The truth is, Washington is a very strange world. Before this campaign, I would always go home to Vermont on weekends. That's where we did town meetings, that's where I was with my family. And I would find when I would come back to Washington, I would suddenly feel myself a little bit depressed. It was the transition of coming from Vermont back to D.C.
There is a style here, a way of life here in D.C., which is significantly phony. In that everybody is nice to each other — "Oh, my good and honorable friend" — and then they're spending $18 million to try to destroy who you are. That's the nature of it. And you've got staffers who butter up their bosses and everything else. There is a very high level of phonyism and careerism. And you go back to Vermont — and I see it in Iowa and you see it all over the country — where people are people. That's all. And when you go home, you settle into a way of life where people are people.
Entries in vermont (4)
One of the fun aspects of being a congressman is the different kinds of people that I meet. After we left Glover, Levi and I took a beautiful drive across the width of the state to Swanton, which is located in northwest Vermont, just south of the Canadian border. I often think how lucky I am not only to live in Vermont, but to campaign there. Driving along beautiful Vermont country roads in August, as the sun goes down, just ain't hard work. It's exactly the kind of thing I would do if I never ran for office. In the back of the car I always have a bathing suit, and it's not uncommon for us to stop midday on the campaign trail and jump into a nearby lake or river.
Have a new story up this evening. It's about Bernie Sanders. Here, from a 1972 issue of Movement, a Liberty Union Party newsletter Sanders edited, is something he wrote that I didn't use in full:
And so it goes on and on and on. There's not much new to be said. Everybody knows what's happening — who wants to know. A handful of people own almost everything ... and almost everybody owns nothing. A handful of people make the decisions and the vast majority of people have virtually no control over their lives.
A man in Springfield, Vermont, works at a plant for 30 years — and one day the plant closes down, and the man is old — and now he's on welfare. Nobody asked him whether the plant should close or not. Why should they? He's just a worker who worked in a plant that has a margin of profit which is no longer acceptable to the owner.
A black kid in Detroit has no place to go. He's got no money, school is taking him nowhere, and there are no jobs to be had. There is no future. It doesn't matter anymore. So he joins his friends on heroin and becomes one of the tens of thousands of black kids in that city who are killing themselves. To stay alive, and to suport his habit, he robs and mugs his neighbors who are trying to keep themselves (barely) alive. Around and around it goes. The victim of the system, out of desperation, turns on the other victims of the system — while the real criminals, those who own and control the whole show and are responsible for the situation, get off scot free. And then we sit down and watch T.V. and hear the politicians, who are responsible for the horror, talk about the 'problem' of crime in the streets — like they weren't responsible for it. All of which sounds like the slave owner who whips his slave and talks about the 'problem' of the cuts and bruises on the slave's back.
1. "Not to say every moment is contributing to a book or a poem, but you can't know in advance what will. Don't prejudge your stimuli. Just trust where your attention goes."
2. "I used to be approached in classes by women who felt they shouldn't have children because children were too distracting, or would eat up the vital energies from which art comes. But you have to live your life if you're going to do original work. Your work will come out of an authentic life, and if you suppress all of your most passionate impulses in the service of an art that has not yet declared itself, you're making a terrible mistake. When I was young I led the life I thought writers were supposed to lead, in which you repudiate the world, ostentatiously consecrating all of your energies to the task of making art. I just sat in Provincetown at a desk and it was ghastly — the more I sat there not writing the more I thought that I just hadn't given up the world enough. After two years of that, I came to the concluision that I wasn't going to be a writer. So I took a teaching job in Vermont, though I had spent my life till that point thinking that real poets don't teach. But I took this job, and the minute I started teaching — the minute I had obligations in the world — I started to write again."
3. "Daily life. It's what we have. I believe in the world. I trust it to provide me."