Dateline - WOODSTOCK
Many people around the world have their eyes set on Texas and Ohio today as American voters go to the polls in those states to help determine the next President of the United States. Occassional news reports mention the fact that the state of Vermont is doing the same thing. The difference of course is that Vermont has so few delegate votes that the system used by the Republican and Democratic parties doesn't afford Vermont residents much opportunity to actually influence the outcome of the election. Not that Vermonters are daunted by the hand they have been dealt in national elections. As a percentage of the population, Vermonters are more enthusiastic, more opinionated, and more committed to the candidate of their choice than those in any other state in the Union. Political positions are fiercely debated all over the state, and locally at the Woodstock Squat and Goobble, where townies are! known to gather around the woodstove to discuss all manner of subjects ranging from how to sex a chick to the impact of Ralph Nader running from President, again. Even though Vermonters are resigned to taking a back seat in the national political scene, they are not unfamiliar with participation politics. Last Saturday, a couple hundred Woodchucks gathered at Woodstock Town Hall for Town Meeting. While it is not manditory that one wear a plaid shirt and suspenders, those who don't mark themselves as "people from away" otherwise known as "flatlanders." Town Meeting this year was well attended, but slow going. Several residents had asked that we close debate on an Article that would have approved a new set of tools for the Highway Superintendent. Debate had raged for almost an hour over the relative merit of box wrenches versus open-end wrenches when 8 people requested a paper ballot (legally, it takes only 7 people to request a paper ballot). So off we went to the checklist! and the ballot box. The good news is that 45 minutes later, the voter s of Woodstock, Vermont had decided to purchase the Highway Superintendent a brand new set of 38 box-end wrenches, worth $349 at the local Sears store. Sure, it wasn't a lot of money, but somehow the whole exercise feels a lot more satifying than arguing over who is really going to be the Master of Change.