by James Ehlers

That is my New Year’s Resolution: Hope for the best and plan for the worst.  Actually, it is my all-year resolution.  My everyday resolution.  I share it with the hope it will be the new Administration’s working maxim, as well.  To date, however, the staff of the Governor Shumlin Administration has given me more reason to industriously invest more of my time in the latter.  But, you say, it’s early yet.  True.  It could get much worse.

It has nothing to do with his party affiliation. I like parties. It has nothing to do with politics in its most encompassing sense.  I like politics. It has everything to do with more of the same Machiavellian-style party politics, with which both sides engage.  A team of rivals?  Seriously? How about a team of competents [sic]?  A team of party cheerleaders?  How about a team of qualifieds [sic]?  That would be “change.”

I dislike parties when mixed with politics.  Sort of like drinking and driving.  People know they should not do it, but they do.  And then they’ll rationalize it.  And, the worst glorify it.  When, in reality, nothing good can ever come of it – like party politics.

They exist to divide us from one another, the way a drunken- driver accident destroys families.

I think both parties are wrong. Most of the time. Like most complicated things in life, the truth lies somewhere in between.  Do note, however, in between does not necessarily mean the middle. Of course, Tea Partiers and their liberal anti-Christ counterparts – the Rachel Maddow sycophants -do not constitute my idea of thoughtful problem solvers, as groups, either.  All of them, party ideologues and party haters, who, ironically,

are de facto parties themselves, are wrong.  Nothing more than sports fans, really.  Cheering when their team wins and pouting when it does not.  Mindlessly ridiculing the other team, likely for no reason other than the color of their uniform.

What else could it be?  They are all engaged in the same pursuit – the pursuit of power.  If it were really about helping the disadvantaged, they would be organizing fundraisers for the food bank.  If it were really about creating jobs, they would start a business and offer employment. If it were really about the people, they would appoint the most qualified our communities have to offer, not the most likely to write them a check or

sing for them.  The country, the state and our lives should not be run by fans who hate the other teams’ fans.  But they are.

With a Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives, the place where all spending bills originate as all good students of civics are most aware, and an all Democrat Vermont federal delegation and a Democrat governor, we, the people, are the ball in the red and blue game of ping and pong.  Prepare to get bounced around and told why we should be happy about getting smashed into the net.

In a state where so much of our quality of life depends on federal dollars propping up our state budget, I suggest we all hope for the best, and plan, and plan some more, for the worst.

Yes, I know.  I have heard it before:  This is the way the world works, and I should not be so idealistic.  I say: this is precisely why the world does not work.  Look around.  If you don’t agree that we could do better by each other and for ourselves, I think you play too many games yourself, and likely spend too much time ranting about teams who will trade your hero for a dollar.  Don’t you think it’s time we took away their paddles and put an end to the games?

It’s early, though; perhaps our governor will be the man he promised me he would be. I am idealistic.

Pax et bonum.

James Ehlers is publisher emeritus of Livin’ the Vermont Way magazine.