Is it Bush? Is it Kerry? Does it matter? Thomas Naylor doesn't think so. The Charlotte resident, an author and professor emeritus of economics at Duke University, heads a group of 100 plucky secessionists who call themselves "The Second Vermont Republic." He says that, no matter who wins the presidential election (this paper went to press without knowing the results), the country's broken and it ain't worth saving. "We believe this country is unsustainable, unfixable, ungovernable," Naylor says. "We want to revert back to 1777-1791, when Vermont was an independent republic."
To that end, the organization is sponsoring a post-election conference at the Middlebury Inn, November 5-7, called "After the Fall of America -- Then What?" Speakers include University of Vermont political science professor Frank Bryan, Emory University philosophy professor Donald Livingston, and Kirkpatrick Sale, a writer and contributing editor at The Nation.
The event is co-sponsored by The Fourth World Review, an English publication that advocates for smaller shops, smaller farms and smaller nations. The journal's 83-year-old founder and editor is making the trip to Middlebury for the event. So are another 40 registered participants from as far as Kansas, Florida and Virginia.
Naylor says that for $80, attendees can sit in on panel discussions about why the country has failed and how a group of citizens could form a new one. Saturday's sessions will be followed by a mock town meeting, open to the public, featuring actors playing Ethan Allen and Thomas Jefferson. Topics for discussion include declaring January 15, 1777, Vermont Independence Day, and resolving to return Vermont to its status as an independent republic.
Frankly, Naylor would prefer that the Green Mountain State not go it alone. "My fantasy is that I'd like to see us team up with New Hampshire, Maine and the Maritime Provinces to create a little country the size of Denmark," he says.
Disgruntled supporters of any or all presidential candidates can still sign up for the conference; visit http://www.vermontrepublic.org to find out how.