3/1/2022, Cabot Vermont – Today is Town Meeting Day here in our Vermont. While a community may have many Town Meetings throughout the year, the first Tuesday in March is, for the most part, when all our communities come together to make important decisions for the coming year. From Town budgets to School budgets, from local ordinances to expressing views on a range of topics, Town Meeting is where Vermonters debate and decide on the issues of the day.
And traditionally it is at such Town Meetings that ALL the citizens of a community act as the legislative branch of local government, with the power to publicly debate, make motions, propose amendments, and ultimately vote from the floor on those issues set before them.
When Ben Franklin exited the room where the future of the United States was being decided, he was asked what kind of government we would have. He answered “a Republic, if you can keep it.” More than 200 years later, Just days ago, we witnessed a challenge to that democratic Republic. Fascists, at the direction of Donald Trump, attempted to subvert our Republic by legislative process and by violence in the streets and in the halls of Congress. That coup was defeated.
In the aftermath, our Vermont Governor, Republican Phil Scott, denounced the coup, defended democracy, and called for the immediate removal of Donald Trump from the office of Presidency. So too did our Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy and our Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders. In the VT General Assembly, a tri-partisan resolution overwhelmingly passed in the House and Senate (supported by Republicans, Democrats, and Progressives) demanding Trump to be removed from office. Further, Vermont’s Attorney General, TJ Donovan, demanded the immediate termination of a VT State Trooper who publicly voiced support for the coup. As President of the 10,000 member Vermont AFL-CIO I also denounced the failed rightwing insurrection (and our State Labor Council again confirmed our commitment to a General Strike in the event that a transfer of power does not take place on January 20th). And unlike in Washington DC and various State Capitals around the nation, demonstrations of support for the coup have been near nonexistent in the Green Mountains. In brief, Vermonters, regardless of party affiliation or political differences, remain united in our support for democracy. I am proud to call these Green Hills my home.
Being the first Tuesday in March, it is Town Meeting Day in Vermont. Here, unlike much of the world, there are only two layers of government; state & local. And for the vast majority of our 246 towns & cities, local government is composed of a legislative branch that includes EVERY citizen as may gather at an annual (and special) Town Meeting. Most communities introduce, amend, and pass all agenda items (like the town budget, tax rates, election of officers, ordinances, etc.) through a (public) floor vote by all the assembled citizens. This is our traditional Town Meeting system. And having ALL the citizens included in the legislative branch of local government lends itself to working people (who are the great majority) being more informed and more thoughtful about the positions they take (as their opinions, under such a system, very much matter). Vermont is a better place for it.
By David Van Deusen, District Vice President of the VT AFL-CIO
March 5th, 2019, Cabot VT -Today, the first Tuesday of March, is Town Meeting Day in Vermont. While a community may have many Town Meetings during the year, this is the one day when every community has a Town Meeting all at once. And here, all the citizens collectively act as the legislative branch of the local government. One citizen, one vote. Unlike in the rest of the United States, towns in Vermont have the right to conduct all their government business from the floor of the Town Meeting.