Politics of Vermont: Wikis

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Vermonters have been known for their political independence. Republicans predominated for most of the state's history until the 1960s, even when the rest of the country was voting Democratic. Democrats have predominated since the 1970s even when most of the country was voting Republican.

Contents

History

Vermont is one of four states that were once independent (the others being Texas, California, and Hawaii). It has sometimes voted contrarian in national elections. In 1832, Vermont was the only state voting for a presidential candidate from the Anti-Masonic Party; only one of two states to vote for William Howard Taft in 1912, and Vermont and Maine were the only states to vote against Franklin D. Roosevelt in his second election in 1936.[1]

Vermont held the state general election in September until 1915. While the vote was assured for the Republican party at that time, the size of victory was thought by some, before polls, to predict how the national elections might go.[1]

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Voting patterns

Republicans dominated Vermont politics from the party's founding in 1854 until the mid-1970s. Prior to the 1960s, rural interests dominated the legislature. As a result, cities, particularly the older sections of Burlington and Winooski, were neglected and fell into decay.[citation needed] People began to move out to newer suburbs.

In the early 1960s many progressive Vermont Republicans and newcomers to the state helped bolster the state's small Democratic Party. Until 1992, Vermont had supported a Democrat for president only once since the party's founding—in Lyndon B. Johnson's 1964 landslide victory against Barry Goldwater.

Modern times

In the meantime, many people had moved in from out of state. Much of this immigration included the arrival of more liberal political influences of the urban areas of New York and New England in Vermont.[2]

In 1980, Vermont gave third party candidate John B. Anderson 14.9% of its vote, thereby tipping the state to Republican Ronald Reagan.[3]

In 1992, it supported Democrat Bill Clinton for president and has voted for Democrats in every presidential election since.

In 1999, five moderate Democratic legislators, called "Blue Dogs", joined with Republicans to pass Democratic but fiscally conservative governor Howard Dean's plans for an income tax cut.[4]

Vermont gave John Kerry his fourth-largest margin of victory in 2004, behind the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. He won the state's popular vote by 20 percentage points over incumbent George W. Bush, taking 58.9% of the vote. Essex County in the state's northeastern section was the only county to vote for Bush. Vermont still remains the only state that President Bush has not visited.[5]

On the other hand, Republican Governor Douglas won all counties but Windham in the 2006 election. Vermonters have been ticket-splitters.[6]

In 2008, the Democrats, in charge of the House, appointed Richard Westman, a Republican, to chair the Transportation Committee. When he resigned in 2009 to accept a post elsewhere, the leadership appointed another Republican, Patrick M. Brennan to that chair.[7]

In 2008, an Associated Press poll found that Vermonters self-described themselves as "liberal" (32%) more often than any other state in the union, behind only the District of Columbia.[8] In 2009, the state had a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+13, tying with Hawaii to be the most Democratic state in the country, exceeded only by the District of Columbia.[9]

Political parties

Minor parties flourish. Rules which eliminate smaller parties from the ballot in most states do not exist in Vermont, where electoral fusion is also legal. As a result, voters often have extensive choices in general elections.

The Vermont Progressive Party is a liberal political party which has held a handful of seats in the Vermont legislature for two decades and has run candidates for numerous state and local elections. In 2009, they had five members in the Vermont House of Representatives and one member in the Vermont Senate. Progressive Bob Kiss is mayor of the largest city, Burlington. It has had official recognition as a political party by the state government since 1999.

The Liberty Union Party is a democratic socialist minor party which holds a few local offices.

Statutes

The Vermont constitution and the courts supports the right of a person to walk (fish and hunt) on any unposted, unfenced land. That is trespass must be proven by the owner; it is not automatically assumed.[10]

By a court decision from 1903, people have the right to carry firearms without a permit.[11]

After Lady Bird Johnson led the effort to pass the Highway Beautification Act in 1965, Vermont first examined the topic in 1967.[12] It then banned them outright in 1968. All billboards were gone from Vermont by 1974. It is one of four states today with this ban.[13]

After the legislature was redistricted under one-person, one-vote, it passed legislation to accommodate these new arrivals. This legislation was the Land Use and Development Law (Act 250) in 1970. The law, which was the first of its kind in the nation, created nine District Environmental Commissions consisting of private citizens, appointed by the Governor, who must approve land development and subdivision plans that would have a significant impact on the state's environment and many small communities. As a result of Act 250, Vermont was the last state to get a Wal-Mart; there are four, as of March 2008, but only the Williston store was new construction.

Having tried to discourage suburban sprawl, the legislatures of 1998 and 2002 moved to encourage downtowns. In 2008, there were 23 designated downtowns and 78 village centers.[14]

Another case involves the 2002 controversy over the adoption of civil unions, an institution which grants same-sex couples nearly all the rights and privileges of marriage. In Baker v. Vermont (1999), the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that, under the Constitution of Vermont, the state must either allow same-sex marriage or provide a separate but equal status for them. The state legislature chose the second option by creating the institution of civil union; the bill was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Howard Dean. In 2009 however, the state legislature passed a same-sex marriage bill that was vetoed by Governor Jim Douglas. The legislature overrode the veto, making Vermont the first state to recognize same-sex marriage as the result of a bill passed in the legislature and not due to a judicial ruling.[citation needed]

In 2007, when confronted with an allegedly liberal issue, assisted suicide for the terminally ill, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives rejected the measure by a vote of 82-63.[15]

A political issue has been Act 60, which balances taxation for education funding. This has resulted in the town of Killington voting 3:1 to secede from Vermont and join New Hampshire due to what the locals say is an unfair tax burden.[16][17]

In 2009, Vermont passed the strictest law in the nation controlling the marketing of pharmaceutical drugs to doctors, hospitals and other health providers.[18]

In 2009, a governor vetoed a budget bill for the first time in history. For the first time in history, the legislature was called into special session to deal with the veto.[19]

In 2009, the state outlawed smoking at workplaces.[20]

Secession advocacy

Vermont's unique history and history of independent political thought has led to movements for the establishment of the Second Vermont Republic and other plans advocating secession.[21] In 2007, about 13% of Vermont's population supported Vermont's withdrawal from the Republic. The percentage who supported this in 2005 was 8%.[22][23]

In January 2010 nine Vermonters announced they were planning to run for several state offices: governor, lieutenant governor and seven seats in the state Senate on a Vermont secession platform.[24][25] The candidates did not organize a formal political party organization but are running as individuals under the “Vermont Independence Party” label.[26]

Federal

Vermont is one of only two states represented by a member of the United States Congress who does not currently associate with a political party: Senator Bernie Sanders describes his political views as socialist, but caucuses with the Democrats in the selection of the Senate leadership.[27] He was in the United States House of Representatives during the 1990s and early 2000s and has been in the U.S. Senate since 2007. Bernie Sanders often votes with the Democratic Party, but maintains his independence as an Independent in Congress.[28]

Vermont's Senior Senator is Patrick Leahy, a liberal Democrat. Vermont's sole Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives is Democrat Peter Welch. [4]

While Vermont's federal representation is Democratic, at the state level Vermont's politics are more balanced. Vermont's current Governor has been Republican Jim Douglas since 2003.[29] The governorship in Vermont has alternated between Democrats and Republicans in recent decades. Most notably perhaps is Democrat Howard Dean, Governor from 1991 to 2003, who ran for the 2004 Democratic Presidential Nomination and went on to chair the Democratic National Committee.

Judicial (federal)

The US Attorney is Thomas D. Anderson. Appointed in 2006.

Holding Vermont's seat on the Second Circuit Court is Peter W. Hall who holds court in Rutland, Vermont. Appointed in 2004.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b Pollak, Sally (November 2, 2008). Vermont VOTING FACTS. Burlington Free Press. 
  2. ^ "The World". Rise of the Democratic Party. http://www.vt-world.com/Archive/2004/February_18_2004/Features.htm. Retrieved 2006-12-25. 
  3. ^ Bennett, William (2007). America, The Last Best Hope, Volume II. Thomas Nelson. 
  4. ^ Remsen, Nancy (January 23, 2009). Flaherty, former 'Blue Dog' Democrat, dies. Burlington Free Press. 
  5. ^ Activists in Vermont town want Bush, Cheney subject to arrest - CNN.com
  6. ^ "Vermont General Elections". For Governor. http://vermont-elections.org/elections1/2006GEGov.xls. Retrieved 2006-12-28. 
  7. ^ "Colchester's Brennan named Transportation chairman". Burlington, Vermont: Burlington Free Press. 5 September 2009. pp. 1B. 
  8. ^ The Associated Press (November 7, 2008). Vt. ranks as most liberal state. Burlington Free Press. 
  9. ^ "Partisan Voting Index Districts of the 111th Congress, Arranged by State/District". The Cook Political Report. 2009-04-10. http://www.cookpolitical.com/sites/default/files/pvistate.pdf. 
  10. ^ Vermont Constitution retrieved May 29, 2008
  11. ^ http://www.guncite.com/court/state/55a610.html
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ [2]
  14. ^ MacKay, Noelle, Executive Director of Smart Growth (June 21, 2008). My Turn:Good to see support for smart growth. Burlington Free Press. 
  15. ^ It's sudden death in Vermont for assisted suicide proposal
  16. ^ Killington Secession Not Too Popular in VT | New Hampshire Public Radio
  17. ^ CNN.com - Killington residents vote to secede from Vermont - March 4, 2004
  18. ^ Remsen, Nancy (28 Junw 2009). "Tough drug law gains attention outside Vermont". Burlington, Vermont: Burlington Free Press. pp. 1A. 
  19. ^ The Chronicle, June 3, 2009, page 1A, "Dems find chink in Governor's armor", Paul Lefebvre
  20. ^ The Chronicle, July 1, page 3A, "Businesses now 100 percent smoke-free" Vermont Department of Health
  21. ^ These relatively small political movements are similar in nature to those found in California, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Texas; although the historical contexts are variant.
  22. ^ Second Vermont Republic
  23. ^ In Vermont, nascent secession movement gains traction, Boston.com, June 3, 2007.]
  24. ^ 9 Vt. state office candidates favor secession, Associated Press, January 13, 2010.
  25. ^ Christopher Ketcham, The Secessionist Campaign for the Republic of Vermont, Time Magazine, January 31, 2010.
  26. ^ Pro-Secession Party Formed for Vermont, Ballot Access News, January 13, 2010.
  27. ^ Powell, Michael. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/04/AR2006110401124.html Exceedingly Social, But Doesn't Like Parties. The Washington Post November 5, 2006.
  28. ^ http://www.ontheissues.org/House/Bernie_Sanders.htm Bernie Saunders Official US House webpage
  29. ^ [3]

External links


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