Vermont’s Town Meeting Day tradition, with one of the purest forms of democratic rule, falls in the midst of turbulent upheaval throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East and should prompt deep appreciation for what too many Vermonters take for granted.
But before looking inward, let’s look abroad.
Last Friday, Mother Nature gave us a treat: nice weather.
The warm breeze and bright sunlight came as an unfamiliar surprise to county residents, who, upon stepping outside, squinted skyward and blinked, disoriented, much like Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day, but without the media attention. Was it time to wake up?
Sen. Bernie Sanders has already started organizing and raising money for his re-election campaign in 2012. Meanwhile, State Auditor Tom Salmon has told reporters and Republican activists that he is likely to announce in early March that he will be a candidate for the U.S. Senate next year. Sanders will file petitions to appear on the ballot as an independent, but he could also win the Democratic primary on write-in votes.
As we begin the New Year, let us — as Vermonters and residents of Addison County — resolve to:
• Redouble our individual efforts to give back to our state and communities, not in some vague notion of being a responsible citizen, but through specific actions to improve the lives of our neighbors or the betterment of the larger community.
As America greets the New Year, we wonder if this nation has the collective resolve to true our wayward ship, to shake off the doldrums, renew our spirit of individual responsibility and regain our status as the inspirational leader in the world of new ideas.
To do that, we would first need to pay less heed to the naysayers, to honor those who seek to improve their communities and the common good — not those who benefit at the expense of others to the detriment of the national character and strength.
Middlebury could be poised for a resurgence in job growth with families moving back into town to fill vacant school desks, enliven athletic programs, create a need for home construction, fill stores with shoppers, prompt retail growth to meet local needs and infuse the community with the energy inherent in a town that has a vision for sustainable prosperity.
But, as in all things in business, such growth won’t happen without commitment and a willingness to invest.
As these 12 days before Christmas loom before us — family is coming, there are meals to prepare and presents yet to buy — remember to relax and enjoy the rich traditions of this holiday season that make it so worthwhile.
The holiday focus in Middlebury — as in Brandon, Bristol and Vergennes — is about community festivals, contributing to several wonderful community causes, listening to chorus groups ring in the season with bells and beautiful voices, and for many it is a season for worship and reflection.
Did President Barack Obama cave in to Republican leaders when he didn’t need to? Would it not have been better for Democrats to let the tax cuts expire on Dec. 31 — along with unemployment insurance for 2 million jobless Americans — and then watch to see if House Republicans would continue to push tax cuts for millionaires, while the unemployed went hungry and tens of millions of middle-class Americans contemplate tax increases?