by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
March 23, 2006
WHY RIGHT-WINGERS HATE VERMONT - AND WE DON'T CARE
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- It's weird how one little state can be the target of so much right-wing hatred.
People wanted to boycott Vermont in 2000 because we were the first state to approve civil unions for gay couples.
Instead, the wedding industry in Vermont got a brand-new clientele.
People wanted to boycott Vermont in 2001 because Sen. James Jeffords left the Republican Party and tipped the balance of power in the Senate in the Democrats' favor for a few months.
Instead, bumper stickers that read "Thanks, Jim!" sprouted up all over the country.
Almost three years ago, Jonah Goldberg wrote a sputtering diatribe in the right-wing National Review that slammed Vermont as a "whatever-floats-your-boat Epcot Center exhibit of Green Socialism" and a place "with open-toed shoes and closed minds" that's a "madrassa for eco-jihadists," an "alpine kibbutz" with a "Sweden-like economy" whose biggest export is "awful politics."
Instead, Goldberg's intended target, former Gov. Howard Dean, now leads the Democratic Party and has reinvigorated its base.
Fox News Channel and right-wing talk radio screamer Bill O'Reilly called for a boycott of all things Vermont back in January when this state's legal system met with his disapproval - and then quickly backed down when he discovered that one of his main radio sponsors was the Vermont Teddy Bear Co.
And now there is talk of more boycotts of Vermont because five towns voted at their annual town meetings this month to support efforts to impeach President George W. Bush.
As with all the other attempts by the right-wing nuts to punish Vermont for its political independence and intelligence, this too will fail. The great majority of Americans who don't base their tourism decisions on politics apparently like our cheese, maple syrup, covered bridges, country roads, clean streams, family farms and foliage too much to give them up.
The crazier the rest of America gets, the more I am thankful to be living in Vermont. It's the next best thing to moving to Canada.
From being the first government in the world to outlaw slavery to being the first state to allow gays to marry, Vermont has always been a place that isn't afraid to be contrary in the name of liberty and freedom.
So let South Dakota outlaw abortion. Women can come to Vermont. There are no restrictions on abortion and contraception here and we still believe that individuals, not the state, should have control over people's reproductive organs.
So let Texas lead the world in executions. Vermont will still outlaw capital punishment and let people in prison vote in elections.
If Florida wants to pave over every square inch of its state and turn it into an endless sea of strip malls and cookie-cutter subdivisions, go ahead. Vermont will continue to ban billboards and put limits on development.
If Midwestern agribusinesses want to plant genetically modified seeds, fine. We're in the process of banning their use here in Vermont.
If I sound smug, you'll have to forgive me for being that way. Living in Vermont will do that to you. Once you get used to being in a place where life is still lived on a human-sized scale, you begin to think the rest of the nation is nuts. That's why a campaign to get Vermont to secede from the United States is gaining more and more support.
I'll have to admit that if secession succeeds, I'll miss the United States. It used to be a great nation. Maybe it will be again. But until the other 49 states come to their senses, secession might not be a bad idea.
Until that fine day comes, let the right-wing nuts find some other place to spend their money. Let them eat Velveeta and use Mrs. Butterworth's syrup (in the new three-layer polypropylene bottle) on their pancakes. There are plenty of other Americans who support what we do here and keep Vermont afloat.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 25 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at email@example.com.