**This commentary is by Rep. Laura Sibilia, an independent who represents the Windham-Bennington district in the Vermont House of Representatives.**
“It feels like our nation is collectively holding its breath waiting for Election Day and praying for some check on this dangerous presidency.
In the whole course of history, it has never been true that one party had a monopoly on good ideas, common sense, or the pulse of the people. One party controlling the House, Senate and executive branch does not make for good government for all Americans. Particularly when that party elects to work in a partisan manner because they can, and disregard a large portion of the electorate, including, especially, the 40 percent of independent Americans who don’t consider themselves partisan at all. We desperately need a check on the Republicans in Washington, D.C., who have failed to limit the dangerous self-proclaimed nationalist occupying the Oval Office and so count me in as hopeful we will see a strong blue wave roll into DC.
Americans and Vermonters don’t like how things work under an unchecked supermajority. They want leaders who will compromise, collaborate and work to solve problems, but our country’s two-party system does not readily reward that type of governing. Vermonters historically have been comfortable taking a different way than the rest of the country, and thus far seem to have staved off the worst of the increasingly alarming partisan dysfunction.
In the last election Vermonters sent divided government to Montpelier: a moderate and courageous Republican governor, a Progressive Democratic Senate and the most politically diverse legislative body in the country, the Vermont House of Representatives led by a Democratic speaker of the House who operates on the premise that including all voices and parties ensures better problem-solving. Speaker Mitzi Johnson has presided over a body that includes the most elected centrist independents in the country — independents like Ben Jickling of Brookfield and Ed Read of Fayston who help the Democratic majority craft and pass more balanced legislation, and moderate Democrats like Rural Economic Development Working Group Co-Chair Chip Conquest of Newbury and socially moderate/fiscally conservative Republicans like Heidi Scheuermann of Stowe and Fred Baser of Bristol and seven elected Progressives. There is no other legislative body in the country that houses this many different political parties and elected centrist independents.
The resulting implementation and creation of Vermont policy is managed by a governor willing to buck the national Republican Party and also willing to veto the Democratically controlled Legislature and a House of Representatives with a political prejudice towards the center. This divided government set-up, while uncomfortable for the most partisan Vermonters and party leaders, and more reliant on the threat of gubernatorial veto than would be needed with a more politically diverse Senate, actually works fairly well. There is always room for improvement, but not by wiping out the need for bipartisan collaboration.
Which brings us back to the national election and that big blue wave that looks like it could be a tsunami in Vermont. Vermonters are also Americans and Americans are scared about where we are headed with our national politics. We are seeing voluminous early voter turnout in the Green Mountain State and reports from door-to-door canvassing that there is a strong desire to punish national Republicans for not providing a check on our self-proclaimed nationalist president. Hopefully Vermonters direct their anger precisely and not generally. If you are currently being represented by a centrist independent, a moderate Republican or Democrat, think long and hard before opting to punish our president by punishing those who commit to bipartisanship function and political courage in Vermont. It takes courage to run and serve without a party and it also takes courage to tell your party no. Hopefully the “blue wave” is able to bring a check to Washington without taking out moderates in Vermont. We need balance and knowledgeable legislators to get things done. This is a reminder that your vote is not just symbolic.”