On Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending that singularly Vermont phenomenon, the Progressive Party annual convention at the statehouse.
I love that experience.
As I’ve said before, being a big city/big state gal, born in Daley-era Chicago; after thirty years in residence here, nothing delights me more than a visit to the statehouse. It’s like a step back in time to the birth of our democracy, when nothing stood between the people and their representatives but an open door.
When the most viable third party caucus in America gathers there to do their thing, it’s icing on the cake.
And there was much to celebrate this year. Cindy Weed of Enosburg joins her Progressive colleagues in the House. With the addition of David Zuckerman of Burlington, Progressives have increased their representation in the Senate to three. Republicans have just over twice that number. Not bad for a third party!
Best of all was the win by Doug Hoffer, the first Progressive elected to statewide office. True, he ran as a Democrat/Progressive, but Progs know where his roots lie; and Doug was on hand to thank his supporters and, in his characteristically understated manner, kept his remarks brief, matter-of-fact and “stump-free.”
The keynote speaker was Kathryn Blume of 350.org
Following discussion and vote on a resolution asking legislators to divest all state managed funds from fossil fuel investments (passed), a brief recess allowed interested convention goers to join Anthony Pollina and David Zuckerman on the statehouse lawn where they participated in a demonstration opposing Vermont Yankee, and calling on the Public Service Board not to issue a certificate of public good to the plant.
Regrettably, I had to leave before Cass Gekas and Ed Stanek addressed the assembly; but it was noted that Ms. Gekas was the first Progressive to “crack” 40% of the vote in a statewide race. Ms. Gekas secured a respectable 41% of the electoral vote against a popular incumbent Lt. Governor; and Ed Stanek, who gamely leaped into the AG race at the urging of friends in labor when TJ Donovan was defeated in the Democratic Primary, managed to garner 6% of the vote.
Their performances easily satisfied the requirements for major party status, and I heard more than one joke in the crowd about how much longer the GOP might continue to enjoy that status in Vermont.
I also missed Chris Pearson’s presentation and the vote on a resolution concerning Super PACs:
“…Therefore be it resolved that the State Committee of the Vermont Progressive Party calls on all political parties active in Vermont politics and all candidates running for office in the upcoming cycle 2013-2014 to abstain from accepting any and all donations from corporations.
And be it resolved that the State Committee of the Vermont Progressive Party calls on all parties and all candidates active in Vermont politics in the upcoming 2013-2014 election cycle to agree that any Super Pac money spend on behalf of any party or candidate will result in a donation of half that amount of money by the favored party or candidate to a Vermont charity.
Of course I don’t know the outcome of that resolution because night-blindness forced me to depart in time to miss the 4:22 sunset.
…Yet another reason why public transportation, discussed as a priority following Ms. Blume’s address, remains at the very top of my own personal “to-do” list.