by Cathy Resmer
OK, we're going to try something here at 802 Online. PoliticsVT — which tech-savvy Vermont politicos will know as an anonymously written blog about Vermont politics — has posted a Q&A with Zephyr Teachout regarding her political aspirations. Far as I know, it's the first time they've ever interviewed somebody directly, on the record.
Zephyr emailed PVT her answers, and cc'd me. She asked if I would cross post the interview here, so that readers would know she really did answer their questions. I guess she feels a little squeamish about the anonymity factor — though I have to say, I'm encouraged that they have a new "Communications Director" who is reachable via email. The PoliticsVT people have linked the post here, too. So 802 is serving as some kind of authenticator.
I'm reprinting ZT's answers here because it seems like a useful service that I can provide (though we'll have to think of a better way for me to provide it in the future without taking up so much space on my homepage). I'm also doing it as a way of encouraging bloggers to interview public figures. As local news coverage declines on TV and in the newspapers, bloggers can help fill that void. That's why I've been linking to all these Vermont blogs, helping to build the Vermont blogosphere. It's still a long way off, but I think it's an idea that's got potential.
So here's the Q&A between the Capitol Bureau of PoliticsVT and Zephyr Teachout :
Q: What do you think of Peter Shumlin and Peter Welch?
A: I think very highly of both the Peters.
I've known Peter Welch since I was young, and I've met Peter Shumlin a few times, and I think both of them would do a good job as Congressmen.
Q: Also, why are you considering running for the US House?
A: I want to live in world where all people are closer to political power — and closer to economic power, too. Congress is one way to move us closer to that world.
I believe we can change the way we do politics, the way we practice economics, the way we think about — and value —community.
I'd like to get into the guts of our system and get to work transforming it, with as many Vermonters along as possible. One way to start the transformation is in the election — thinking about the election not just as a way to get people elected, but as a way to
learn from people, open up the flood to new ideas and new solutions. I've been thinking about ways the race could make the candidate a conduit of the ideas of Vermonters — instead of a platform with a face that she has to sell.
That said, most considerations are practical. The first things most politicos will ask you when you talk to them about running for Congress is "how many people you know who can donate between $1,000 and $2,000 to you," and "how much 'points' on TV cost in the state."
I've got a fundraising background (I've started two nonprofits) and I don't scare easily, but its not a trivial task. I'm honestly assessing the options. The Peters will probably have good contacts with the in-state people who can give $1000 or more — they've been in politics
for over half a century combined, and made lots of good connections. Which means that I'd rely on much smaller donations, and never have near their money.
It may be doable. No one who is running has high name recognition. In a recent poll, I think less than 10% of Vermonters had opinions, positive or negative, about either Peter. If I run, I don't want to run a campaign based on TV — I want to run a true grassroots campaign, where volunteers are given real power, not just stamplicking jobs.
We've got a long tradition of independent thinking and irreverent, engaged politics. I'm not sure we couldn't have a little fun in this primary, and, in the process, gets thousands of more people involved in solving the real puzzles we face as a country and world: How do we want to live? How do we want our communities to look? How do we best imagine our collective future? What are we willing to sacrifice to get there?
Q: What are your strengths and weaknesses, and why are you a better candidate than your two possible Democratic opponents?
A: I'm young and open and deeply, deeply want to improve the world, and I'm pretty good at practically achieving things I try my hand at. I'm not afraid to put myself on the line for things I believe in. Both other candidates have much more political experience.
Beyond that, I would leave it up to other people to decide.
But only after I decide myself, which is going to be a few months.
In the meantime, I'd love to hear what people hope the issues in this race focus on. Email me personally (zteachout at gmail dot com) or comment directly — and thanks for your thoughts.
Cathy again: Visit Friday Coffeeblogging for extended audio of Zephyr discussing violent video games, copyright law and teen flicks of the 1980s (ok, she was mostly listening to other people talk about War Games, etc.).