The Jeffords Effect: Vermonters Share Opinons

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(Zind) I’m Steve Zind in Montpelier. It’s unlikely many people have changed their minds about the wisdom of Jeffords’ decision in the year since he announced his switch. A survey of the breakfast crowd at Montpelier’s Coffee Corner found that most people saw Jeffords’ move in light of it’s broader political implications, not in terms of specific issues.

(Montage of voices)

“I’m sure it’s made a difference, from everything you read. Committee appointments and a lot of things that aren’t obvious.”

“I just was not happy with his decision. I don’t think that it’s helped us, no.”

“I think it made a symbolic difference more than an actual one. I think for us in Vermont, it certainly made a wonderful symbolic difference. I have mailed “Thanks Jim” bumper stickers to a number of people who have asked me to in other states. In terms of actual difference, he still has only one vote.”

“I think it shifted the balance from the far right and it just really slowed down a more conservative agenda that most of us, the people that I know in Vermont, weren’t really in alignment with.”

“I agree. I think that what it brought back was a sense of reasonability. The fear for me was this huge sort of swing to the conservative side was just going to take us over and swell us up which in some way it’s doing with the current president, but the Senate kind of helps keep the checks and balances.”

“I think that Republicans are much more apt to act for the security of the United States and for the rest of the world. In these recent times, we definitely need a more conservative government. By shifting power of the U.S. government over to a more liberal standpoint, it’s been a bad thing.”

(Zind) It’s clear that most people feel Jeffords’ decision has had an effect and that a year later, just about everyone has an opinion on whether it’s been good or bad.

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

(Host) Tomorrow in our series on “The Jeffords Effect,” VPR’s Nina Keck looks at the role Senator Patrick Leahy has played as the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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