Smooth jazz tunes bounce off the rustic wooden walls of Muddy Waters Coffeehouse, making this downtown Burlington chill spot an even more inviting refuge from the cold and overcast Friday morning. As we talk at a table by the window, Dave leaps from his chair mid-sentence to open the door for a farmer burdened with two tremendous sacks of carrots. He sits back down with a smile.
Dave, a farmer himself, is running alongside Rep. Chris Pearson against challenger Kesha Ram in an election that liberal blogger John Odum of the Green Mountain Daily describes as "culturally/socially speaking...the most fascinating race in Vermont this year."
Both Dave and Chris bristle at the suggestion that their time in the State House should make them casualties of the national mood — frustration with government inaction. Instead, both men cast themselves as the original gangsters of change. Their comments to me are reminiscent of when Dr. Dre and Eminem reminded a forgetful public of who really started the 90's rap explosion in "Forgot about Dre." But instead of railing, "I was strapped with gats when you were cuddlin' with the Cabbage Patch," Dave and Chris (who graduated UVM when this year's senior class was about eight years-old) replace the former with "I was an agent of change when you were..."
They wasted no time in explaining their frustration with the Republicans and the Democrats in the State House, and their inability to promote anything beyond the party line. "Our role," says Dave, "is to be a much more activist caucus. And I think the Republicans have turned that into a bad word, and the Democrats are afraid of that word."
It should be noted that Ms. Ram is running as a Democrat, and although I pressed both Chris and Dave as well as Kesha to espouse policy differences between the two tickets, I got non-answers on both sides. It's clear that this election is not a debate on policy.
So what does any of this mean for us college students?