The Nation magazine’s Progressive Honor Roll of 2012 includes two Vermonters. Sen. Bernie Sanders is the “most valuable progressive.” Gov. Peter Shumlin is the “most valuable governor.”
Most Valuable Progressive: Bernie Sanders The first senator whose re-election was announced on November 6 wasn’t a Democrat or a Republican; it was independent progressive Bernie Sanders from Vermont. And cheers went up in union halls and campaign offices across the country. Why? Because though he remains intensely focused on the concerns of Vermonters and the fights in the Senate, Sanders has broken the boundaries of conventional politics. By refusing to bend to the compromises and spin of Washington, he has made himself the conscience of the fiscal cliff fight. That’s to be expected. In every austerity debate, Sanders has been resolute, championing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; defending the Postal Service against privatization threats; and opposing media consolidation schemes—whether they’re proposed by reactionary Republicans or disappointing Democrats.
Most Valuable Governor: Peter Shumlin When congressional Democrats needed an example of a Democratic governor who was the antithesis of Wisconsin’s right-wing, anti-labor firebrand Scott Walker, they picked Vermont’s easygoing Peter Shumlin, who told the House Oversight Committee, “What is puzzling to me about the current debate about state budgets is that the focus has been not on bringing people together to solve common problems, like we have done in Vermont, but on division and blame. I do not believe that those to blame for our current financial troubles are our law enforcement officers, firefighters and other state employees whose services we take for granted.” Not many governors talk like that—or mean it. Even fewer take on the challenges of state budgeting in realistic ways. Shumlin has, including as a champion of single-payer healthcare reform. Senator Sanders hails the state’s Medicare for All push as a national model. Shumlin, recently re-elected with 58 percent of the vote, will keep up that pressure in his new role as chair of the Democratic Governors Association.