Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Vermont & the Progressive Paradox

In the early 20th century the nation’s progressive movement attempted to control concentrated wealth and widen democratic participation. For a quarter century, reforms addressed workers’ rights, monopoly excesses, political corruption, uncontrolled development, and the impacts of the early industrial era. In the process, many people got relief from the worst effects of uncontrolled capitalism, a considerable accomplishment. 

Yet, many of the efforts quelled popular discontent rather than producing basic changes, and the resulting reforms were often co-opted by business interests to serve their own interests. The same can be said of the most recent progressive era, led in Vermont by Bernie Sanders. 

On March 3, 2009 voters in Burlington again chose a mayor. Incumbent Bob Kiss, the third progressive to hold the office over the previous 28 years, defeated Democratic, Republican, Green and Independent challengers. Three years later, however, local voters elected Miro Weinberger, the first Democratic Party mayor in over 30 years. To put the 2009 election and the Burlington progressive movement in perspective, this eight-part essay looks at the process that began with the election of Sanders on March 3, 1981 and subsequently changed the face of Vermont politics.

Chapter Two: Rhetoric & Reality

Chapter Three: Identity Crisis

Chapter Four: Beyond Bernie

Chapter Five: Quality Control

Chapter Six: Pragmatic Populism

Chapter Seven: Mixed Messages

Chapter Eight: Small Changes