Civility: Is it Too Much to Ask? Not in Vermont

By Vermont Chamber President Betsy Bishop

The contrast between Vermont and Washington, D.C., politics has never been more pronounced than it was last week. In Vermont, we ushered in a new legislative session with a trio of women leaders with new ideas, energy, and a profound sense of serving the State of Vermont to develop thoughtful, balanced public policy. Lt. Governor Molly Gray, Speaker of the House Jill Krowinski, and President Pro Tem Becca Balint begin this unusual, COVID-marked session with a pledge to work with Governor Phil Scott and his Administration to get Vermont’s economy on a path to recovery. While these leaders are from different parties, the spirit of cooperation and willingness to collaborate has always been present under the Golden Dome in Montpelier. 

What we witnessed last Wednesday in our nation’s capital was not only the total opposite, but it was also an attempt to subvert our core democratic principles. While I’m hopeful that President-elect Biden can unite us, it will take strong will to heed that call. I am grateful that I live in Vermont and work in the Vermont State House, and this year, while I will miss walking through the corridors among inspiring artwork, the Hall of Inscriptions, and the Cedar Creek Room, I will still be fortunate to work on public policy with many people who share the same values. 

These are elected officials, appointed members of the Administration, and advocates for diverse interests who believe in the rule of law, the deliberate process, and the consideration of differing perspectives, with the goal of finding common ground for the betterment of Vermont. I feel privileged to work with these people, and while we no doubt will have disagreements in policy, civility and respect is a shared belief.