Vermont house of Representatives
The Independent Voice Stowe Deserves
Why I'm Running, and Why I've Chosen to Run as a Proud INDEPENDENT
Since I announced my intention to run for Stowe's seat in the Vermont House of Representatives, many have wondered why. Well, the bottom line is that I want to bring a balanced voice and common-sense approach to the Statehouse as one who is socially liberal but fiscally responsible. As a resident of Stowe for over 20 years, I have a deep love for this town and its people. I have chosen to run because I am invested in the community. I want to use my historical knowledge of Stowe to help shepherd our town into a vibrant and sustainable future.
With the primary election around the corner, I have been watching the political landscape and wanted to share with you my reason for running as an independent. Given the national political discord and the division that has multiplied over the past several years, it’s important to me personally that I provide a voice coming from the middle.
Like many of you, I have watched in bewilderment as our two political parties have grown more adversarial and it has become increasingly difficult for them to work together for the benefit of our country. I recently read “High Conflict” by Amanda Ripley and found it very relevant to our political climate. She hypothesizes that the United States’ binary parties and winner-take-all electoral process creates a corrosive high conflict system.
Our forefathers warned against the power of the binary, defined as the dangerous reduction of realities or choices into just two. As stated by John Adams in a letter to Jonathan Jackson, “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”
Healthy conflict can be extremely productive. It encourages informative debate and problem-solving discourse. However, when this spirals into a high conflict situation, we lose sight of the original problem and start to dehumanize our opponents. We all lose.
Perhaps the most striking analogy Ripley uses to illustrate the high conflict cycle is the La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles. These tar pits are the result of heavy oil fragments seeping to the Earth’s surface, eventually becoming pools of sticky asphalt. Scientists have discovered over three million bones in the tar pits, including hundreds of mammoths, saber tooth tigers and dire wolves.
She describes it as “a living quagmire that fell into a diabolical cycle.” Scientists theorize that a bison lumbered into a tarpit, became stuck and called out in alarm. This alarm attracted predators like dire wolves and their pack. Naturally, the wolves pounced on the helpless bison, and then the wolves got stuck. Their howls attracted more attention and then the scavengers came and the population of the doomed exponentially increased.
Conflict is a trap once it escalates past a certain point. It draws us in with needs, desires, outrage; the more we yell, the more we get pulled into the muck. Healthy conflict has movement, questions get asked, curiosity exists, and it continues to be interesting. High conflict is about stagnation; it’s difficult to remove yourself from it and it’s impossible to move forward productively.
So many of us want out of the high conflict political tar pit, and I want to help pull us out and keep us out of it. Ripley discusses the importance of creating conflict guardrails in politics, and she offers solutions: creating “a space for more than two political parties” and electing “leaders who reject adversarial, us-versus-them language.”
At the local level, I seek to be a conflict guardrail. I will not vote on a party line, but rather I will vote in a manner that represents our town’s best social and financial interests. I hope you will do the same when you cast your vote.
Out of respect for your privacy and any potential COVID-19 concerns you may have, I am not currently doing any door-to-door campaigning. However, I want to remain accessible and meet as many of you as possible so I can learn what is important to you. So, I invite you to join me for coffee at Cafe on Main every Tuesday from 8-9 a.m. and Woodland Bakery every Thursday from 7:30-8:30 a.m.
I’m also happy, at your invitation, to visit with you at your home or another location. Feel free to call me at 802-279-3993 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a time. It is a privilege and a responsibility I feel strongly about, to serve all citizens.