Campaign trail is a study of social fabric
by Mike Eldred
May 20, 2010 | 1849 views | 1 1 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WILMINGTON- After nearly eight months on the campaign trail, local resident and Democratic candidate for US Senate Daniel Frielich says it’s one of the most satisfying things he has done in his life.

“It’s almost a study in our social fabric,” he says. “How often in life do you have the opportunity to meet 50 or more people every day?”

Freilich’s primary challenge of incumbent Senator Patrick Leahy began in October. Since then, he’s visited more than half of the state’s 251 towns, handed out more than 10,000 pamphlets, and met thousands of Vermonters – really met them, Freilich says. “I never do the politician thing, where you’re shaking one hand and looking for the next hand to shake,” he says. “Sometimes I’ll talk with people for 45 minutes. When you talk to people they open up to you and talk about their issues.”

The top issue with residents around the state, Freilich says, is their frustration with the gridlock in Congress. “People are sick and tired of politics as usual. Even the word ‘politician’ elicits a smirk from people.”

Freilich says his campaign’s message of fair play and ethical politics resonates with Vermonters, but he also notes that some say, with a smile, that it’s a “quaint and old-fashioned” notion.

It may come as no surprise that the economy also ranks high among concerns of Vermont voters. But Freilich says Vermonters are savvy about economic issues. “People are incredibly mature about it. They’re not looking for quick fixes or earmarks. They want to know how the system is going to get fixed.”

The Vermont college students he has met on the campaign trail are “in despair,” Freilich says. “They’re not sure where to go, they don’t trust the economy, and they know they’re going to be working in service jobs despite their investment in a college degree,” he says. “They feel an inability to effect change. Older people are more optimistic. That’s been one of the surprises for me.”

Freilich says he has also found a deep anger among Vermonters over the issue of welfare. He proposes a new system that provides incentives for welfare recipients to raise themselves out of their need for public aid. “The (current) system is not helpful,” he says. “People on public aid can’t work more or they get cut off completely. The problem is, in the short term, it’s easier to write a check for someone, but it does nothing to get people thriving again.”

Conversely, however, Freilich says there’s little anger among Vermonters over corporate welfare. “I think there’s so little overt wealth in this state in comparison to other states. People are more concerned with what’s down the street; you see people not working and that’s what you get angry about.”

Health care has remained a top national issue for nearly two decades, and Freilich, a physician and naval officer, supports a national single-payer plan. He says Vermonters are receptive to the idea – even those in the state’s traditionally Republican counties. “When people hear someone explaining the financial benefits, they find it incredible that the nation never had the discussion,” he says. “Sure, government is inefficient 99% of the time, but there is an exception to the rule, and single-payer would probably save about $400 billion to $600 billion per year. People are receptive to that.”

The campaign tour has also brought the challenges faced by Vermonters into sharp focus for Freilich. “There’s an incredible amount of unnecessary pain out there,” he says. “There are a lot of sad moments when people are telling you about the pain they, or someone in their family, are experiencing. There’s not one day when you don’t have a little bit of a wet eye from hearing people’s stories.”

This year, Vermont’s gubernatorial primary will be held on Tuesday, August 24, about two weeks earlier than it has been held in the past. A related change requires independent candidates to file petitions before the primary. The change was intended to keep party candidates from running as an independent in the event they lose the primary. Freilich says the change, enacted during the campaign season, is unfair. He’s circulating a petition to run as an independent, he says, to keep his options open. “I really haven’t decided whether I will continue to campaign after the primary.”
Comments-icon Post a Comment
thomas veto
May 20, 2010
I truly admire your desire to make the people's needs known and appreciate your campaign vigor - meeting all those people in sincere belief that you can change the situations in the state is admirable; but it is not real there is no way you are going to beat Leahy so my hope is that you have another (alternative) plan to offer your services to the people of Vermont.

Example: a young man from Readsboro who signed up for the Job Corp. in Burlington and is to begin college in September(after one yr. with the Job Corp) and after obtaining his GED and passing SATs with high marks told me personally that the majority of those in the VT Job Corp. are from many other states especially from the Southern states (dropped off and left by parents as a last resort) The Job Corp.officials are encouraging the present recruits to go back home and encourage vermont youth to sign up. We know there are several of our youth who could benefit from the value of this type of education and placement. Vocational training is their goal but college is also an option ( often with complete scholarships).

Option Two: (please bear with me) There is a new education ciriculum in the state which is trying to get a foot-hold . Agriculture Education in High School. It emphasizes the business aspect and the importance of the students who sign up to continue in the farming trades as one of the most important businesses/industries in our state.


Comment Policy

In an effort to promote reasoned discussion, transparency, and integrity in online commenting, The Deerfield Valley News requires anyone posting comments to identify themselves using their real name. Anonymous commenting will not be allowed. All comments will be subject to approval before posting, and may take up to 24 hours for approval to be granted.

We encourage civil discourse among readers, and ask that they be willing to stand behind their identities and their comments. No personal harassment or hate speech will be tolerated. Please be succinct and to the point. For longer comments, please consider submitting a letter to the editor instead. It will appear in both the print and online editions.

All comments will be reviewed, and we reserve the right to reject, edit or remove any comment for any reason. For questions or to express concerns feel free to contact our office at (802) 464-3388.