Reflections from Vermont

By Sanders, Bernard | Monthly Review, December 1989 | Go to article overview

Reflections from Vermont


Sanders, Bernard, Monthly Review


The following is an edited version of remarks made by Bernard Sanders at a meeting sponsored by the National Committee for Independent Political Action (NCIPA) at New York City on June 22, 1989.--Ed.

I'm here to give you some good news. I know that many of you are in desperate need of good political news, so let me start off by giving you some reasons as to why you might want to be somewhat more optimistic politically than you might otherwise be.

I'm from Vermont, and in Vermont the political world seems a little bit different than most other places in the country. I'm here tonight not to provide you with grandiose theory but to tell you about our experience so you can learn something that's practical, what we have done, and maybe we can talk about how we can do it around the rest of the country.

Let me begin by giving you the end of the story, and then we'll get back to the beginning. The end of the story is that today, in Vermont, a state whose residents are primarily low-and moderate-income people, overwhelmingly white, largely working-class--including farmers being driven off their land--the largest city in the state, Burlington, has had an independent, progressive government for the last nine years. I was elected mayor on four occasions and served from 1981 to 1988. My successor, Peter Clavelle, who had been a member of my administration for seven year, won a smashing victory in March against a candidate who had the combined support of the Democratic and Republican parties. He received 54 percent of the vote, she received 43 percent, and a Green candidate received 3 percent.

Further, the Progressive Coalition has had strong representation on our Board of Alderpersons for the last seven years. Right now there are six progressives, four Republicans, and three Democrats on the Board. Unfortunately, while we have had a plurality on the Board, and mayoral veto power for the last seven years, we have never yet had a majority.

In some parts of the country there still exists a debate, I suppose, as to whether or not there are real ideological differences between the Democratic and Republican parties. In Burlington, very few people engage in that debate any more because the political reality of the city, demonstrated on an almost daily basis, shows that there is no serious difference between those two parties. When, in two straight mayoral elections the Democratic and Republican parties combine around one candidate; when, on almost every important issue facing the city, the Democratic and Republican members of the Board combine to defeat or water down progressive initiatives; when, with one exception in nine years, every Democrat and Republican on the Board combines to elect their own Aldermanic President; when, every year, the two parties combine their aldermanic strength against the progressive plurality to select city commissioners; when all this occurs, one begins to get the feeling that there is not much of a difference between these two parties.

In fact, increasingly in Burlington, the political factions are differentiated by two labels--the Progressive Coalition and the Conservative Coalition (Democrats and Republicans). In any case, the good news from Vermont is that a progressive political movement has had power in Burlington for nine years, taking on and substantially defeating the local Democratic and Republican parties.

Further, in Vermont, independent politics has gone beyond the city of Burlington. In November 1988 I ran for the United States House of Representatives which, in Vermont, is a statewide position as we have only one Congressperson. The Republican candidate, a moderate, won with 41 percent of the vote; I came in second with 38 percent and a liberal Democrat who was the Democratic Leader in the State House of Representatives came in third with 19 percent.

In that election I carried almost every working-class area of the state, sometimes getting more votes than the other two candidates combined.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Reflections from Vermont
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.