This is a good week to be a Vermonter. While Donald Trump and many of his followers are acting like sore winners and planning the conservative transformation of our national government, expressions of tolerance are springing up all over official Vermont.
They’re doing the right thing at a critical moment. I’m often cynical about Vermont exceptionalism*, but it’s times like this that remind me that it can, indeed, be a special place.
*Having once, ahem, entitled a post “Kill Vermont Exceptionalism.”
Also, hey, bonus: if we become known as a haven against intolerance, our economy and our population may get a needed boost thanks to an influx of people who experience fear or intolerance in other states.
In no particular order:
— Governor Shumiln and Governor-elect Phil Scott issue a joint statement “of concern and defiance in the wake of Donald Trump’s election.” Full credit to Scott for taking a stand against intolerance and in support of “refugee groups, health centers, immigrant rights activists and schools.”
“We/I thought it was important to show, whether it was the current governor or the incoming governor, Democrat or Republican, that we’re unified on the issue of protecting civil rights,” Scott said.
Couldn’t ask for more than that. Plus, it’s one sign that he wants to govern from the center and be a Governor for all Vermonters. It’s only one, but it’s a good one.
— Attorney General-elect TJ Donovan says protecting immigrants is “a priority to me,” and he’s “prepared to stand up to the federal government.”
“I’m already thinking and reaching out to folks about how we respond to this issue. But this is going to be a defining moment, not just for our state, but I think [for] our country. And we all have to be prepared.”
— Rutland Mayor Chris Louras reaffirms his commitment to resettling Syrian refugees, assuming Trump doesn’t put up a metaphorical wall around the Statue of Liberty. Per Seven Days’ Mark Davis, the initial group of refugees is expected to arrive by sometime in January.
“All of us are continuing as if there’s been no change,” Louras, a Republican-turned-independent, said. “We’ve got no indications that the New Americans will not be arriving. We’re absolutely cognizant of the fact that things could change, but it’s not impacting things [now].”
Louras was heartened by the fact that Trump got only 38 percent of the vote in Rutland. That surprised me; given the furor over resettlement and the Rutland area’s growing Republicanism, the Trump vote says to me that the opposition to Louras’ plan is more like a small noisy group than a broad, community-wide movement.
— Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger says he wants to make Burlington a “sanctuary city” for undocumented immigrants, even though Trump has said he will strip all federal funding from cities that protect immigrants from deportation.
Which is a dick move on his part, but let us continue.
… I want to make it abundantly clear that our intention is to keep following the practices that we have as a city for many years. And those practices are that we do not ask about immigration status when we are going about the business of providing municipal services, when we are doing our police work.
Our President-elect may be intent on building walls everywhere he can see, but official Vermont is having none of it. In these days full of intolerant, ignorant, and downright ridiculous pronouncements from our new overlords, it’s refreshing to see such unanimity and openness among Vermont’s political leaders.
Plus, like I said, people see Vermont as a welcoming place, maybe some of them will move here and help ease our looming demographic crisis.