Unsustainable, Ungovernable, Unfixable

The myth that Vermont is somehow different from the rest of the United States was thoroughly shattered on November 2nd, when Vermont voters overwhelmingly embraced the American Empire in the campaign for governor. Democratic Senator Peter Shumlin edged out Republican Lt. Governor Brian Dubie with each garnering nearly fifty percent of the vote.

The tightly contested race was extremely negative and was billed by the media as a classic conflict between the neocon right and the neoliberal left. Although Dubie, unlike Shumlin, is pro-life and not very enthusiastic about gay marriage, both candidates made it abundantly clear that they were unconditionally committed to the American Empire.

Dubie and Shumlin each offered Vermont voters their own boiler plate jobs plan, health care plan, energy plan, and education plan predicated on the assumption that it’s business as usual in America. All one needs to do is roll with the flow and everything will be okay. But everything is not okay. America is going to hell in a hand basket, and neither Dubie nor Shumlin get it – nor do the voters of Vermont. Basically, the 2010 election in Vermont was much ado about nothing.

Brian Dubie and his brother Michael are probably the two most enthusiastic Vermont supporters of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Brian is a colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and his brother Major General Michael Dubie is Adjutant General of the Vermont National Guard. Both support the idea of replacing the Vermont Air National Guard’s aging fleet of F-16 fighter jets with F-35s which cost $115 million each. Major General Dubie would like to see the Burlington International Airport converted into a base for unmanned drone aircraft.

Although Peter Shumlin’s ties to the Empire are a little more subtle than those of the Dubie brothers, his commitment is beyond reproach. The tell tale sign of his loyalty to the Empire was revealed by the frequency with which he said in his campaign, “Vermont has the best Congressional delegation in America.” Surely, he had to be kidding!

Bernie Sanders, Patrick Leahy, and Peter Welch pretend to be political liberals, but they are, in fact, mindless pawns of the military-industrial-Congressional complex marching to the beat of Wall Street, Corporate America, and the right-wing Likud government of Israel. For starters, they support: (1) all funding for the illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, (2) the deployment of Vermont National Guard troops abroad, (3) military aid for the apartheid state of Israel, (4) the replacement of the Vermont Air National Guard’s F-16 fighter jets with F-35s, and (5) the highly racist war on terror. Senator Sanders is actively promoting a Vermont-based satellite station to be designed and built by the U.S. government-owned Sandia National Laboratories. Sandia designs, builds, and tests weapons of mass destruction. One can only speculate as to the real purpose of such a satellite station? Just what Vermont needs.

It is unclear whether Peter Shumlin and other Vermonters are oblivious to the fact that their Congressional delegation consists of three world class war mongers, or whether they simply don’t care?

Not only did all three members of Vermont’s Congressional delegation endorse Shumlin, but Vice President Joe Biden was brought in the day before the election to speak on his behalf at UVM.

So preoccupied were most Vermont voters with the pseudo ideological contest between Dubie and Shumlin that their only concern was preventing the other side from winning. They failed to see that the election was a complete sham. However, the entire farcical process left little wiggle room for an independent candidate for governor such as Dennis Steele, who happened to be running as an open secessionist.

Completely unaware that the United States was born out of secession, most Vermonters still equate secession with the Civil War, slavery, military defeat, racism, and violence. They seem to be completely ignorant of the fact that in 1989 five of six Eastern European countries rid themselves of their Communist regimes nonviolently, and that two years later the Soviet Union imploded. These were all forms of secession.

In spite of the paucity of votes attracted by candidate Steele, his campaign seems to have been perceived as a major threat to someone. During the four weeks before the election, Steele and the entire Vermont independence movement were the object of a vicious, CIA-style, cybersmear campaign. Three websites and a well-organized network of anti-secessionists bombarded cyberspace with charges of racism, homophobia, and anti-semitism. The exact nature of the relationship between the smear network and the hostile websites was unclear. What was clear was that the entire effort was extremely well organized and well financed. All of this to attack a gubernatorial candidate who had raised a whopping $4,000.

A week or so before the election Steele received a telephone call from a Shumlin supporter hinting at a job possibility in the Shumlin administration, if he were to withdraw from the race. Two other independent candidates for governor did endorse Shumlin.

In 2003 when we launched the Second Vermont Republic, secession was nowhere to be found on the national radar screen. Seven years later there is talk of secession everywhere. Today one finds countless articles, books, and websites actively promoting secession from the Empire. Yet where were all of these armchair secessionists when Vermont needed them most? Sitting in front of their laptops blogging endlessly about what one day might be, but not without their financial help.

The big winner in Vermont on election day was the American Empire. But the Empire is going down with or without Vermont. How much longer will it take before thoughtful Vermonters realize that the United States has lost its moral authority, is unsustainable, ungovernable, and, therefore, unfixable.

Thomas H. Naylor is a professor emeritus of economics at Duke University. He is the of Secession and co-founder of the Middlebury Institute.


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