Local educators of politics discuss election process, results

Thursday November 8, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- The nation has spoken.

The re-election of President Barack Obama, whether you love him or hate him, sealed another four years for one of the most historic administrations in American history by defeating Republican Mitt Romney. Forty-four years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law to combat racial discrimination, the United States elected an African-American to the highest office in the land and then Tuesday granted him a second term.

Every news organization delivered up-to-the-minute analysis on the election and pundits left and right offered their insight and opinions as information flowed in. Early numbers showed Romney with a hefty lead but Obama then started to capture key states and soon achieved the 270 electoral votes necessary to clinch the election.

Three local experts, Tim Kipp, Bill Holiday and Meg Mott, have made it their life's work to both study and educate people about the intricacies of American politics and the election process.

Kipp has taught law and government classes at Brattleboro Union High School for 39 years and made it a point to bring his students of voting age to the polls on Tuesday.

In regards to Romney winning the early states such as Kentucky, Kipp said it wasn't unpredicted. He said swing states like Ohio, Virginia and Florida usually prove to be the game-changer.

"It certainly ended a lot quicker than I thought it would," he said. "I thought it was going to be a long night."

CNN and NBC are believed to be the first news entities to call the election for Obama and were soon followed by Fox News, which many claim is conservatively biased.

Vermont has been a reliable blue state for a long time and WCAX reported a 71-percent voter turnout in the Green Mountain State. Kipp said voting rates higher than the national level are fairly typical for the state.

"Vermont always breaks the mold in many ways," he said, adding that the national percentage was around 60 percent. He said that number makes him more optimistic about political participation than he has been in a while.

Holiday, in his 41st year of teaching history at BUHS, said he followed the presidential developments after working as an election official in Dummerston during the day. He said 1,178 of the town's 1,600 registered voters showed up to the polls on Tuesday and 363 cast ballots before Election Day.

"You'd like everybody to vote but I guess that's not humanly possible," he said with a slight laugh.

Holiday said he regularly checked CNN on his iPhone for updates once he got home.

He said the early-going is not a good indicator of an election's outcome and Tuesday night proved that.

Mott, a professor of politics at Marlboro College, said she did not watch Tuesday's election coverage but said votes from Latino, African-American and woman demographics swung favor toward Obama.

She said the Republican Party tends to cater to white males and the GOP is doomed if it keeps up that trend.

Some say Obama's policies, such as health care reform, border on socialism and he doesn't deserve another four years. But Kipp told the Reformer this is a critical time for America, especially its youth.

"In terms of a second term, it's very important in order to attempt the types of reforms that have to be institutionalized," he said in reference to distancing the country from the policies of President George W. Bush. "Just look at the New Deal, with all it faults, which said government is and should play an important role in our lives. Not that we depend on it, but it is."

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.


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