An estimated 15-20 thousand people descended on Montpelier, VT to march on the Vermont State House on the 21st of January, 2017, to rally for women’s rights, gender equality, and LGBTQ rights in opposition to the vapid and vile rhetoric of Donald Trump, his supporters, and his presidency. I was there with one fist in the air and a camera in my other.
I’ve lived in this beautiful state my entire life. I was born at Rutland Hospital (before it was re-dubbed RRMC). I attended Rutland schools (Dana Elementary, Northeast Elementary, Rutland Junior High School, and my class was the first to attend all four years at the new RHS). Aside from two years in Burlington, I’ve been here my whole life. I remember when the hard drugs swept through. I watched this city slide, its shine dampening in a faltering economy. I am one of the people fighting to bring it back. I haven’t given up hope and I chide those who slight it. But it is so hard to do that when good paying jobs flutter away in this employer’s market. I am not a social parasite nor a career welfare recipient. I want to go to work, earn my keep, and support my son.
We live in a beautiful state. All I see on social media are people complaining about taxes, the cost of living, “librull dems”, and so on. Yeah, the cost of living is high. Rents feel much higher than elsewhere. Yes, we sometimes have trouble attracting business because we tax them and insist on not allowing them to screw up our land. I think that’s a worthy trade off, considering the state of the land in more industry-friendly places. I have no qualms going to bat for Vermont to defend those policies. People who do not like that can go somewhere less ecologically sound. Vermont has a character we can be proud of.
I am not typically one to join in the mindless “omg shummy ruining vermont omg derp librulls derp” comment bandwagon often seen on social media. I’ve even gone so far as to mock them using the ‘ThanksObama’ meme as #thanksshummy. In fact, despite a couple differences of opinion (really? The GMO labeling bill? Way to make Vermont look like science-ignorant bandwagon jumpers-on… but whatever), I’ve consistently voted for and defended you. But seriously, this call for out of state workers is completely the wrong thing to do. How about spending some focus on getting local workers up to the needed skill levels? We aren’t short on people looking for work! We aren’t short on skilled workers. We aren’t short on people who could become those needed workers. I’ve been in web and IT for 15 years, but right now I’m a minimum wage employee delivering meals to seniors, barely scraping by as a single parent of a special needs child on 3squaresVT, Medicaid, and subsidized housing. I understand we have a population loss problem, but perhaps it would be better to address why young people leave rather than cull from the outside. When I think about people from out of state having a direct line advantage over me to jobs I may be qualified for, not only does it boil my blood but it breaks my spirit. It truly breaks my spirit and my heart to fight for this state and have it discard me for someone elsewhere.
I ask you, I implore you, Gov. Shumlin, do not give up on Vermonters. We deserve better than that. We deserve a chance.