Opinion

Amend VT Constitution to Select VT Representatives by Majority Vote

Vermont Public Radio Commentary

INTRO:  Commentator Rick Hubbard considers the question: If we amend our Vermont State Constitution so we, not the legislature, elect our next governor; should we elect with only a plurality, or with a majority of voters in support?

 

COMMENTATOR

The practice of allowing our legislature, rather than Vermont voters, to resolve an inconclusive gubernatorial election is a vestige of power originally reserved to our Legislature, then largely white, male property owners, when our state was formed. I think it’s time to amend our State Constitution to always have Vermont voters complete the process.

But if we do this, we’ll have to choose whether to ensure that our next governor is backed by at least half of all voters casting ballots, a majority – or whether it’s better to select whichever candidate gets the most votes, a plurality?

We’ll have to decide which approach best strengthens our political process to serve the interests of all Vermonters?

We normally have multiple candidates running for governor, and this past November we had seven. Typically, with votes split among multiple candidates, if becomes difficult for any one candidate to secure a majority of votes on a first ballot.

Our recent November election provides a good example of this. Continue reading

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Hiking Mt. Mansfield

Vermont Public Radio Commentary

INTRO: For 25 years, commentator Rick Hubbard has spent most Tuesday mornings hiking Mt. Mansfield with a group of friends.

COMMENTARY

Shortly before 7am most Tuesday mornings, my life-partner Sally and I meet a small group of friends in the parking lot at the base of Stowe Mountain Resort.

We come to hike Mt. Mansfield, as many of us have been regularly doing for more than 25 years. Most Tuesdays, our goal is the top of the quad ski lift, high on the mountain.

Throughout the year we experience all kinds of weather, and dress accordingly. At various times in winter we climb with Micro-spikes, or snowshoes, or skis with climbing skins. But on warm and sunny days in the late summer or fall, we climb in trail shoes or hiking boots.

Often we head diagonally up along the Crossover trail at a conversational pace, passing several of Stowe’s famous downhill runs. But when we get to the North Slope trail, conversation stops and it gets more serious. Each of us then heads uphill as rapidly as we can, and slowly we drift further apart according to our various abilities.

At the top, we regroup, snap a picture, and head down together, when it’s time for conversation again.

I’m 72 now and most of us are in our 60’s or 70’s. We’re all clearly in, or approaching, what we might call “use it or lose it territory” and I’m sure we all share the same preference to keep our fitness up as long as we can. Continue reading

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Independence Day – How Are We Doing

Vermont Public Radio Commentary

INTRO: As our Independence Day holiday approaches, commentator Rick Hubbard suggests we ask ourselves an important question related to the founding of our country, and then think about its implications.

As we the people gather together in remembrance this Fourth of July, it’s a good time to ask ourselves this simple question: How well are my individual interests, and our collective interests, being represented today by our Washington politicians?

It’s an important question, because the issue of improper representation is the main reason we declared our independence from Great Britain in 1776, fought a war, and founded our country. The original settlers of America had come to feel that, in levying taxes on the colonists, King George the 3rd was representing his own interests, and those of his wealthy trading company backers, without properly considering the interests of American colonists.

So when our founders gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 to draft our original Constitution, they were very sensitive to this issue of improper representation.

During their debate, this question emerged. What if we set up a new form of government and, at some future time, a majority of the people feel it’s happening again, and Congress won’t fix it?

Many now argue that time has arrived.

There’s ample documentation that outcomes of legislation, regulations, and policy are often tipped in favor of the interests of wealthy contributors. The minority party in Congress often engages in tactics that promote gridlock in order to hopefully become the majority party, rather than to actually resolve issues important to American citizens. Continue reading

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Gubernatorial Candidates Need to Debate Healthcare

Vermont Public Radio Commentary

INTRO: Commentator Rick Hubbard thinks our gubernatorial candidates should begin answering a health care question that Vermont voters are asking.

 

A few weeks ago, Vermont Public Television and the Times Argus hosted a Barre Opera House debate among three of our gubernatorial candidates; Jim Douglas, Doug Racine and Con Hogan.

A South Burlington woman was selected from the audience to ask her question. She first made this statement.

“The recently issued Lewin report on health care delivery in Vermont stated that if all monies now spent on health care were collected and disbursed by a single entity, all Vermonters could receive comprehensive health care privately provided by doctors at an annual savings of over $100 million dollars. Our current approach does not insure all Vermonters and has resulted in huge administrative cost increases.”

Then she asked each candidate: “Would you encourage a debate about which is the better delivery approach?”

None of the three gubernatorial candidates answered her question!

Each simply explained their views on health care.

If they did actually debate alternatives, here are some questions they ought to answer.

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Weakening National Security

INTRO: Commentator Rick Hubbard is concerned about whether our possible invasion of Iraq, and its consequences, will in the long run strengthen or weaken our national security.

COMMENTATOR
I believe our country is strongest when using its power and prestige working collaboratively with other nations to safeguard citizens, spread democracy and freedom, protect basic human rights, provide political and economic choice, and expand and strengthen the rule of law throughout the world.

Today, the United States enjoys a position of unparalleled military and economic power. We have much to lose. With only four point six percent of the world’s population, we bring home twenty four percent of the world’s entire economic production. Whether we use our power to invade Iraq, and under what circumstances, and with what consequences, poses a truly watershed moment for our country.

There are those amongst us today who advocate for an imperial United States, pre-emptive invasions and military domination of space. In the name of fighting terrorism and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction they are dismissive of the United Nations and the rule of international law.

This is a false choice which will affect our political influence and reputation, our economic strength and our national security itself over the next ten, twenty, even fifty years. Continue reading

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