Editorial: Of chaos and lessons learned
From this desk, it’s difficult to separate the year 2020 from the Trump-inflicted chaos that consumed the country. But as our 9-page retrospective in this issue depicts, life was racing along full-tilt on many other fronts.
During a competitive Democratic presidential primary at the start of 2020, Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders poised a serious challenge to former Vice-President Joe Biden. By the end of March, however, Biden was showing national strength in the South and the coronavirus began dominating the news and life in America — as it would for the rest of the year.
In Addison County, and in Vermont, COVID-19 dominated all news by mid-March. How dangerous was it? How fast would it spread? How do you get it, and how do you avoid it? What protocols should be put in place? What’s too much or too little? What’s the story on testing and testing supplies? In lieu of a national policy, will state-by-state policies be adequate? As the death toll mounted, it was clear that Trump and his administration had bungled the crisis in the worst of ways.
Vermonters were fortunate that Gov. Phil Scott managed the pandemic’s threat well, and that Vermonters rallied around his leadership and were respectful of each other’s health and safety. Through business shutdowns, school closings and learning how to work remotely Vermonters came out of that pandemic-imposed hibernation by early summer in better shape, health-wise, than almost any other state in the nation. It became another reason to be grateful to call Vermont home.
But 2020 was a year of more hardship. The summer construction season dealt an additional blow to Middlebury’s downtown when it closed Main Street and Merchants Row for 10 weeks to build the railway underpass and tunnel. Between COVID-closings and the construction, a dozen vacate storefronts would emerge once the dust had settled in late fall. By then another story of closings was grabbing headlines: the proposed closing of several county elementary schools due to proposed consolidation plans. That story will continue to dominate headlines locally as county schools and taxpayers face tough decisions in the year ahead.
While the pandemic changed daily life in America in untold ways, Biden’s defeat of Trump in the presidential election was the year’s saving grace. Even though Democrats failed to deliver down-ballot victories in the House and failed to pick up key Senate victories that could have given Democrats control of both houses of Congress, at least the promise that the nation’s leadership would deal in reality based on facts and science was assured.
While that political promise is heartening, 2020 will remain a year marked by much pain and suffering as more than 350,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, federal aid remains a lifeline to many businesses and workers, and we still have four-to-five months to go before vaccines effectively control the virus’s spread.
Were there good things in 2020? Of course. On a personal level, babies were born, couples were wed, businesses were launched, personal achievements were celebrated. We all, to the best of our abilities, persevered. Hopefully, we’ll learn lessons from that and be stronger in the years to come.
Guest editorial: Transform Ryegate, Yankee for jobs and for the climate
Here is the gist of recent recommendations to the Vermont Climate Council calling for the … (read more)
Ways of Seeing: Libraries are a place of connection
In the few months that I’ve been a volunteer at the Lawrence Memorial Library, I’ve realiz … (read more)
Jessie Raymond: I ‘May’ love this month the best
In his 1922 poem “The Waste Land,” T.S. Eliot said — if I recall correctly — “April is the … (read more)