Monday, July 14, 2014

How a socialist charms the "Northeast Kingdom"

That was a part of this NPR story last week, headlined "Could a Socialist Senator Become a National Brand?"  It's about Bernie Sanders, of course, the Independent Senator from Vermont who is a self-described socialist.  Here's an excerpt with some background on the Senator, who was the mayor of Burlington in the 1980s:
Sanders barely got 2 percent of the vote when he first tried breaking into Vermont politics in the 1970s, but now there's buzz that the man known simply as "Bernie" may be a presidential candidate in 2016.
But it was another part of the story caught my "ruralist" attention.  It's about Sanders' popularity in the notoriously conservative--and rural and poor--Northeast Kingdom.  Alisa Chang, reporting for NPR, calls it "lush and green … dotted with dairy farms"--and a place "where Sanders does really well."
Randy Meade, a dairy farmer, is a gun owner, thinks gay marriage is immoral and says the government should spend a lot less. But he has always voted for Sanders because he says Sanders protects small farmers like him against the larger dairy farms. When milk prices dropped a few years ago, the senator led the push for more government assistance so family farms wouldn't go out of business. 
"He's not intimidated by large money," Meade says. "He's not intimidated by well-dressed people with, you know, $2-, $3,000 suits. That's not Bernie. And that's not us either."
Chang says Sanders' ability to "bring in federal help resonates more loudly than
any dig that he's a 'Leftist' or a 'liberal.'"  She notes that he has brought federally funded health centers here, as well as outreach clinics for veterans.  Chang quotes Steve Brochu, whom she met at the Veterans of Foreign Wars club room in Newport:   
I really believe that he cares a lot about us, even though he's never experienced what we've been through.  He cares and he listens.
I note that, according to wikipedia, Newport is the only incorporated city in "the Kingdom's" three county area, which has a total population of 64,764.

It seems a pity that more rural voters, seemingly conservative by culture and instinct, don't show more appreciation for the government largesse Democratic (and Independent!) senators and congresspersons channel their way.  

No comments: