, the U.S. government has grown too big, too corrupt and too aggressive toward the world, toward its own citizens and toward local democratic institutions.”

highwayscribery likes the sound of that and couldn’t agree more.

“Vermont,” their reasoned rant continues, “did not join the Union to become part of an empire.”

And the scribe does not like owing back taxes to pay for that empire when he has needs much closer to home and more personal. It’s likely, when viewed from this rather selfish perspective, you might find an opening in your mind for some of the arguments put forward by these worthy gentleman.

And that’s what the possessive individualists, Locke and Rousseau, had in mind when configuring a society that would harness our self-interests to the benefit of the commonweal.

Here’s a little bit of Vermont history:

“A decade before the War of Independence, Vermont became New England’s first frontier, settled by pioneers escaping colonial bondage who hewed settlements across a lush region whose spine is the Green Mountains.”

Steeped in nostalgia for olden times, the scribe shivers at the idea of a world so empty and so rich in land that if you didn’t like the way things were run, there was a place to go where you could run them yourself. O Pioneers!

Continuing their Vermont-centric lecture, the writers noted that, “These independent folk brought with them what Henry David Thoreau called the ‘true American Congress’ -- the New England town meeting, which is still the legislature for nearly all of Vermont’s 237 towns. Here every citizen is a legislator who helps fashion the rules that govern the locality.”

How many of us can say the same about our civic participation and the configuration of our home state’s polity?

The next few paragraphs denounce the extant of America’s far-flung world interests and the lack of input most of us have (other than our tax dollars) in the administration of those interests. The analysis, once again, is a revolutionary one rooted in the Farewell Address of George Washington.

Remember him?

Neither do those running the country over the past few decades, infer Baldwin and Bryan, who continue with a fascinating history of discordance between their remarkable and independent state and the federal government.

They close the litany of disagreements with a 1985 tiff over a federal mandate to raise the drinking age from 18 to 21. Vermont wasn’t interested, fully confident its 18-year olds knew when to say “when.”

President Rayguns, who the scribe loathed then and now, blackmailed the state, threatening to withhold federal money for repairing highways. Vermont took the case all the way to those friends of the people, the United States Supreme Court, and lost.

Sound familiar?

Here in California, the state’s voters passed a law at the ballot box legalizing marijuana for medical use, but have not been spared the ugly site of mustachioed DEA stormtroopers raiding small operations run by aging hippies as if they were outlets for Al-Qaeda recruitment.

Who invited them to party?

the scribe used to blog on the issue of medical marijuana, but has stopped because, quite frankly, he’s afraid of the government, which Gore Vidal noted quite some time ago, has ceased to be our friend.

"It's simple," say the Vermonters, "The United States has destroyed the 10th Amendment, which says that, 'powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively."

highwayscribery recommends you read the piece which details the state’s growing secession movement and the arguments upon which it is based.

And Don’t Tread On The Highway Scribe.

1 comment:

ak47 said...

Thank you for sharing this article and your thoughts. I've never heard such beautiful words in my life...Vermont is truly a unique place. Perhaps other states will follow and there will be a bonified mutiny as the empire falls...ahhh we can dream can't we?