At 4 a.m. the day before every election, my team and I set out on a 14 County Tour, visiting all of Vermont’s 14 counties in one day. This 500-plus mile tour has a way of putting things into perspective. It reinforces how beautiful our state is and how much it has to offer. And it reminds us that the differences between counties and communities can be stark.
We’ve been making progress in closing this gap, but we must do more to make sure every family, in every part of our state, has the tools needed to be healthy, safe, and successful.
So, with the election behind us, I hope everyone elected to serve in Montpelier will work with me to level the playing field from region to region, restoring economic security and prosperity statewide.
And Vermonters want us to work together. They want balance and moderation. They made that clear when electing me with about 70 percent of the vote and Democratic “super-majorities” in the Legislature.
Of course, they don’t want me to be a rubber stamp for the Legislature, nor do they want the Legislature to blindly go along with whatever I put forward. So that means we’ll be debating the issues, which I will continue to do with civility, seeking consensus where possible, compromising when necessary, and agreeing to disagree or let the process run its course when we cannot resolve our differences. Vermonters want us to put their needs ahead of politics.
This type of thoughtful, balanced government — with less partisanship and political positioning — is what gets the best results.
Unfortunately, hyper-partisan political parties are driving Americans further and further apart — and seem to get the most attention from the media.
They feel the strategy focusing on issues that divide us is easier to motivate more people to go to the polls, donate to campaigns, and click on headlines.
But I don’t believe that’s where most Vermonters and Americans are. A large majority of us are somewhere in the center.
And most of us could live without all the labels and name calling.
Think about it. Would you ask your neighbor who they voted for before lending a helping hand in their time need? Of course not.
We need to remember to view each other as people first — fellow Americans — and judge each other by our basic decency, kindness, and generosity toward each other — not political labels.
Just because we don’t agree on every issue doesn’t mean we’re enemies.
The vast majority of people with whom we disagree are, in fact, good people. They want to make a difference in their communities and things better for their kids, family, and friends.
Whether we’re seasoned politicians or newly elected officials, each of us has the power to stop the cycle of partisan politics that is poisoning our nation.
We can lead by example by treating each other with dignity and respect, living up to the responsibility we’ve been given, and remembering that our children are watching. We need to put aside gamesmanship and divisive national agendas to make the people we serve our priority.
I’ll do my part by continuing to work every single day to get the results Vermonters deserve by listening, learning, and leading. And always putting people before politics.