For decades there has been tension between Democrats and Progressives in Vermont, and Thursday night, members of both parties sat down to talk about the conflicts that sometimes are detrimental to their shared interests.
Both sides actually took some offense to the idea that they can't get along, pointing out they often do cooperate in Montpelier. Both sides also pointed out that as separate parties they really should be expected to get along. What separates them is their idea of how to get things done and that's where the tension comes in.
There were no punches thrown, no major insults hurled, and hardly any hints of disagreement as Democrats and Progressives answered a series of questions presented by moderator Shay Totten.
"I think the main difference between the Progressives and the Democrats is the Progressives have a much narrower viewpoint whereas the Democrats have a broader viewpoint, a broader spectrum both with the issues and of viewpoints," said Jake Perkinson, Chair of the Burlington Democratic Committee.
That notion, both sides repeatedly pointed out, is really their only difference. Progressives say they exist to fight for the most liberal of ideals even when the Democrats, with their more inclusive platform, move more toward center.
"We shouldn't always get along because sometimes when those policies veer from that with the Democratic majority it's important we don't get along and that we express those views that many in the public hold," said Rep. David Zuckerman, P-Burlington.
The reality is that Democrats and Progressives DO get along about 99 percent of the time, at least in Montpelier. In Burlington it's a slightly different story.
"We in Burlington love to play politics," said Rep. Johanna Leddy Donovan, D-Burlington. "We love to get in, we love to do battle, and so there's a dynamic here that doesn't exist any place else."
There's also a different balance of power in Burlington, where the Progressives hold the Mayor's seat and sometimes align themselves with Republicans and Independents on the city council to outnumber the Democrats. Many Burlington Democrats also still hold a grudge about the 1981 election when Bernie Sanders and the Progressive party took power.
Election cycles always seem to bring out the tension between the parties. That tension was enhanced this year by Anthony Pollina's presence in the governor's race and newcomer Democratic Representative Kesha Ram's defeat of Progressive Representative Chris Pearson.
The question of, "Why does it even matter if the two parties get along?" can best be answered by races like the one between Anthony Pollina, Gaye Symington, and Gov. Jim Douglas. Progressive and Democratic candidates tend to attract generally the same voters. So if they run against each other they can split the vote and allow the Republican to win. If they cooperate, however, they can team up to defeat a Republican candidate.
"I do believe that until we can join hands and really sing the 'Kumbaya' there has to be a few more funerals and there have to be a few egos deflated," said Donovan.
But come January, both sides say they're ready to work together on the issues that matter.
Sunday, May 19 2013 8:39 PM EDT2013-05-20 00:39:09 GMT
"Awesome -- I lost it when I finished I have to say, but it was great. It was great," said Amy Sullivan. The 2013 Boston Marathon runner was all smiles as she and 450 other runners crossed the finishMore >>
A race in southern Vermont Sunday gave runners who were unable to finish the Boston Marathon a second chance at the finish line.More >>
Sunday, May 19 2013 8:38 PM EDT2013-05-20 00:38:13 GMT
They come from all over the state and wait in line for hours. "It's become sort of a yearly event for us. We've been doing it for eight or nine years now -- we're having a blast," said Ed Sayers ofMore >>
Dozens of drivers gathered in Chelsea for a record setting road rally -- full of riddles that keep drivers and passengers on their toes.More >>
Sunday, May 19 2013 8:36 PM EDT2013-05-20 00:36:52 GMT
College graduation season is in full swing -- and Sunday in Burlington it was a big one. A crowd of nearly 10,000 attended the 211th commencement ceremony at the University of Vermont.In all, more thanMore >>
A crowd of nearly 10,000 attended the 211th commencement ceremony at the University of Vermont.More >>
Sunday, May 19 2013 8:28 PM EDT2013-05-20 00:28:28 GMT
Fire destroyed a barn in Clinton County, New York Sunday morning.It happened in the town of Mooers. Officials say the barn on Eddy Road was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived just before 11:30More >>
Officials say the barn on Eddy Road was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived just before 11:30 a.m.More >>
Sunday, May 19 2013 8:27 PM EDT2013-05-20 00:27:13 GMT
A Berlin, New Hampshire man is dead following a kayaking accident.It happened on a stretch of the Upper Ammonoosuc River in the town of Dummer. Officials say Keith Whitten, 58, was paddling with his wifeMore >>
A Berlin, New Hampshire man is dead following a kayaking accident.More >>
Sunday, May 19 2013 8:26 PM EDT2013-05-20 00:26:39 GMT
Woodchuck Hard Cider is taking legal action to protect its furry mascot.Last week the Middlebury company filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against South Burlington-based Woodchuck Coffee RoastersMore >>
Woodchuck Hard Cider is taking legal action to protect its furry mascot.More >>
Sunday, May 19 2013 8:17 PM EDT2013-05-20 00:17:27 GMT
Vermont State Police have charged 22-year-old Adam Page of Newport for stealing the Newport City Elementary School bus, which has now been declared totaled. A stolen dog was also recovered in the busMore >>
State Police say he is also being charged with the theft of two other vehicles and a woman's dog.More >>