Old dog doesn’t like new tricks of systemic racism, climate change, wealth redistribution
by Rep. Art Peterson
It’s been a long time since I’ve been called a “newbie”, someone new at a position. In my 69 years I’ve been an Army officer for 5 years, a telecommunications engineer for 43 years, a football coach for 15 years, and a volunteer in my community for as long as I can remember. I’ve been married 48 years this month, nothing new there, and I have 4 kids (3 live in Vermont) and 12 grandchildren (9 attend schools in Vermont) so I feel like an experienced parent. So being called new at something made me chuckle. Seeing the freshmen class of some 30 or so legislators, many younger than my own children, made me feel like the old dog I am. The question was, could I learn new tricks.
That question very much depends on what those “new tricks” are. My district, Rutland-2, is the towns of Clarendon, Wallingford, West Rutland, Proctor, and the east side of Tinmouth. I ran, and won, as a conservative Republican, and that is how I’ve chosen to legislate. Of course, the problem is that philosophy puts me at odds with about three-quarters of the 150 member House of Representatives. That has made my first year in the virtual statehouse a little rocky at times. Because I don’t buy into some of the pet causes of the Left, like systemic racism, climate change, and redistribution of wealth, and dared to question their existence I have had to endure some “counseling” about how to conduct oneself in the (virtual) statehouse. I’ve received great supported from my constituents and people across the state happy that someone has finally challenged these unsupported doctrines. So if these tired philosophies are the “new tricks”, folks, count me out! I’ll stick with what works: our capitalist system, personal responsibility, hard work, persistence, great attitude, making good decisions in life, trust the facts and not emotions.
So if these tired philosophies are the “new tricks”, folks, count me out! I’ll stick with what works: our capitalist system, personal responsibility, hard work, persistence, great attitude, making good decisions in life, trust the facts and not emotions.
– Rep. Art Peterson
So what have I learned during this past session? First, I’m impressed with the organization and attention to detail of the body as a whole. Procedures and protocol are followed strictly which gives everyone a chance to participate freely.
Second, those who work in state government supporting the legislature are outstanding and very knowledgeable in their subject area, and always willing to help.
Third, elections really, really matter. The majority party, in our case Democrats, control all aspects of what we do. Minority parties are playing defense the whole way, that’s just the way it is.
Fourth, it really is true that the ‘Devil is in the details’. Every word matters when reviewing bills, it can be an exhausting process reading and getting information about a bill but critical to making the right call on a vote.
And fifth, and lastly, we MUST meet in person to be fully considered legislators! Meeting via Zoom was necessary and worked but all us new folks were told almost daily how much we are missing due to the lack of physical presence in the statehouse. To sit in front of a computer screen and to try and make correct decisions that affect the state is very difficult.
During my campaign leading up to the 2020 election I made the size, scope, and cost of state government the most important issue facing the state. Everything the state legislature does ultimately comes back to the question- what do we want or expect our state government to do? During our just ended session I tried to vote with that in mind. It wasn’t always easy as there are good things in almost every bill. Expansion of our state government is so easy to do with federal dollars flowing in due to COVID relief. I remain very concerned that 2-4 years from now we will have created systems and programs with federal dollars that will have to be continued and maintained with State funds.
In 1969 as a 17 year old kid entering the United States Military Academy at West Point, I bought into the school’s motto of “Duty, Honor, Country”. I have tried to live my life with those three words as a guidepost.. My votes try to reflect those words. Unfortunately that has resulted in me voting “no” to more bills than probably everyone in the House. It’s not always fun being the Lone Ranger. It takes courage to stand up in the storm, to vote opposite of most, even when you know you’re right. Maybe that’s the ‘new trick’ I have learned.