Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Second Vermont Republic: A Vermont Fairy Tale

The recent Vemont election has finally exposed the Second Vermont Republic polls commissioned by Thomas Naylor to be the misleading and deceitful constructs that I've always said they were. (see Vermont Secession Polls section in the column to the right)

Naylor's handpicked candidate for Vermont governor, Connecticut native Dennis Steele, finished the race at what can only be described as a very distant and abysmal third place. Some of the independents who ran speak of this third place showing in an unreal way, as though the three "top" vote getters were all within a few votes of each other. Of the 241,605 votes cast, nearly 240,000 supported Dennis Steele's opponents. Steele has the support of approximately 0.79% of Vermonters who voted.

Given that Naylor has been telling the out of state press and anyone else who'd listen that a UVM poll (that he rarely tells people that he'd written and commissioned) showed that 13% of Vermont voters supported the notion of secession, something must have gone terribly, terribly wrong over the past 10 months for the tiny band that comprised the Steele campaign. Indeed, Naylor has "extrapolated" that his polls indicated somewhere around 60,000 of Vermont's voters support secession. Yet, now that the counting is finally done, Naylor's "extrapolated" projection of the support in Vermont for his and Steele's "imaginings" for secession has fallen short by more than 58,000 votes.

In Charlotte, VT, the town where Thomas Naylor retired to after spending most of his life in the South, and where people generally roll their eyes at the mere mention of Naylor's ambition for Vermont, only 10 people voted for Steele. That's 0.48% of the 2041 votes cast in Charlotte. In Waitsfield, home to "Vermont Commons" publisher and über propagandist for the SVR and Free Vermont crowd, Rob Williams, Steele got 9 votes. Perhaps worst of all, Steele got only 5 votes in his present hometown of Kirby, VT.

So, what went wrong?

Well, nothing really. You see, the so-called "Vermont secessionist movement," said to be making great strides in moving the secessionist ball forward in the United States, has always been an elaborately constructed hoax. Despite "secession activist Thomas Naylor('s)... left-leaning Second Vermont Republic movement" having been described as successful in generating popular support for Vermont's independence, it just ain't so. Steele's vote total is on a par to that of other bizarro fringe candidates that appear from time to time in Vermont.

A part of the structure of the hoax of a Vermont independence movement has been, in addition to the phony poll results, an academic veneer carefully applied during the past 7 years by people such as Naylor, "Professor" Williams, Ian Baldwin, Kirkpatrick Sale, Donald Livingston, Thomas DiLorenzo, Jason Sorens, and a host of other scholarly bullshitters scattered mostly in the South. These guys grind out papers and books at a remarkable pace for something without much success or substance - secession.

Another part of that hoax has been the writers who "corroborate" the overstatement that a movement is afoot and growing. Often these supposedly objective chroniclers of this story repeat unquestioningly the "facts" put forth by the leaders of secession without presenting other contradictory facts that they are aware of, including those that directly undermine the figment of a movement to address the deficiencies of difficult times - secessionism.

No one would dispute that these are difficult times but, really, when in the experience of humankind haven't the times been difficult? Hasn't there also always been a human need to consider something that might be possible to ease or offer a pleasing alternative to the difficulties? (And no, I'm not about to launch into an equation of secession to that other great opiate, religion.)

One such instance of an easier to think of alternative to the hardships of the time occurred in England during the Great War in 1917. It was embraced by theosophists who looked for evidence of the potential for evolutionary development of man. It had to do with the supposed existence of fairies. And it was a hoax.

In order to perpetrate a fraud, a hoax or a con, you need only the con and those who want so badly to believe in an easy path to something better.

Naylor and company have been industriously working at making their secession plan appealing to whoever, and in whatever manner it takes, so as to sell the gullible on their idea. Naylor's called his plan a Genteel Revolution and has come up with all sorts of cute catch phrases to suggest that nothing could be simpler than to opt out of what he calls "the Empire." Along the way he's mangled quotes attributed to early Vermonters, issued a form of currency that he calls a token, purloined the regimental flag of the Vermont National Guard, and has lashed out at virtually every Vermonter and local institution since we have not slavishly endorsed his enthusiasms as has his "small community of secessionists". I'm surprised that they haven't thought yet to conjure up a Vermont Secession fairy for there movement.

The truth is that the Vermont secession movement, like the Cottingley fairies, is simply a hoax. Naylor at first claimed to have 125 members in SVR and then discontinued membership claims. Based on a variety of sources, a more modest figure of somewhere between 20 to 25 people constitute the hardcore center of "membership" to the Free Vermont independence group. Before launching their campaign late last year, a party registration was discouraged. Obviously that was so the true dearth of secessionists would not be revealed. Even at the January 15 announcement this year of their campaigns for statewide and General Assembly offices, they only gathered the usual 20 or so deadender sesechers that always show up for Naylor's dog and pony shows.
"I've been writing about Vermont independence for nearly ten years... and, more often than not, it was for an audience of one."- Thomas Naylor (starts at 3:07)
Vermont has had a history of oddball candidacies, some more successful than others. Just six years ago Peter Stevenson ran for Lt. Governor on the Liberty Union party ticket and received nearly 1400 more votes (3291) than Steele and a higher percentage of the vote total, 1.08%.
"Umm, I, ahh, it would be my privilege to work as Vermont's next Lt. Governor. Umm, I'm a very loyal person. I'm a hard worker and I would do a lot for the people of the state of Vermont. They say a good friend would help you move. A really good friend would help you move a body. And my message to the people of the state of Vermont is, let me know if I need to bring a shovel. Thank You."- Peter Stevenson (starts at 3:33)
Fact is, fringe candidate Stevenson is more real, as well as a more successful candidate, than the fairy tale that there is a growing Vermont secession movement.

Just in case there is any doubt about the unhinged from reality quality that infects the Vermont secesher community, here's their latest InterTubes communiqué from the "provisional capital of Free Vermont," a dispatch, if you will, meant to cash in on all that nomentum they've built up from the election:
Ribbon Cutting & First Plenary Meeting

Posted on November 4, 2010
Center for Vermont Independence

Sunday 12/12 at the Center in Hancock!

Please keep this day open, bring your expertise and ideas.

In 2006 a single Free Vermont candidate ran for governor, a horse
farmer and a man of the theatre known to us as Ethan Allen. This
year, FORTY independents ran! This has led to many new organisational
initiatives. We want to keep the momentum going. Let’s coordinate, support each other, and be successful. Hancock is now the place to go, the provisional capital of Free Vermont.

Let’s please be clear that this is about Vermont’s Independence:
food/energy relocalization, our constitutional liberties, financial
independence from the corporate oligarchy, the post-carbon future of
Vermont. This is not just painting a pretty picture, this is DOING it. Want in?

Potluck meal, bring a dish if you can, then we’ll roll up our sleeves.

In a day the most we can hope to accomplish is to review the current
and future initiatives, and match up talent with those initiatives and future initiatives, and match up talent with those initiatives and
determine how to coordinate. There’s also dealing with media, lessons
learned from the 2010 election. A 2012 discussion will have to be
left for another day. (I’ve already declared for 2012, on Twitter of
all places.)

If people have concerns they should submit an agenda item in advance. New topics will be identified, interested parties can return to meet.

Robert (Wagner, notably unsuccessful secesher candidate for senator from Ripton, VT)
Likewise, Steele intends to cash in on his mandate by launching a new initiative:
Campaign Reflections and the Road AheadNovember 3, 2010

Today represents a beginning, not an end. When I agreed to take on the difficult and exhausting task of running for Governor as an independent this year, I did so with the hopes that my actions would serve to help lay the foundations for a robust, grass-roots movement that will carry the message of a Free Vermont forward. Towards that end, I’ve been collaborating with several supporters to found a democratic, state-wide organization. Dedicated to spreading the ideas of Vermont Independence, providing support for Independence-minded candidates for public office, and organizing volunteer activities that both serve our neighbors and help lessen our communities’ dependence on the Federal Government, it will serve as our movement’s new center and engine of growth. It will be organized by county, and I encourage anyone who supported my campaign to get involved in their county committee.

... Our next step is to build upon the foundations of this success and take our movement to the next level!

Dennis Steele
No doubt that next level is to be somewhere other than where he found himself at the close of the polls - flat on his face.

In the coming months I'll, of course, be reporting on their usual lack of substantive results and the attendant puffery from the "small community" of local seceshers, as well as their out of state supporters and flacks.

Official Vermont Secretary of State results for the 2010 general election may be found here.

Update 6:00 PM: Bleatings from that wisp of a propaganda minister over at VTCommons, Rob Williams - cheeky as always but not much more to him than that.

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For the archive of the Free Vermont Framework listserv, click here.

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