Politics a family affair for Diamondstones
BRATTLEBORO -- When Peter Diamondstone looks over Vermont's Nov. 6 election ballot, he can pick out the names of two sons, a daughter and a grandson -- not to mention his own.
The Brattleboro resident does not find this unusual: Rather than questioning why there are so many Diamondstones seeking elected office, he comments on why there aren't more.
"All it says to me is, we didn't have enough children," he said.
Diamondstone is the patriarch of the Liberty Union Party, which he helped found and nurture in Vermont in the early 1970s. It is popularly characterized as a "nonviolent socialist" party, a description Diamondstone agrees with.
Just don't call it a third party.
"I don't use the word ‘third,' because it implies that there are two others, and there aren't," he said. "There aren't two parties. It's a one-party system."
He is stridently anti-war and anti-establishment, and he believes there is "no alternative" to revolution. But he doesn't believe that word has to carry connotations of violence, pointing to the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement.
"I don't believe in violence, and revolution can come without violence on the part of the revolutionaries," he said. "It may be that the establishment uses violence, as they did during Occupy."
So he continues to pursue a Liberty Union agenda through the ballot: By his own count, he has unsuccessfully pursued state office more than 20 times.
"I started out (as a candidate) for attorney general because nobody else would do it," he said.
This year, Diamondstone is a candidate for U.S. Senate. That race features Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent seeking his second term; Republican challenger John MacGovern; Cris Ericson of the United States Marijuana Party; Peace and Prosperity candidate Peter Moss; and VoteKISS candidate Laurel LaFramboise.
It is the highest-profile office that a Diamondstone is seeking. But it is far from the only one.
Diamondstone's daughter, Jessy, is making her first political run as a Liberty Union candidate for state treasurer. A recent breakfast gathering at her Dummerston home also featured three other Liberty Union candidates for state Senate and House -- all family members.
The youngest is Jessy Diamondstone's son, Owen. A 20-year-old student, his first foray into politics is a campaign for state House in the Windham 4 state House district, which features incumbent Democrats Mike Mrowicki and David Deen.
At a Thursday political forum in Townshend, Owen Diamondstone remarked that he has been "going to Vermont Yankee protests since before I could walk, because I grew up in a family that just did that."
He sees politics in a similar light.
"For me, it feels kind of natural because that's just what my family does," he said.
Seated nearby was Aaron Diamondstone, Peter Diamondstone's oldest son and a candidate for a Windham County state Senate seat. The Marlboro resident, who has run for Senate several times, is up against Democratic incumbents Peter Galbraith and Jeanette White.
"I'd really like to see socialism take over the whole country," Aaron Diamondstone said, envisioning a scenario "where everybody gets a fair wage and everybody gets health care -- a safety net, so that everybody gets a chance."
The owner of a heating/solar business, he says his candidacy is all about "party-building."
"If the Liberty Union party ceases to be, then I believe Vermont heads backwards," he said.
Seated across the table was his brother, Ian Diamondstone, who describes himself as frustrated with an us-vs.-them mentality in political campaigns.
"The media has set it up so that we're following a football game," he said.
Ian Diamondstone, whose job titles include owner of a spice company and manager of a maple-syrup company, is a Brattleboro resident seeking the town's District 3 state House seat. Democrat Tristan Toleno is the only other candidate for that seat.
Diamondstone is opposed to skatepark plans at the town's Crowell Lot and is concerned about crime in Brattleboro.
"There are some pretty serious issues that can be addressed," he said.
Jessy Diamondstone said she had doubts about pursuing elected office but ultimately was convinced that "this is really what democracy is all about."
"I'm doing it this year because I've never seen the people so ready for a change in my life," she said. "I think the Occupy movement was an indication of global solidarity."
Liberty Union is the right party for that change, she said, because its candidates are not afraid to take strong positions.
"We won't play that game," she said. "That's the one thing we have in common."
Her son chimed in with a one-liner: "That, and we're not going to get elected."
That's a fact acknowledged by most of the Diamondstones. But it's a fact that doesn't stop the family's most-experienced candidate from putting his name on the ballot time and again.
"I wouldn't vote if I wasn't on the ballot," Peter Diamondstone said, adding that he believes giving voters a choice is itself a valuable contribution.
"There is no lesser of two evils. Evil is absolute," he said. "And I want people to feel free and liberated by the act of voting, not constrained and manipulated."
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.
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