The former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Thomas “Tip” O’Neill (D), used to say that “All politics is local.” In his time as speaker (1977-1987) this may have been true.
It is not true anymore, especially in Vermont. As evidenced by the midterm election, a very large majority of Vermont voters are clearly not paying attention to local issues. This majority is fixated on the presidency of Donald J. Trump.
The founders of our republic limited the powers of the federal government. The executive branch, the presidency, is one branch of our federal government.
The doctrine of enumerated powers — the main restraint on the new government — was most famously stated by James Madison (No. 45): “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce. ... The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives and liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State.”
The founders never intended for the federal government or any branch of this government to be the center of power or focus in our daily lives.
The Vermont voters’ feverish fixation on President Donald J. Trump comes at the expense of ignoring the major problems facing this state. Being angry at Trump and voting Democrat to express your anger does nothing to clean up the waterways of Vermont. It does nothing to ensure the affordability of this state for all Vermonters, especially the elderly and working class. It does nothing to fix the state’s aging infrastructure, put a dent in the opiate epidemic or protect our rural schools from being closed by the Vermont State Board of Education.
Every one of the Vermont Republican candidates who ran for office this term had a laser-sharp focus on addressing these issues and bringing this message to the voters. They were mostly ignored by the media and thus, the voters. Day in and day out for the last two years, media outlets in Vermont, specifically Vermont Public Radio, WCAX, the Rutland Herald, Seven Days, The Burlington Free Press, VTDigger and the Valley News, have made Trump a target who must be destroyed at any price. They have expanded this targeting to anyone who dares call themselves a Republican.
This scorched-earth campaign by the media is to the great detriment of attending to the needs of the people of this state. Without a balanced government, without checks and balances and a diversity of ideas, we will find ourselves in a state of financial and spiritual ruin.
Stuart Lindberg lives in Cavendish.