Two views on the election results

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(Host) Commentators Cheryl Hanna and Libby Sternberg reflect on the recent election and offer Two Views on who won, and who lost. Here’s Cheryl Hanna:

(Hanna) Let’s call it like it is: This ain’t Texas. A typical Vermont Republican looks a lot more like Ann Richards than she does like George Bush. Which is why nationally one of the biggest losers is our little state.

Senators Leahy and Jeffords, who brought to Vermont millions of federal dollars, and moderation to the President’s radically conservative politics will no longer have the power we’ve recently taken for granted. And most Vermonters value the environment, civil liberties, and personal choice far more than does the National Republican Agenda. The effects of this election could be more cruel than a Vermont winter and last longer than a Texas mile.

Statewide, some of the biggest losers were independently-minded voters. In the final weeks of the campaign, the major parties played the worst case scenario game with the Vermont Constitution and wrongly dissuaded many Vermonters from voting their conscience. As a result, neither Con Hogan nor Anthony Pollina got the votes I think they otherwise deserved.

But Hogan and Pollina are among the winners. They talked straight about the issues, campaigned ethically and enthusiastically; and paved the way for more independent and third party candidates, reminding me that when it comes to democracy, just like in sports, sometimes it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose but how you play the game.

My pick for this year’s most valuable team player is Senator Susan Bartlett. She was instrumental in helping Vermont Democrats regain legislative seats they lost in the Civil Union struggle. A chorus of voice is good for all Vermonters, and the Democrats will certainly tone down the new governor’s more conservative agenda. Rumor has it Bartlett’s likely to be elected Senate President. If so, she’ll be the first woman to hold that position.

And speaking of firsts, kudos also to Shelia Prue and Connie Allen, the first women to be elected Sheriff in Vermont’s 225-year history. There’s just something inspiring when the voters help shatter another glass ceiling. Besides, Texas had its first woman sheriff 100 year ago, so it’s about time.

This is Cheryl Hanna.

(Sternberg) And I’m Libby Sternberg in Rutland. The election results are in, but here’s my list of this year’s winners and losers:

Winner: President George W. Bush. He may not have been on the ballot, but his relentless campaigning for GOP candidates put his issues and his reputation front and center. He could have comfortably sat back, taken no risks, and blamed losses on tradition. He showed political courage in stumping for GOP candidates and it paid off.

Loser: Former Vice President Walter Mondale, who may have lost much more than just his race to Norm Coleman in Minnesota.

Loser: Polling companies used by Vermont media. Throughout the campaign, their numbers showed Jim Douglas behind, even trailing by as much as ten points! I believe most Vermont polls routinely under-represent Republican votes. Hopefully, pollsters and the media who pay for them will more thoughtfully analyze results.

Loser: Obviously, Jim Jeffords, whose loss actually began right after his party switch two years ago. His new Democratic friends couldn’t deliver on the Northeast Dairy Compact, and even Ted Kennedy voted for the President’s education bill. Now, Jeffords is in the difficult position of having his friends out of power and his former colleagues, whom he wronged, in.

Finally, the biggest winner in the past week was good old-fashioned graciousness. It took center stage here in Vermont when Lt. Governor Doug Racine did what had to be one of the most difficult things in his life – stand before a crowd of supporters and media and tell them the race was over. That kind of gracious display of political unity makes us all winners in the end.

Libby Sternberg is a freelance writer, former Chair of the Rutland County Republican Party, and is active in education issues. Cheryl Hanna is a professor at Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vermont.

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