Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Vermont needs to elect more women

On Tuesday night, 10 minutes before the polls closed, I ran into the polling station in Middlebury with two forms of address, my license and my passport. I had moved since the last election and it took me eight minutes to register to vote and then vote. Vermont same-day registration is a beautiful thing.
My vote was for Elizabeth Warren. In a state that was always going to go for Bernie, I voted because she deserved my vote. She deserved a lot more votes than she received. Everyone has an issue with candidates that aren’t their preferred choice, but objectively you can step back and see that Elizabeth Warren never received the support she should have from voters. After all, there were two men of advanced age, and we will always support them first. Even when I voted for her on Tuesday, I knew she would be giving up soon. Thursday I watched her conceding remarks given from her Massachusetts driveway.
I am a progressive and I am a Democrat, but I have a major problem with the Democratic party not seeing women as viable candidates. Vermont, despite being seen by some as a “progressive paradise” is among the worst offenders. Madeline Kunin (Governor from 1985-1991) has been our only female Governor and we have never sent a woman to Congress. Now, I like Peter Welch (who has been in office for 13 years) Patrick Leahy (who has been in office since 1975) and Bernie Sanders (who has been in Congress as either a member of the House or a Senator since I was one year old).
I like all of these leaders, I like what they represent and the job they do for us, but these are all white men of advanced age and they will be in their jobs until they retire. They are very comfortable in their roles. It is extremely unlikely we will vote them out. Vermont has become increasingly disappointing to me in the accepting a lack of women in politics. Where are the young women? Where are the women who understand how difficult it is to afford daycare in this state? How the lack of job opportunities hurts your ability to advance in your career? As a Millennial, I know that my 100k-plus in student loans mean it will be years before I can afford to buy a house in Vermont. Our healthcare needs improving. Young women are on the frontlines of family life in Vermont and where are we represented in our state government? Nowhere.
Vermont needs to attract young people and young families to the state. Why do we expect that they will see themselves here? We have vibrant youth in this state who have started the exciting brewery culture in Vermont, we have an incredible arts and music scene and loads of adults under 40 who are very active in their local communities, but there is a ceiling in Vermont. It’s made of Vermont marble and you must be a 60-year-old male to break through.
I’m 29 years old. I am a policy analyst specializing in current education legislation, I have an advanced degree in International Relations, I am a Middlebury resident, and I know that the likelihood of me getting anywhere in Vermont politics would be slim to none. I have seen women try and fail time and again. For President. For Governor. For Congress. I want more from my leadership. I love my state and I know we can do better. When the time comes that either Leahy, Sanders, or Welch leave office, I hope that a young woman will take their spot. It’s time our leadership reflected who we are as Vermonters.
Alexis Caswell
Middlebury

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