by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
October 28, 2010
FISH, BARREL, GUN
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Not that I have anything bad to say about airline pilots. We trust them with our lives, and God bless them, everyone.
But we're not talking about a plane here. We're talking about a new governor for Vermont.
We're living in a strange time, in a long run-on sentence that never seems to end, like this one:. Black is white and up is down and the country's founding principle regarding the separation of church and state is considered heretic and corporations are considered people and Republicans feel disenfranchised by the right and regular voters think the President of the United States is a Muslim terrorist and the last president we had regrets only that he didn't privatize Social Security - and this is with the benefit of hindsight after the great stock market crash of 2007-08.
So it's natural to feel confused, But not in Vermont, not when it comes to voting for Democratic Vermont Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin for governor. He's smart. He's articulate. He's energetic. He's creative. He's brave. He's funny. He's worked with state budgets for years. He's already brought important social change. He has innovative ideas that will improve our future.
His Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, is an airline pilot. He has no experience writing state budgets. He has no experience writing policy. He has no experience passing legislation. He has no experience in management.
In fact, it might be fair to ask who would actually run the state if Dubie was elected governor. Or -best case scenario - can we afford such a steep learning curve?
Deciding to vote for Shumlin is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.
For the past eight years, Vermont has been stagnant.
First, we missed the chance to have some energy independence when our current governor, Republican Jim Douglas, refused to buy the dams in Bellows Falls. We still don't have high-speed Internet access all across the state. We have to buy our wind power from New Hampshire. We allow an aging and leaky nuclear power plant - designed to close in 2012 - to run on and on. And this in spite of its tritium leaks, and the fact that it's owned by a corporate bandit who makes BP look benign.
It was Douglas who first brought Karl Rovian scare tactics to Vermont politics. It was Douglas who vetoed gay marriage. It was Douglas who fought against health care reform (and then took full credit for Catamount after he lost the fight). It was Douglas who put PR people in every state department -increasing the state payroll - while crying poor and trying to shake the teachers loose from their well-deserved union contracts.
And after eight years of Republican leadership, where do we wind up on Forbes Magazine's list of states that are good for business? Down at the bottom.
The best thing I can say about Douglas is that he's spent his adult life on the government payroll. He was elected to the House after graduating from college. He was Secretary of State for 12 years. He was state treasurer for eight years and governor for another eight. Under his leadership, Vermont's bond rating came to be the best in New England and one of the best in the nation. At the very least, he has some experience.
Now Dubie is asking us to let him replace Douglas. And he's an airline pilot.
It's a shame on all Vermonters that this contest is considered "too close to call."
I've even heard talk that Shumlin's best chance of winning is to keep Dubie below 50 percent of the vote; then, according to the Vermont Constitution, the election goes to the House, where the Democrats will most likely remain in the majority.
But now, less than a week before the election, the momentum may be shifting. Liberty Union Party candidate Ben Mitchell is withdrawing from the race and endorsing Shumlin.
The usually Republican Burlington Free Press endorsed Shumlin on Sunday. "The critical characteristic is that he will get things done," the Freep said. "Vermont continues to struggle to rise above the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. A steady hand to maintain the status quo is no longer sufficient to move this state forward - socially and economically. This state can no longer afford a governor who would see blocking legislation as the major accomplishments of his tenure."
The Bennington Banner also endorsed Shumlin, saying, "We also were discouraged by Mr. Dubie's negative campaign, which smacks of the tactics of national Republican consultants like Karl Rove and has no place in Vermont. His ads have been too slick and cynical and tended to discourage honest debate in favor of daily dubious digs at Mr. Shumlin. Senator Shumlin has shown he is ready to serve as governor of Vermont."
And the Addison County Independent asked,"A time to hunker down or move forward? Shumlin for governor."
Vote for Shumlin on Tuesday. Fish, barrel, gun.
Joyce Marcel (joycemarcel.com) is a journalist and columnist. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.