Saturday, March 18, 2006

Democracy in action

In the United States no less! From the Boston Globe comes this story of Vermont town meeting democracy and the shameful response of the Kool-Aid drinkers.
The protest unfolded in a white meeting house on one of the prettiest town commons in Vermont. The debate at the Town Meeting was by all accounts unfailingly polite. And when the secret ballots were counted, residents of this tiny resort town had voted 121 to 29 to impeach President Bush....

.....Dan DeWalt, the Newfane selectman who proposed the vote on impeachment, said he had not anticipated the scale of the backlash when he decided to bring the debate to Town Meeting. To DeWalt, a ponytailed musician, woodworker, and teacher who displays a running tally of Iraq war deaths outside his home on a muddy hillside near the Rock River, the vote seemed like one more way to push back against a government he sees as dangerous.

''I'm constantly trying to think of what I can do because I just feel powerless," he said. ''Town meeting is this democratic thing, and it seemed like a real opportunity -- instead of me writing a letter, this would be the town speaking."....

.....He had no trouble placing the impeachment article on the Town Meeting agenda; of the first 82 people he asked to sign his petition, 78 agreed, he said. Distracted by another time-consuming project -- starting a free local newspaper -- DeWalt said he did little to get out the vote or campaign for his cause.

He did alert three other Vermont towns -- Marlboro, Putney, and Dummerston -- which adopted his idea and called for votes on impeachment at their town meetings. Voters in all three towns approved the measures. A fifth town, Brookfield, also voted for impeachment.

Heartened by the votes in neighboring towns, and even by the backlash, DeWalt said he is encouraging more Vermont towns to take impeachment votes.

In nearby Brattleboro, Town Meeting member Dora Bouboulis said she plans to call for a vote on impeachment at her town meeting next Saturday.

''If a month from now Rockingham votes, and then another town does, it will stay in the news and keep the pressure on," said DeWalt, who got irate phone calls from as far as Alabama and Los Angeles after the vote in Newfane.
And what was the reaction to this small piece of public spirit?
Angry calls and e-mails flooded Newfane, population 1,680, the next day. One critic sent a mock thank-you note, signed ''Usama Bin Ladin," that applauded the town for its help in ''bringing down" America. Some regular guests of the picturesque, 175-year-old Four Columns Inn notified its owners that they would never visit again.

''Shame on you," one caller said on the town clerk's voicemail. ''A little Socialist town like yourself is a disgrace to America."
No dear, Democracy in action is most surely not socialism. It is the foundation that this country was built upon.

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