Heads in the Sand: The “Democratic” Forums and the Attempts to Silence Dennis Steele

Dennis Being ConfrontedBy Matthew Cropp

The events of the last month have powerfully revealed the descent of the campaign for Vermont Governor into the realm of farce. While the anointed Republican Brian Dubie sits idly on the side-lines waiting for a Democratic front-runner to emerge, the five Democrats have initiated a whirlwind “consensus-fest” tour of the Vermont, holding forums across the State during which they agree with each other for ninety minutes in front of a live audience. This has, obviously, led to some incredibly boring and near meaningless public meeting, which have only been spiced up by the presence of independent candidate Dennis Steele.

This is despite the fact that, due to a somewhat fishy sequence of events, Mr. Steele has not been invited to participate in any forum. At the first event of the campaign season, invitations were sent out to all of the candidates who’d made campaign treasurer filings with the Secretary of State; Dennis had just announced his candidacy and hadn’t yet made that filing, so his exclusion was understandable, if annoying. Soon afterwards, however, it became clear that Mr. Dubie was not going to engage in any forums until the Democratic candidate was determined. As a result, all of the subsequent candidates forums have been labeled Democratic candidates forums. This change made it quite simple to justify organizers’ exclusion of Dennis (or any other independent candidate) from the debates, thus sending the message to voters that only the Democratic candidates (and their opinions) matter.

In spite of this enormous hurdle, Steele has made his voice heard and challenged the weakness of principle and resolve that seems to plague the whole field of Democratic candidates. At the first forum (at which the topic was education), Dennis stood up during the question and answer session and pointed out the deep responsibility the Federal Government has for the erosion of local school control. He then inquired as to what the Democratic candidates would do as Governor to reverse that trend and, if the Feds were unresponsive, if they’d consider political independence. His question stimulated a spirited discussion among the “official” candidates, and expose the whole audience to the idea that we have more options available to us with which to solve our problems that those that the Democrats and Republicans discuss.

Having met with success, Dennis continued this strategy at further forums, confronting the other candidates about such things as bringing the National Guard home from the wars and the fact that, in spite of a Vermont statute legalizing the growing of hemp, the Federal Government still prohibits the production of that valuable cash crop by Vermont farmers. However, the Democrats were catching on to Dennis’ strategy, and began to throw up barriers to having to answer his hard questions. First, at the UVM College Democrats debate, they required that all questions be submitted by the moderator rather than being taken directly from the floor. However, one of the selected questions had been submitted by Steele supporter Steve Liable, and Dennis rose to clarify it when the Democratic candidates deflected its essence. The next event was not open to the public, but was instead peopled by invitees of the sponsoring organizations. Steele was able to circumvent that roadblock by getting a press pass, but when he challenged the candidates about the reality of the budget crisis when $1.5 billion Vermont tax dollars are spent each year on a failed foreign policy, the police pounced and Dennis was escorted out in handcuffs.

This elaborate song and dance powerfully communicates the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of Vermont’s political “leadership”. None of the answers they’re willing to consider even come close to addressing the problems we face: a corrupt, out of control financial system, an empire that is forcing our whole society into bankruptcy, a growing governmental disregard for civil liberties, and the wholesale destruction of the autonomy of local communities. The solutions to these problems require serious resolve, creativity, and a willingness to stand up to the Federal Government; the Establishment candidates, however, want people to keep believing that their stop-gap, band-aid fixes will make everything better. The truth scares them; so much so, in fact, that they’d rather see its messenger led away in handcuffs than take on the heavy responsibility of actually leading Vermont to a better future. Dennis Steele, on the other hand, is ready to take on that task without apology, and deserves your vote this coming November.

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