Evolving Peace

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Friday, October 13, 2006

RFK JR. and The Vermont Environmental Crew

Today, the sky is a glowing blue with white puffy clouds if you were on top of Camels Hump today you could see for miles with perfect clarity. Clarity in the world starts by understanding and educating. As in all my other days, politics are the forefront of my daily existence, so I drove to the Big City for an environmental campaign rally. Burlington, with its population dominated by the beautiful University of Vermont campus is a microcosm of most other American cities. But to the credit of their politicians Burlington has been rated as one of the best American cities to live in and recently The Economist magazine gave it one of the highest rankings for over all costs of business and living. A city ran by "Socialist" Bernie Sanders for years, Progressive Democrat Peter Cavelle and now Progressive Mayor Bob Kiss has been highly ranked by an extremely conservative publication, maybe the rest of America should watch what is happening here.

I arrived on to UVM campus while students were scurrying to get to their next class. I was on my way to the magnificent Ira Allen Chapel to hear Robert F. Kennedy speak on environmental issues and speak for candidate Peter Welch. Just for those who do not know the chapel was named after Ira Allen the founder of UVM and a founder of the state of Vermont. Crowds scurried in to hear the words of a political legacy, a champion in environmental issues. I assume over 300 people attended this event, but adding to the noise level was the bus load of elementary school children. Note to any political campaign, to rise the decibel levels just add children, instant noise.

Observing the crowd, I saw many familiar faces, from politicians to activists. Striking a conversation with Philip Baruth of the Vermont Daily Briefing Blog, http://vermontdailybriefing.com/ we discussed that comparative to other areas of the country the politicians in Vermont are so accessible. We do have a government by the people and for the people, so what good is government without public access? I have a lot of empathy for those politicians who have to endlessly sell themselves to obtain their position. A constant struggle, whether it is to raise money, get votes or just to broadcast their message.

Candidate Matt Dunne http://www.mattdunne.com circulated throughout the crowd. Matt is running for Lt. Governor and has an uphill battle, since the media is so enthralled with the other campaigns. Using an unorthodox campaign strategy Matt has incorporated service projects as a message of action. Throughout the state Matt has been connecting his campaign to volunteer groups that serve the community from homeless shelters, to vegetable picking for the Vermont Food Bank to river cleanups. Matt is showing what good can come about from the political spectrum. Meanwhile, his part-time opponent flies commercial airplanes and refuses to debate.

Sitting next to me was Rebecca Sobel of Greenpeace's Project Hot Seat, http://www.projecthotseat.com. She has been sent to Vermont to force the issue of Global Warming onto the forefront of the 2006 campaigns. Surprising enough she has made both candidates from the Republican Party agree to highlight this issue. Although, a few months ago candidate Martha Rainville was quoted that she does not necessarily believe global warming is being caused by human impact. Martha is the same candidate who had a staff member plagiarizes policies from quotes of other politicians, including Hilary Clinton. I guess whatever you can do to get elected is the name of the game.

The event began with a UVM student introduction and on a somber note for a moment of silence for missing UVM student, Michelle Gardner-Quinn. It is a horror that today's women have to be in fear of being stalked by crazed men. Police just think they found her body. My heart and condolences go out to her family and friends.

Former Governor Madeleine Kunin began the remarks by stating that she would always like to see a woman obtain office but in this election she would rather see the right man win. She stressed the importance of bringing out the change in Republican leadership, from the state all the way to Congress. Governor Douglass's action of contacting the worst environmental Congressman, Congressman Richard Pombo, shows completely the need to change the direction of Congress but also the leadership of Vermont. She promptly introduced Scudder Parker the next Governor of Vermont, http://www.scudderparker.com.

Scudder, the only major candidate to grow up on a farm in Vermont strongly asserted the need for leadership in guiding Vermont as a leader in environmental issues. The current governor has fallen behind in regards to environmental issues and has been dividing the populace instead of uniting. Following, Scudder needing no introduction Congressman Bernie Sanders (http://www.bernie.org) led the charge. His presence immediately brought a thunderous applause to the crowd. Bernie has the power to charge crowds like few others, like Moses parting the Red Sea crowds enthusiastically stand on their feet. Bernie rehashes the theme of an end to one party rule is a must to put this country back on track.

Up next, Senator Patrick Leahy tells the crowd he will be thrilled introducing Bernie to the floors of the Senate and will be honored to work with Congressman Welch. He showed the enthusiasm of a young child at a baseball game, consistently documenting this historic event by take snap shots. For those unaware Senator Leahy has a remarkable photograph collection highlighting his years of service to the State of Vermont. He proudly stated that the Vermont delegation said "NO, NO, NO" to the President's misguided war. Vermont shall be in the forefront in the charge to bring the country in a new direction.

The festivities of the day were to be a campaign rally for Peter Welch, http://www.welchforcongress.com, so it was Peter's turn to address the crowd. Peter said he was proud of his educational background and connection to the Kennedy family. Peter was a member of the Robert F. Kennedy Fellows. Peter attributes his learning the hope of social justice and the commitment to public service for the Kennedy's and was an honor to have Kennedy here. "America needs a new direction," he emphatically told the crowd. This election is so important for the whole purpose of changing the leadership of the House and Senate so America could look forward and protect our environment in a clean responsible way. Vermont shall have a voice in selecting a new speaker and new committee leadership.

Closing with Robert Kennedy Jr. the scene had been set for an educational sermon. Kennedy rattled of cases of corruption and distortion in regards to environmental policy. This President and Congress are the worst environmental leaders in the history of our nation he passionately addressed the crowd. Polluters run amok setting policy within the White House is mere criminal negligence, and that is what he called Presidential morality. The Healthy Forests and Clean Skies initiatives have made it easier for the industry of polluters while streams and lakes are polluted with mercury. According to Kennedy (and the Center for Disease Control) one in six Americans have toxic levels of mercury, which cause child birth defects and autism (including himself). Due to air pollution, cases of asthma are increasing. Criminal negligence in regards to corporate profits is the game of Washington.

Not withholding criticism to just the Congress and Bush, Kennedy blasted the lapdog media for failing to report the hypocritical rhetoric. The American public must know that the US as four percent of the world's population consume twenty-five percent of the fossil fuels. The duty of America is to take charge and restore hope to the world. Near to closing his speech, he called for stopping "Socialism for the Rich and Capitalism for the Poor." Sneering behind him, Bernie applauded with approval. Kennedy concluded with saying that in every case sound environmental policy supported sound economic policy.

Exiting, Ira Allen Chapel I realized in that room there were visions of hope. While people here in Vermont may understand, there are many people in the country that are just unaware of the crimes and degradation of our environment from the powers that be. I walked out in the crisp air loaded with sun and hoping that this message of hope is reverberated across the country, please let this message be heard…


Exiled in Vermont

Robb Kidd


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