Evolving Peace

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Full House Vermont

Under the golden dome today began the next legislative session for the Vermont House of Representatives. A historic day in the capital town of Montpelier, for years Vermont was a stronghold of Republican ideology but with the convening of this legislature not only is there a Democratic majority but a veto proof majority. The mainstream media paints Vermont as a “liberal” sanctuary from the flawed conservative agenda of American politics of the last seven years but ignores the historical past and the governorship of Republican Jim Douglas. Like the nation, Republicans used to run Vermont but now no longer.

Here in Montpelier, re-elected Speaker of the House, Gaye Symington echoed her vision of the future of Vermont. Hailed by Representative Sweeny of Hartland, Gaye is someone of “honor and trust” and “respects diversity… and committed to progress.” Coinciding with her return to being the Speaker, four other states are convening a new legislature with woman as it is speakers. Nancy Pelosi tomorrow becomes the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

A century ago, state houses and other governmental offices were stuffy halls of men orchestrating the agenda of the land. Progress had been slated in 1920 when the 19th Amendment granted woman the right to vote. Today, while government positions are sprinkled with woman in higher positions there still is an inequality compared to the fact that woman outnumber men in population. While in other countries woman such as Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of England, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany have held and are holding the top positions. The United States with it’s grandeur of equality still lags behind.

So beginning today a new chapter in Vermont politics steps in. Speaker Symington honored last session’s successes and spoke of her commitment for progress. In the past other speakers have used the gavel as a means of control, not to her; it is tool to build on the hard work that each and every member of the house brings out through their hearts.

She issued a call for them all to work hard on building the future of Vermont. “Let’s ask what we are doing to leave us a prosperous state,” she questioned the hall. We must “focus on alternative energy… and lead the country to reducing global warming.” Proposing that while the state reaches for renewable energy sources investment will propel the state’s economic future into the forefront of the “global community.” According to her, the legislature made strides with health care but still needs to move forward and make it affordable to all.

In addressing property taxes she stated “are we looking for transient solutions or for further commitments” in having the most productive and efficiently operated schools, which appeared to be a snip to Governor Douglass’s half hearted focus on the “property tax burden.” Too frequently, politicians use catchy buzz words and use taxation as an issue to obtain their office but in actuality never offer substantial methods to reverse the escalating problem.

Closing her remarks she offered her vision of what it means to serve. She reflected on the pride she gets as mothers introduce their young daughters to her and that maybe she has influenced others to the path of service. She stated a message of hope and commitment by that the House will “work together to strengthen our state’s values.”

Sitting under the Golden Dome I visualized the progress that can obtained from those individuals. Inside the floor of statehouses throughout the country the great promise of democracy is at work. A new direction is in store for the country and the state of Vermont. The legislative session begins today in Montpelier and starts tomorrow in Washington. In my book at least there is hope…

Robb Kidd

“We change, whether we like it or not” Ralph Waldo Emerson


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