If you've been following the continuing efforts of the Fourth Estate, you know that it's about as unusual as a blizzard over William Shakespeare's fictional Prospero's Island-of "The Tempest" fame-for an accredited editorial writer to admit a blindspot in his commentary. Perhaps it's ok for a mere weekly amateur such as your humble scribe, moi?
My judgment gap came while pondering whether Vermonters, like so many living in other states, might contemplate some sort of territorial breakup or even secession (the last actual multi-state attempt had a sorry outcome), because of internal differences in political and governance objectives.
I thought Vermonters might consider either an individual town defection (think: Killington) or even a New England-in-the-1820s or Thomas Naylor-in-the-present sort of secession debate.
I had toyed with, and rejected, the notion of a virtual Vermont of pretty much disenfranchised old Vermonters practicing some form of traditional self-government while co-existing geographically mixed (but governmentally-separated) among the new in-migrants-because the facts on the ground are that there's no place in the state (not even the Northeast Kingdom) where the now dominant group is clearly absent. There is simply no place to furnish a sanctuary for the now subordinate group.
My error in thinking this couldn't be done may well be proven wrong by the example of Hawaii.
What's about to take place in the Aloha State could possibly come to pass in the Green Mountain State albeit for somewhat different reasons.
The Hawaii proposal-known as the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act-calls for the 6 percent of Hawaii's 1.3 million residents who are truly natives to be self-governing with a set of laws parallel to, and different from, the set of laws under which the other 94 percent will live (and pay taxes, and be regulated, and so on).
The 400,000 or so entitled Hawaiian natives, wherever they now live, will get a going-away gift of a couple million acres of land to which they don't have to move plus a few dozen millions of federal grant dollars to establish and operate their own governance. One step forward, two steps backward.
Who gets to fine these Hawaiian elites for speeding on Waikiki Boulevard? What if they behave badly after dark in Honolulu's bar-brothel-arts district? The news stories I've read don't say.
The separation is based on race and culture, the articles I've read do say. The free-at-last natives would have their own Virtual Hawaii, right in there physically mixed with, but politically separate from, the traditional (since US annexation in 1898, anyway) Hawaii.
Regarding the theory of what's good for Hawaii could be good for Vermont: Why not give 1 million acres of Vermont's 6 million acres to the Yankee natives who were doing fine before to the down-country Volvoid gentrification-incursions began during the 1960s?
It's at least arguable that the once-distinct Yankee culture, responsible for creating from wilderness the farm-and-village landscape so attractive to the suburbia-fleeing inmigrants, is as worthy of preservation and self-governance as the Polynesian one now recognized.
Like the cardiologist, standing alongside his favorite mechanic, and peering under the hood of his Mercedes and hearing the auto expert say, "There's a lot we don't yet understand about valve lifters,"there's much about a virtual Hawaii which is so far unexplored.
I can visualize where Hawaiian schools might be separate but equal, but who will pay for and staff such government functions as highways, jails, and the volcano and tsunami-warning centers?
Will the crater of Mauna Loa be off-limits to non-Polynesians?
Will the real Polynesians demand the return of Pearl Harbor to its pre-U.S. Navy conditions,or will they just demand rent? (Oops, I've just been informed they're already demanding rent.)
Would Hawaii Five-O law enforcement be executed differently based on now-approved racial profiling, just as Shakespeare's "The Tempest" was built around some Europeans arrival on, and take-over of, a non-European-owned island?
Check with your high school English student regarding Caliban and Ariel, the ungentrified natives versus Prospero and Miranda (the gentry intruders), for what's being taught alongside historical literature in our ideologically post-colonial era.
Similarly, for a Virtual Vermont-
Would the natives continue to be taxed to pay for the imported (and expensive) public education practices they have consistently disliked over the last 40 years of their imposition, or, as in Hawaii.
Would they be left alone to run their own schools as they once did? Even though they wouldn't, most likely, get their own million acres, would they get to adopt and implement their own zoning on what small pieces of their state they still, nominally, own?
If academic inmigrant to the Town of Charlotte Mr. Thomas Naylor can build a secession movement-on such Enlightenment-level platform planks as keeping Wal-Mart out of town-can the pre-Naylor natives specifically invite a big box store to any Vermont town of their choice, if they so wish?
The underlying question in both states is one of (in Grover Norquists's memorable phrase) "The right to be left alone" to which the members of his "leave us alone" coalition have always aspired.
In Hawaii, the natives want out from under the control of the non-native majority. In Vermont, the same sentiment underlies the woodchucks v. flatlanders tension.
It isn't a conventional right v. left political argument, as shown by a quote (which I have taken the liberty of paraphrasing) from liberal-progressive Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis during the 1920s: "Every citizen has the right to be left alone by his government."
If, under a Virtual Hawaii Law, the native islanders get some reprieve from their inmigrant mainland rulers and tormentors, couldn't the same device have a similar outcome in the Green Mountain State? Native Vermonters could create some legal distance between the new, elite Vermont created by the gentry inmigrants. My initial thought about this idea was "not very likely," but with luck I might yet be proven wrong.
Ex-Vermont resident Martin Harris lives in soggy Tennessee.