Charles Kuralt's America for October in Woodstock, Vermont:
It was on the one day in Vermont when the town carpenter lays aside his tools, the town doctor sees no patients, the shopkeeper closes his shop, and mothers tell their children that they'll have to warm up their own dinners. It was the day the people of Vermont look no to their own welfare, but to that of their towns: Town Meeting Day.
What happens at the town meeting is not representative democracy. It is pure democracy. Every citizen may have his or her say on every question. And many voices were heard that day in Strafford. For an hour, for example, they debated the question of whether to go on paying $582 a month for outside health services deemed unsatisfactory by a farmer named Brown. When the moderator, rail fence maker James Condict, couldn't tell how the voice vote had gone, he said, "I'm going to ask for a standing vote. All those in favor . . ." And here it came, the Yankee expression that originated in the town meeting and has entered into the language of free people: ". . . stand up and be counted."
This is the way the founders of this country imagined democracy would be: citizens meeting in their own communities to decide directly on most of the questions affecting their lives and fortunes. This is the way Vermont still does it. And all voters must take an old oath: always vote their conscience, without fear or favor of any person.
Tags: Charles Kuralt, America