Morrisseau sees candidacy as referendum

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(Host) Few people have been active in Vermont elective politics for as long as Dennis Morrisseau.

Morrisseau began his political career in 1970 when he ran for Congress as a Democrat.

Thirty six years later he is running again – this time under his own banner. VPR’s Steve Zind profiles the candidate

(Zind) It’s a busy day in Dennis Morrisseau’s campaign for U.S. House. In the morning he was a guest on a Brattleboro radio call in show.

Just as he finishes an interview with a reporter at his West Pawlett apartment, he gets a call from a Northeast Kingdom newspaper looking to do an article.

(Zind) This interview trifecta is a first for Morrisseau. He says he’s had a hard time getting the attention of the media.

(Morrisseau) “Every alternative candidate in this state is being wildly discriminated against and disappeared by all established media in this state.”

(Zind) The former law school student’s political activism began during the Vietnam War when Morrisseau was an officer in the Army.

He was arrested when he appeared in uniform in front of the White House, holding a sign that said: “120 thousand American casualties. Why?”

In 1970 Morrisseau ran for Vermont’s congressional seat as an anti-war candidate. He was a Democrat in that race. After losing the primary he went on to help form the Liberty Union Party. Then he left the party.

Morrisseau ran for U.S. Senate and Congress again in 70s as a Democrat. He says he’s been a Republican for most of the past 15 years. If that sounds like he can’t make up his mind about his politics, Morrisseau begs to differ.

(Morrisseau) “No, it sounds like a guy who grows – Changes. I got into small business. I understood for the first time what business was.”

(Zind) Morrisseau’s business was a Burlington restaurant and bar called Leunig’s – still a popular Church Street eatery. He’s long since sold it.

For the past two years, Morrisseau has worked to organize people to run for Congress – and failed. That’s when realized he’d have to do it himself.

(Morrisseau) “I didn’t really mean to run. I did it three times, come on. It’s not that much fun.”

(Zind) His aim, Morrisseau says, is to run all of the incumbents out of Congress.

(Morrisseau) “They’ve written the law and structured politics in such a way legally that you cannot get them out.”

(Zind) He says serving in Congress should be like jury duty. People should come from all walks of life, serve once and leave.

Morrisseau also wants to see a change in the executive branch. That’s why he’s listed on the November ballots as the “Impeach Bush Now” candidate. He chose that phrase because he believes it will resonate the most with voters.

(Morrisseau) “I’ve got to pick the one that everybody right now understands, and what everybody understands clearly now is this President and this Vice-President really need to go.”

(Zind) If, as Morrisseau says, lightening strikes and he is elected, impeaching the President would be high on his agenda.

So would investigating the September 11th attacks, which he says were carried out with the involvement of rogue elements of the U.S. government.

These are the areas he’s concentrating on as a candidate. Morrisseau says focusing on issues like health care and social security is a pointless exercise.

(Morrisseau) “I’ll discuss as the other candidates do all these fanciful things that you cannot get out of this Congress because the Congress is bought and sold and not owned by you and you aren’t going to get them! So it’s fake.”

(Zind) Morrisseau sees his candidacy as a referendum. He knows it’s unlikely he’ll win, but he wants to earn enough votes and attract enough attention to spark a movement to impeach the President and Vice President and ultimately change the entire political system.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind in West Pawlett.

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