All posts by Mike McCarthy

About Mike McCarthy

I'm a guitar-playing Democrat living in Saint Albans, VT with my wife Steph and my daughter Molly. I represented Saint Albans in the VT House in 2013-2014. I care about good government, and a safe, healthier world for all of us. I work for an awesome solar company and love helping Vermonters re-power our communities.

Organizing in the Aftermath

I first got involved in advocacy and political organizing during the 2004 presidential elections. People around me at that time, and one professor in particular introduced me to ideas that I hadn’t thought about before. I’m going to list them here and then share a little bit about what I think they mean in the context of President Trump’s inauguration and the incredible mobilization of demonstrators for the Women’s March that followed this past weekend. I hope this spurs a discussion here on GMD about what happens next in Vermont and beyond.

1. Civic Responsibility – Our political institutions are inherently adversarial and require a diversity of opinions and ideas to evolve.

2. Privilege – The special advantages that one group of people has that another does not are invisible to many of us, but are real and powerful.

3. Organizing – There is a difference between strategy and tactics. Effective communications, field work and fundraising require skills that can be taught. Learning how to effectively organize and mobilize people is the way to bring about change in a democracy.

My first reaction to the Women’s March was something like “Where the hell were all of these people last year?” I was running for a seat in the Vermont House (a race I narrowly lost) so I was deep in the thick of talking up Democratic candidates, attending and putting on events, making phone calls and knocking on hundreds of doors. Over and over I heard people say things that scared me about hating politics, hating all of the candidates and NOT voting. I heard longtime Democrats say they weren’t coming to help work at the campaign HQ because of what the Dems did to Bernie or because of one of Hillary Clinton’s scandals.

A lot of people who were mobilized by the 2008 Obama campaign (and even 2012) were MIA in 2016. Why didn’t people feel the same sense of civic responsibility? Some thought that there was no chance Trump would win. Some felt betrayed by the DNC and the Party’s (very predictable) resistance to a challenger from the outside in the form of Bernie Sanders. People weren’t excited about Hillary as a candidate in the same messianic way they were excited about Obama. So, they excused themselves from organizing and mobilizing and the leaders of the Democratic party, including Hillary Clinton, had no effective message to fire them up.

What does this have to do with Privilege? The first campaigns I worked on were about global access to health care, especially HIV/AIDS treatment. I felt (and initially had to be called out) when I was 19  that my privilege and the power it gave me obligated me to do what I could to advocate for people who did not have the same privilege and power. I still feel that sense of obligation and I feel strongest when I help lift up voices that aren’t as powerful as mine. I was proud to work with Migrant Justice to get Driver’s Privilege Cards for undocumented farm workers. I loved working on the campaigns of women who were running for State Senate.

A photo has gone viral that to me captured a troubling aspect of the difference in the acknowledgment and the manifestation of privilege between serious advocates and first-time demonstrators, not to mention between white and minority participants in the marches. If you were wearing a PussyHat and taking selfies, please don’t take offense. I’m glad you were out. Thanks for demonstrating. Just listen to what Angela Peoples had to say, too.

Angela Peoples holding sign (Kevin Banatte)

The people I was trained by when I was bird-dogging John Kerry and Howard Dean while they were running for President in 2004 taught me that good campaigns have a clear strategy. Our strategy in 2004 was to get the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria funding by raising the profile of global health issues during the presidential campaign. Our primary tactic was to bird-dog the candidates, showing up at every public appearance and asking whether they would Fund the Fund. We had a clear ask of all of the candidates that was directly connected to the accomplishment of our goal.

Marching and demonstrating is a tactic- not a strategy. I spent some time at womensmarch.com trying to figure out what the march was officially about. Friends and family have told me that it was about “being inspired”, “making voices heard”, “solidarity”, “protesting Trump’s illegitimate election”, “protecting reproductive rights” and a host of other reasons. I could not for the life of me find a single concrete “ask” on the website.

Angela Peoples, the woman in the photo with the sign said,

“[Fifty-three percent] of white women voted for Trump. That means someone you know, someone who is in close community with you, voted for Trump. You need to organize your people.” And some people said, “Oh, I’m so ashamed.” Don’t be ashamed; organize your people.

Angela Peoples knew why she was at the march. She wanted to be inspired and she wanted to guard against complacency. She recognized that the Women’s March had to be the beginning of something, not the end of something. The key to achieving any of the disparate and diverse goals of the marchers would be sustained organizing and engagement.

So are you ready to take responsibility for your part? Are you ready to exercise and protect the privileges that we have to speak, demonstrate and run for office? Are you ready to organize? Come to a meeting, bring your friends. Organize your people. It’s going to be a long four years and there’s plenty of work to do.

Baby, It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over: Recount Monday

“So many tears I’ve cried
So much pain inside
But baby it ain’t over ’til it’s over”

-Lenny Kravitz

It’s recount Monday. For Representative-Elect Cindy Weed, today’s recount in Montgomery and Enosburgh confirmed her victory albeit by two votes fewer than the tabulators told us on election day. While Weed lost her hometown of Enosburgh, Montgomery voters put her over the top to take back her seat in the House from Rep. Larry Fiske who defeated her in 2014.

Franklin County Democratic Committee Chair Ed Ballantyne reported that Rep. Fiske raised doubts about the handling of absentee ballots at the meeting of the canvassing committee last week. (After elections, the Chairs of each major party or their representatives meet to certify the results.) It will be interesting to see if Fiske and the Franklin County GOP pursue any further action now that the recount has upheld the election night results.

For Rep. Sarah Buxton of Tunbridge, the election is still not decided. As of election night, Buxton, the Democratic incumbent, had the edge over her perennial opponent Republican David Ainsworth 1,003 to 1,000. The recount now has it as a dead even 1,000 to 1,000. If the courts certify the recount as a tie, then Buxton and Ainsworth will face off again in a runoff election. This isn’t the first time Rep. Buxton and Mr. Ainsworth have had a close result. In 2010, Buxton defeated Ainsworth, at the time the incumbent, by a single vote.

In 2012 I won a seat in the House by just 20 votes. I just lost a bid to return by 69 votes. If my race and the experiences of Rep. Buxton, David Ainsworth, Cindy Weed, and Rep. Fiske teach us anything it’s that voting really does make a difference.  Now that I’m out of the candidate business for the foreseeable future, I’m happy to be back at GMD. Hello again, blogosphere!

 

 

Carbon Tax Hysteria

I’ve been staying off the GMD front page during my campaign to return to the House, but I just can’t stay silent while the Vermont GOP slings hyperbolic lies in Franklin County and on the internet. Our friend at the Vermont Political Observer has been covering the fuzzy math on this, but I want to call attention to a couple of local candidates who are beating the drum louder and louder in Franklin County.

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 8.59.16 PM

I walked in to get some documents about my parent’s property at the Swanton Town Clerk a few months ago around the end of the session, and Rep. Marianna Gamache had left a petition on the counter.  It had a shocking headline: “STOP THE DEMOCRATS’ CARBON TAX!”

A Franklin County Republican once told me that there’s a big difference between being an advocate and being a legislator and boy does someone need to take his advice. The more radical Carbon Tax proposals have no hope of moving forward as is, but they bring up important conversations that we need to be having. I wouldn’t support a carbon tax that dramatically increased the cost of gas or heating fuels in a single year, but there are some related policies that are going to be critical to our energy and transportation infrastructure in the coming years.

One such policy, with bipartisan support, is moving from “cents-per-gallon” fuel taxes to a “vehicle miles traveled” approach to paying for our transportation budget. I drive a hybrid and get 52 mpg in the summer. That means I fill up half as much as the average car, and pay half the amount of fuel taxes. As cars have become more efficient, and some drivers have gone fully electric, the transportation fund has taken a hit. With alternative fuels there is a disconnect between how much fuel you pump and how many miles you drive. We have to make sure the way we pay for the roads is fair and doesn’t overburden a particular group of users. Wow, something Phil Scott and I agree on.
Another example is a heating fuel surcharge to support low-income weatherization. I’ve always thought that it was crazy to give heating subsidies to folks year after year (LIHEAP) when we could make their homes more comfortable and energy efficient with a one-time investment in insulation and other cost-effective weatherization.
So, would Mike McCarthy support a big scary carbon tax that radically increases costs to everyday Vermonters? No. I would however make improvements to how we pay for the heating and transportation programs that are smart policy and better for the environment. These energy policies will save the vast majority of Vermonters lots of money compared to the way we currently pay for heat and transportation programs.
Most of what you just read was published as a response to the County Courier’s candidate question of the week: “Do you support the proposed carbon tax?” Do you know what Rep. Corey Parent’s response to this question was? One line: “No, because we cannot afford it.”
Thanks for the thoughtful discourse on climate change and energy policy Franklin County Republicans. This is about what we’ve all come to expect.

Finding a Governor in the VPR Tea Leaves

2016: the year of surprises. Donald Trump sweeping to victory in Nevada and South Carolina this week has every pundit in the game eating crow. Bernie’s huge win in New Hampshire was unthinkable a few months back. That said, we’re going to have to wait a while longer to be surprised when it comes to the Vermont governor’s race.

The VPR poll didn’t say anything shocking on the subject of who will occupy Vermont’s top office next year. First of all- Vermonters aren’t paying attention yet, and that’s good news for the Democrats. Fully 2/3 of Vermonters are either not following the race closely or not following it at all.

It’s no surprise that Lt. Governor Phil Scott polls well. He is the only candidate in the race who occupies statewide office. He has the best name recognition. The casual reader might say that it looks like he has a huge lead. Only one-third of respondents said they could tell whom they favored in the Governor’s race so far. So, you can throw out the question that tries to stack all of the four candidates against each other. Democrats and Independents aren’t yet ready to say which candidate they support.

Republicans are clear about their choice for Governor. Phil Scott is the solid favorite on the Republican side. Bruce Lisman couldn’t hit double digits no matter how the question was asked. After all of the time, effort and (of course) money that Bruce Lisman put into Campaign for Vermont and his race the VPR poll must be a big disappointment.

Matt Dunne has a solid lead against Sue Minter across regions and demographics. Still, those who are not sure who to vote for make up the majority of Democrats, so it’s still anyone’s game. A friend reminded me today that Brian Dubie had a 20 point lead all summer long in 2010 as the Democrats were battling it out. Dubie’s poll numbers dropped quickly once the race was head-to-head.

My money says that Scott’s numbers will dive like Brian Dubie’s if one of the Democrats surges and becomes the presumptive nominee, and will definitely do so once the primary happens. August is a long way away at this point though, and a lot can happen in six months.

If Donald Trump or another wild candidate like Senator Ted Cruz wins the Republican nomination it won’t help Lt. Governor Scott’s chances of winning in November. While the conventional wisdom says Scott will be our next Governor, I think 2016 is the year of the unconventional.

Matt Dunne must be looking at this poll and seeing the opportunity. He has the early advantage among Democrats and if he can introduce himself to the 2/3 of Vermonters who aren’t paying much attention yet he may be able to do the unbelievable and beat Phil Scott in November.

Dr. Strangedrug or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Big PhARMA

I watched the Super Bowl with my father, and as a cord-cutting member of the millenial generation I will admit that the most expensive ad buys of the year are a guilty pleasure. My fave was definitey Mt. Dew Kickstart’s “Puppy Monkey Baby”. Great dose of weirdness for a product I will never buy.

The real shocker though was an ad for a new drug, taking care of a problem one would like to think only a small, small minority of Americans face. Surely the market of people suffering from Opioid-Induced Constipation is not so great as to justify a multi-million dollar Super Bowl ad buy…. but apparently it is.

According to CNN there were 259 million prescriptions for opiates in 2012. Percocet, Vicodin, and the big daddy of them all OxyContin. The U.S. Pain Foundation says 1 in 3 Americans are in pain. If the market keeps growing the way AstraZeneca thinks, there will be 10 times more people who are suffering from OIC in 2019 than there are today.

The reaction to the ad was swift. Federal, state and local law enforcement took to Twitter to voice their disgust. Gov. Shumlin weighed in saying,

“The irrational exuberance with which opiates are handed out in America is driving the addiction crisis in this country…Now is the time to change that, not attempt to further normalize long-term opiate use by advertising a drug to help people take even more opiates during the most watched sporting event of the year.”

There is a huge disconnect between the public health crisis of opiate addiction and the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries promotion of these drugs. The fact that these drugs relieve terrible pain in a powerful, some would say “miraculous” way isn’t a justification for their liberal over-prescription.

My high school friend died from a heroin overdose, and got started by using pills like OxyContin. Another friend found his teenage son dead. These deaths are preventable. We could decide to treat these drugs with greater care. Limit their availability to those who are severe pain for whom non-opioid pain relief isn’t enough. That is not what we do. Opiates are the go to for post-operative pain management and chronic pain management.

I once went to the doctor with a friend who had a severe sore throat that wouldn’t go away. She walked out of a short visit with a big bottle of Hydrocodone. It was like prescribing a bazooka when a BB gun would do. She ended up just taking some Tylenol and resting up for a couple of days.Is the elimination of pain really a healthy goal for a society when the side-effect is the death of our children? Why are we doing this?

The answer is so obvious and so banal, it’s become cliche: PROFITS. Last year Forbes did a profile of the Sackler family and their $14 Billion net worth. It’s a sickening read. It describes the way in which the Sackler’s company, Purdue Pharma took generic Oxycodone, added a time-release mechanism to “prevent abuse” and expanded the market far beyond the cancer patients that a powerful opiate like this was originally prescribed to treat.

“Someone looking for a fix could just crush the pills to break the time-release mechanism, then snort the powder for a heroin-like high. Addiction, overdoses and accidental deaths followed, and Purdue Pharma found itself facing charges that it had misbranded OxyContin as far less risky than it was.”

They ended up paying $635 million in fines in 2007. I bet they still crack jokes at parties about the tiny percentage of their billions this amounts to. I wonder how many people they know are hiding their opiate addiction from their families, switching to heroin when they can no longer afford the pills and dying as a result of the Sacklers’ greed.

Yesterday I attended a “Congress in your Community” event with Rep. Peter Welch. Former State Senator Sara Kittell talked about the need for more support for treatment and recovery programs. We discussed the success of some local law enforcement efforts. Everyone looked at me like I had two heads when I brought up the idea of limiting the amount of prescriptions being written for these drugs. Before you work on the symptoms of blood loss from a patient, don’t you staunch the bleeding?

Local politicians pay a lot of lip service to this issue, but they haven’t been willing to demand that we do healthcare differently or put up the resources for access to treatment and recovery programs. We have got to have a shift in policy at the federal level, no doubt. However, we could do some things at the state level that would make prescription opiates less available. This requires challenging the pharmaceutical and  healthcare industry and our culture’s obsession with pain.

In a way I wonder if we’re all addicted to opiates. I’m not willing to watch people in my life become addicted to opiates and die from them and then pretend that there’s nothing we can do to prevent more deaths. We know what we have to do, but I fear we don’t have the will to do it. The fact that it has become acceptable to promote the sale of a drug to treat a side-effect from opiate use during the most-watched sporting event of the year should be evidence enough that we have a huge problem.

Tales from the Trail: Bernie NH Canvass

I went down I89 and crossed over into the full swing of primary election GOTV insanity today. I rode into Claremont with my friend Nick, who happens to be managing Matt Dunne’s campaign for Guv. I’m proud of Matt for being one of the few Vermont pols to endorse our hometown hero. He’s walking the walk too, knocking on doors during the last push before the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday.

I teamed up with a Claremont local volunteer and went to work. At this stage the campaign is totally focused on turning out likely Sanders supporters, so the doors we were hitting were almost entirely friendly, if not enthusiastic.

One guy I spoke with was reluctant to tell me who he was supporting, but by the end he admitted he would be voting for Bernie in this, his first, primary. I guess there’s some truth to the notion that Bernie has the millennial vote locked up.

There were more than a few voters who would qualify for a senior citizens discount on my list, and many of them shook my hand and thanked me for helping Bernie win. One guy sent me across the street to talk with his son, and they both said that the primary was “serious business” and they’d be voting for Bernie on Tuesday.

At the field office, Franklin county native Lindsay Hunn and her sister Claire were  checking in volunteers and cutting turf for canvassers. It’s not surprising that  Bernie is doing so well in NH when some of the best field organizers from Vermont are staffing the campaign. Great to see them rocking it.

I’m hoping to take Tuesday off to hit the doors again on Election Day. Ain’t democracy beautiful?

 

 

 

 

Would President Sanders’ Agenda Be D.O.A. in D.C.?

The idea of a President Sanders has really grown on me. So much so that a couple of weekends ago I went door to door in Woodsville, NH talking with undecided primary voters about how much we “Feel the Bern” over on the Vermont side of the Connecticut River. It was clear that the folks who were voting for Bernie were solid in their support, but the Hillary voters were open to giving Bernie a second look. Anecdotal evidence, but it sure seems to be supported by Bernie’s continued surge in the polls.

So,  if Bernie can win New Hampshire and has a shot at Iowa, then maybe this long-shot candidate could actually be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States of America. Let’s assume that happens, and President Sanders is sworn in a year from today. The question on my mind, really the only major hesitation I have about his candidacy: How could the Sanders agenda survive the grid-lock on Capitol Hill?

Let’s look at what happened to President Obama’s Hope and Change agenda. With a Democratically controlled congress he managed to just barely pass the Affordable Care Act. Then in 2010 the House was taken over by Tea Party Republicans who have spent the last five years voting to repeal the ACA over and over and blocking almost every other major piece of the Obama agenda. Immigration reform? Nope. Gun control? Bwahahaha. You get the idea.

So what would be different about a President Sanders? He wants to go to a “Medicare For All” healthcare system. He wants to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour. He wants to put trillions of dollars into rebuilding roads and transforming energy infrastructure to renewables. It’s a dream agenda for so many of us, but the cynic in me keeps saying, “Use your head, it’ll take a political mind with cunning who is ten times as cut-throat as these Tea Party whackos to beat them at their own game.” You know which Democratic candidate for president that is.

There’s only one thing that could make Bernie Sanders’ political agenda reality in this crazy world: a political revolution. That’s exactly what he’s calling for and that’s exactly what we’re going to have to deliver in order to see some real hope and change.

 

Saint Albans and Fairfield Act 46 Committee Hits the Brakes

I want to express my dismay at the outcome of the Franklin Central Supervisory Union Act 46 Study Committee’s vote on Monday night. After attending a public forum about the proposed merger and following the coverage of their work, many of us were left with the impression that there was consensus and that some merger proposal would be brought to the voters of Saint Albans (Town and City) and Fairfield for Town Meeting Day in March.

The opportunity seemed too good to pass up. More students in the district would mean tax rate stabilization in all of the towns. A combined governance under one board would offer opportunities to share resources and save money. On top of that the state incentives for an early merger would amount to about $200/yr in property tax savings for a typical Saint Albans homeowner each year for 5 years. Increased educational opportunities for a lot of students AND lower taxes? Sign me up!

The process that resulted the end of the committee’s work seems very strange to me. When I was in the legislature there was a golden rule about committee work: It’s okay to vote no, but don’t surprise the Chair with a no vote. That principle didn’t seem to be followed on Monday, leaving committee members and more importantly the voters scratching their heads.

The end result is that the voters and tax-payers of Fairfield and Saint Albans won’t get a chance to voice their opinion about a merger this Town Meeting Day. They won’t get a chance to take full advantage of the Act 46 tax breaks or the opportunities that the students would have to share programming, curriculum, facilities and more. That should disappoint all of us.

There may be another bite at the apple, though. I hope that the members of the committee who voted no hear from lots of their neighbors and will reconvene to bring a merger plan to the voters in a special election this summer. If you want to join me in contacting the Act 46 Study Committee members, their contact information is available at fcsuvt.org.

A Real-Life Act 46 Experience

Last night I attended a public forum at Saint Albans City School about the Franklin Central Supervisory Union’s consolidation plan. It was the first time I had seen one of the proposed plans in any detail and I have to say it was reassuring on a number of levels. Saint Albans City School board chair James Farr and Fairfield board member Michael L’Esperance did much of the presentation, along with other board members and Supervisory Union Superintendent Kevin Dirth.

1. The Boards and Administrators Get It

Act 46 has a lot more to do with achieving equity between towns, than it does dramatically decreasing property tax rates or school costs. While the Act 46 Committee did estimate nearly $250,000 in efficiency savings by consolidating into one districts, they were quick to point out that this is a conservative figure and that they don’t anticipate big savings from consolidation in the first year.

2.  The Smallest Town Has A Lot to Gain, But…

Fairfield has about 230 students and the proposed district will be about 2700 students. Saint Albans Messenger reporter Michelle Monroe pointed out that Fairfield has struggled the most with the current relationship between property tax rates and per pupil spending. The loss of a handful of students two years ago caused a 20 cent tax increase even though the school budget didn’t go up at all. The new district would spread the impact of population over all three communities (Saint Albans City, Saint Albans Town and Fairfield).

There will have to be equity in programming, class offerings and educational opportunity among the three elementary schools- and that’s the biggest opportunity for Fairfield in the new district. The hard part is that there will be 9 votes on the new consolidated School Board: 4 Town residents, 4 City residents and 2 Fairfield residents with 1/2 vote each. All members will be elected at-large, which means the two big towns will be able to elect the two Board members from the small town. That was a bit unnerving to some Fairfield residents, but Jim Farr was quick to say- “Every town has 9 votes representing them, we’re going to be one district.” Still, if voters in Fairfield choose to keep riding the tax roller coaster in order to maintain local control, then the plan will fall apart because all three towns must approve the plan for the merged district to be approved on Town Meeting Day.

The Act 46 Committee for Franklin Central S.U. presents their plan for a consolidated district to the public at a forum 12/02/2015

3. The Tax Savings Are Real…

… and those districts who don’t get the benefits by consolidating will end up paying for those benefits to other districts. For a Saint Albans City resident with a $200,000 home the 10 cent break on the penny rate in the first year will be worth about $200, and the projected savings over five incentivized years would be about $1000 for the owner of a $200,000 property in the City or Fairfield and over $1400 for the owner of a similar property in the Town. However given the fact that most homeowners pay based on income I don’t think that the majority of people will see a huge difference in their taxes because of this plan.

Act 46 is going to give the new district’s school board members flexibility and options they never have had  in our one-building-per-district model. We have four school districts and five boards that will now become one unit, with one budget- assuming that the plan is passed in March by all three towns. The transition is going to be tough, but as one City School board member told me after the meeting “we have actually already been working on this for years but none of the prior initiatives passed by the state had enough carrot or stick to work. The only part of act 46 I don’t like is the spending caps.”I imagine we’re not the only Supervisory Union in Vermont where that’s the case.

Syrian Refugees and Scar(e)city

I’ve had occasion to spend some time driving around the state for work and I’ve been listening to reports on VPR about Syrian refugees- and our politicians responding to the situation. It’s been a divisive issue, with a few leaders stepping up to welcome refugees- like Governor Shumlin and President Obama– and a few leaders fanning the flames of fear- like Sen. Lindsey Graham, Gov. Bobby Jindhal, and our own Vermont Republican gubernatorial candidates.

The UN estimates there are over 4 million refugees from the civil war in Syria. Most of them are in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. In recent months tens of thousands of Syrian refugees have left crowded camps in the region and struck out for Europe- often paying smugglers to guide them on dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean. Many have died just trying to make the trip.

So what is our response? Many politicians have engaged in disgusting pandering and fear-mongering- including gubernatorial candidates Bruce Lisman and Lt. Governor Phil Scott. I applaud Gov. Shumlin for his leadership on this issue, and I was glad to see Matt Dunne making a strong statement of support for Vermont hosting Syrian refugees.

“I would have hoped that Phil [Scott] would be someone who would not just fall in line with the right-wing Republicans in Congress.”- Matt Dunne

President Obama has been making the case for welcoming Syrian refugees to the United States, but he was defied by 47 Democrats in the House who sided with Republicans in an effort to halt refugee resettlement in the wake of the attacks in Paris last week. It turns out the “Syrian” in the group of attackers probably wasn’t Syrian at all and was in the possession of a forged passport.

Over the last few weeks in my church, our pastor has been talking about moving out of an attitude of Scar(e)city into an attitude of Abundance. Is it good for us to protect what we have at the expense of our neighbors? Are we really willing to reject our obligations to other human beings when we have been blessed with so much? I can’t imagine that our free society, with all of its diversity, could be diminished by including a few thousand people who are fleeing a war-ravaged land. With all of the abundance in the United States of America, and here in Vermont, can we really turn away these refugees with a clear conscience?

My answer is emphatically no. We’ll all benefit from having open doors and open hearts in a world that has seen so much violence. If we turn our backs on Syrian refugees, like we did so many Jewish refugees fleeing the rise of the Third Reich in the late 1930s, we sacrifice all of the moral high ground and good will that we so often claim in the world.

I hope compassion wins out, and that we do take in a good number of Syrians who want safety and freedom and have had to wait, fight and sometimes die to have a chance to get it. We have so much to be thankful for in America, and in Vermont. How dare we pretend to live in a world of scarcity when our freedom, compassion and opportunities are so abundant?