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Adrian: Fort Golden Dome

Spock, the late Leonard Nimoy’s character on Star Trek, once famously stated that “change is the essential process of all existence” – meaning that a society resistant to change, will eventually wither away.

Yet, we Vermonters cling fiercely to our traditions either because we were born into them or specifically came here to seek them out. Town Meeting, sugaring, Bennington Battle Day, deer season, chicken pie suppers and many other traditions contribute to the Vermont identity, bring us closer together, provide continuity to a bygone era and insulate us from what we perceive as the way of the world outside our borders.

On January 8th the Vermont Statehouse, the People’s House, the Golden Dome, was invaded by protesters demanding that Governor Shumlin reinstate his failed quest to create a system of universal health care. It was a true act of over-the-top civil disobedience. The Governor’s Inauguration and the benediction of a clergyman were severely disrupted and news of the protest dominated social media as events unfolded. 29 protestors were given criminal citations to appear in court.

We’re lucky to live in a society where we enjoy so many civil liberties and freedoms. But with great freedom, comes great responsibility and just because we can embark on a course of action, doesn’t necessarily mean that we should. The protestors made their point, pushed their point, then overstayed their welcome and their point was lost.

In the wake of the protest there’s been serious discussion about the implementation of new security measures under the Golden Dome. The long time Sargent-At-Arms was sacked and replaced. The institution that’s always been open to all of the people, all of the time, without any obvious check s or security measures, may soon become a fort, locked down like nearly every other courthouse, airport and government building in the rest of the country.

If the intent of the protest was to shine a light on the failed promise of government to deliver what nearly every other industrialized nation has, it temporarily succeeded. But its lasting legacy may instead be an atmosphere where the Vermont legislature, the government for the people, becomes just a little bit less accessible by the people.

Again I’m reminded of a quote from a fictional character – in which Harry Potter’s Professor Umbridge warns that “progress for progress's sake must be discouraged, for our tried and tested traditions often require no tinkering.” And in this case, we may have taken one step closer to universal homogeneity.

Ed Adrian is an attorney at the law firm Monaghan Safar Ducham PLLC. He previously served on the Burlington City Council for five years and currently sits on the Burlington Library Commission.
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