Wednesday, March 02, 2005

This is What Democracy Looks Like

Anyone that's ever driven over the Massachusetts or New York borders into Vermont can tell you that it's a, well, interesting place. There is no other state in America quite like Vermont. I mean that as an extreme compliment, in a Bob-and-Joanna (Newhart) quirky kind of way.

Here's a great way to think about Vermont - the Kurdistan of the United States. While it is 1/50th of a bigger whole, it operates as almost an autonomous state. The dual concepts of free thinking and local governance, via Town Meeting, is the foundation for this autonomy.

It's heartening, then, to see that over the past couple of days a state that is truly (in the main) conservative has, at the grassroots level, voted overwhelmingly to pass resolutions, town by town, condemning the war in Iraq and calling for an immediate return of Vermont's National Guard troops.

Hey, it's a start. "Trends" begin with less.    From the San Francisco Chronicle:

On Town Meeting Day, a venerable New England tradition that dates to the 17th century and has been hailed as a paradigm of representative democracy, voters in 52 Vermont towns, more than one-fifth of the state's 246 municipalities, became perhaps the first in the country to participate in a formal referendum on U.S. involvement in Iraq.

By Tuesday evening -- it snowed all day long -- 38 of the 52 towns had passed a version of a resolution that asked state legislators to study the local impact of Guard deployments, the congressional delegation to reassert state authority over National Guard units, and the federal government to bring U.S. troops home from the war. Three defeated it and three tabled it, while other towns had not yet tallied their votes...

Democracy Now! has more.

Town-by-town results.

What is a Town Meeting?

Oh, and the title of this posting? From my memory banks.