Monday, August 23, 2010

Election Musings

My Vote Counts

Or at least, it will be counted.

I voted in the Vermont primary today. The actual election is tomorrow, but you can vote by absentee ballot, which is convenient. I went to the Town Clerk's office in the Town Hall. She checked my name off the voter list and handed me three ballots and two envelopes. The ballots were the Republican, Democratic, and Progressive Party candidate lists. (There are several Progressive party representatives in the Vermont House, including Representative Sarah Edwards, a dedicated foe of Vermont Yankee.)

I chose one of the three ballots, filled it out, put it in the smaller of the two envelopes, sealed the envelope, and signed my name on it. Then I took the two blank ballots and put them in the bigger envelope. I sealed that envelope also, but I didn't need to put my name on it. I gave both envelopes to the town clerk, and I was done. (If I had picked up the absentee ballots several days before the election, I could have sent them back by mail instead of handing them to the clerk.)


I am not going to tell you who I voted for. I have always been an Independent. When I was a little girl in Chicago, my mother told me: "When you get old enough to vote, don't sign up for the Democratic Party. It's the Daley machine in this town. Work with the Independent Voters of Illinois." (She volunteered for them.)

Like mommy, like daughter. An independent voter.

In Vermont, this year, I can see differences between Republicans and Democrats. However, I cannot tell the five Democratic gubernatorial candidates apart. As Vermont Digger notes about the candidates for governor:

As many reporters and pundits have noted, there are few essential differences between the five Democratic candidates in their views on the budget, health care, education, economic development, agriculture, human services, and energy and the environment.

I used to be able to tell them apart. Peter Shumlin was running on his anti-Vermont Yankee stance and Green Jobs, Matt Dunne was running on Vermont needs broadband and Green Jobs, Deb Markowitz was running on her experience as Secretary of State and Green Jobs, and Racine and Bartlett were running on Green Jobs.

Muddying the Positions

In recent days, the five candidates have been poaching on each other's positions. They have destroyed any lingering differentiation they used to have. For example, two days ago, Peter Shumlin's people came to my house and left a full-color flyer on how Vermont needs broadband. I wondered: Wasn't that Dunne's big deal? Maybe Dunne was doing well with it and Shumlin decided to get in on the action.

Meanwhile, Dunne made a web video ad about his experience, which I thought was Markowitz's strong suit. It's as if they are all changing places and stealing each other's talking points. Maybe they are just trying to confuse me.

The bottom line for me, however, is that they are all opposed to the relicensing of Vermont Yankee.

Vermont Yankee is a Bipartisan Issue

I don't know why it they are all against relicensing. In the Vermont Senate, twenty six Senators voted to not relicense Vermont Yankee and four voted to relicense it. The four votes for relicensing came from two Republicans and two Democrats. You can't get much more bipartisan than that. And of course, the negative votes came from all three parties.

So why do all the Democratic candidates for governor speak with one voice against Vermont Yankee? I had two ideas about this. My first idea was very simple: they all hate the plant. My second idea was almost as simple: they think everyone in Vermont hates the plant, and they won't get elected if they support it.

Recently, a third possible idea was suggested to me by a savvy old-timer. He said that all the Democrats may have bought into key points of the Progressive Party platform so the Progressives wouldn't run their own candidate for governor. A Progressive candidate would have been a "spoiler" and ensured a Republican victory. However, the Democratic neo-Progressive platform makes all the candidates look alike on key issues.

Who knows which idea is right? Not me.

I just wish the five Democrats had had the courage to differentiate themselves from each other. It could have at least made the election a little more fun.

Maybe one of these Democratic candidates could even have supported Vermont Yankee relicensing. A power plant should not be a political platform, like "taxes" or "school choice." A power plant is a big piece of industrial machinery that provides low-cost power.

It would have been nice if one of the Democratic candidates for governor had noticed this.

Another View

For a more complete view of the primary, complete with predictions about what will happen with low, medium and high voter turnout, I recommend Shay Totten's blog post at Seven Days Blurt: Vermont's Primary: Are We There Yet?

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