This column is about the three cornerstones of American life: voting, freedom and October baseball.
Please vote. The Republican Party has drunk some bad Kool-Aid. The party is on a trip down a dark road. The Republicans need to find a way out, and Vermont can help them navigate this bad trip.
In Vermont, our politicians mostly still just respectfully disagree and work toward the common good. We remain a community, surrounded by capable people offering public service. Alliances to one party or the other are mostly rooted in notions of civic organization, not tribal divisions of self-proclaimed “good” versus “evil.”
I already voted. Voting early is easy and painless. Gives you time to think about who to write in. The ballot always has races where the candidates are a mystery. In those cases, I give a nod to someone who should run — a friend, neighbor — rather than toss my hat randomly at one ring or the other. Vote early. Take the time to write someone in.
I should have written in Kiah Morris, regardless of her politics (which I know nothing about, really), but I didn’t think of it in time. Ms. Morris decided not to stand for re-election to the Vermont House from Bennington after nasty, racist attacks. A vote for Kiah is a vote in defense of our common humanity. Offering such a defense is a cornerstone of what it means to be a Vermonter.
From 1777 until 1791, Vermont was a republic. The constitution of the Republic of Vermont (the true Lone-Star State) banned slavery. I imagine our Constitution was written in a ferocious, ale-fueled session in a pub in Windsor. I very much wish I’d been at that party.
Those white men (ironic, I know) wrote the first constitution in the world to make a claim of universal freedom: “All subjects of the commonwealth, of whatever color, are equally entitled to the inestimable blessings of freedom ….”
Vermont then became a proud terminus of the Underground Railroad. Runaway slaves seeking a place to live as human beings, rather than chattel, found haven here. Vermont not only defended individual freedom; it also defended unity.
Vermont sent more soldiers to fight in the U.S. Civil War per capita than did any other state. That war abolished slavery and solidified the sanctity of this union. If anyone doubts that the Civil War was about slavery, please read Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, a meaningful and beautifully written contemporaneous essay about the cause of that war, and maybe a parable for the soup we brew today. The address is easy to find: It is carved in marble on the wall of Lincoln’s Memorial.
What is carved in Barre Granite is Vermont’s commitment to judge people based on who they are, not what they are, granting us “inestimable blessings of liberty.” Do not allow anyone to tear that down. As you face the ballot, and if you see a race between two (or more) random names, maybe write in Kiah as defense of Vermont, freedom, and unity.
Seize the opportunity
One more note about voting before turning to baseball. One thing I did do on the ballot was vote to move some telephone poles, a great blight of the industrial age. We don’t even see how ugly they are because they just are. In Stowe, we have the chance to get them off our main street. We should.
People travel far and wide to visit Vermont. They do it for three reasons: natural beauty; escape to small, safe, welcoming hamlets; and to be in touch with an agrarian past.
Long ago, our villages were their own hardscrabble worlds. Gaylord Gale, a dear friend and neighbor now long passed (and missed), would tell me about Stowe when it was an isolated, self-sustaining farm town. Cherished by those who did the hard work to live here, a world away from anywhere. Barre was a weekend getaway. Mud season meant not being able to drive out of our narrow river valley.
Stowe has the chance — for relatively small money (less than a hockey rink) — to remove the poles and lines from Main Street. A once-in-a-lifetime chance. We won’t see how ugly and distracting are these poles until we remove them. Moving them will open a window onto what we once were. It’s a gift. Please vote yes on moving those poles.
And finally, October baseball. This October was the sweet tail-end of the best season of Red Sox baseball, ever. A highlight of the just-concluded World Series is the redemption of David Price.
Price has persisted despite harsh and relentless criticism. His cross to bear — in a dozen tries over a long career — was not to win ever in the postseason. He freed himself this October.
Baseball is a metaphor for hope, for doing the best you can despite relentless challenge. Price is a meta-metaphor. He loves the game despite slings and arrows, disappointments and failures. And now he is redeemed.
In his Game 2 start against the Dodgers, Price’s face communicated an epic internal struggle. Fenway Park was cacophonic, and not one fan in that bandbox trusted this tall, somber, bearded hurler. In extreme closeup, we watched Price carry the weight of the world. We watched him close his eyes, tilt back his head, exhale, and search for his happy place as he pitched against the most formidable lineup in the National League. He ground it out for the win. Monkey off back.
We each try to do something nearly impossible as best it can be done. In trying, we live in a constant state of failing. Madness, really. But still we try. Here’s to David Price, demonstrating why we keep carrying that rock back up the hill.
David M. Rocchio lives, works and writes in Stowe. Email letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.