BURLINGTON, Vt. — Frederick J. Bailey is a conservative man. Fresh out of college, he volunteered for Ronald Reagan in 1980 and became an avid reader of the National Review. When he went to work as a stockbroker at Merrill Lynch, his goal was “to prosper.”
And so when the baby-faced Bailey became a member of the Burlington Board of Aldermen at age 28, he was stunned to find himself sitting across from socialist Mayor Bernie Sanders. Like many conservatives in town, Bailey had dismissed Sanders as a “kook” when he became mayor in 1981 and presumed he would not last long.
But here it was four years later and Bernie, as everyone called him, was still there, sitting under his beloved portrait of Socialist Eugene Debs in City Hall.
Bailey, a banker’s son, disagreed with some of what the wild-haired mayor said, but on the bigger issues, like keeping property taxes down, they saw eye to eye. To the fury of his Republican colleagues, Bailey began to vote with the mayor.