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By Mark Anderson

Peter Garritano, one of at least 10 Vermonters running independently for state office this year on a secessionist basis, says the United States has become an empire so cruel and indifferent to the American people and their Constitution, and so brutal in its foreign policy, that there is little value in avoiding the question of secession any longer.

On Jan. 15—Vermont Independence Day—these candidates appeared at a “town hall meeting” in the capital city, Montpelier. They announced their candidacies, which have no party affiliation. Besides local media, a freelancer for Time magazine, showed considerable interest and is writing a book on secession.

While the general turnout at the hall was good, most of the questions came from these reporters. Many wondered how realistic this secession idea—the process of a state leaving the United States and becoming its own country—actually is in the context of modern politics, with some asking what happens if only one or two of the secession candidates get elected.

Garritano, 54, a lieutenant governor candidate from Shelburne, told AMERICAN FREE PRESS that the state’s election rules do not require him and secessionist-minded gubernatorial candidate Dennis Steele to run as a team—meaning that either one could be elected separately, or they could both get elected, depending on how economically wounded voters take to their philosophy of refocusing the state-federal relationship with a strong emphasis on the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

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While there is the occasional heated comment that secession would “recreate the Confederacy and black slavery,” Garritano said secession in today’s world is a totally different ball game. With so many people of all colors and creeds taking hard hits from extreme economic mismanagement of the nation, the use of the Constitution as a floor mat, and President Obama reneging on nearly every major campaign promise, many from across the political spectrum find themselves intrigued with the secession concept.

As Garritano sees it: “Half the people running on our ticket had voted for Obama and they are now so frustrated and realize it’s just more of the same. . . . There has been no change, and he has stepped up the pace on all of Bush’s policies,” Garritano told AFP. “And that is the reason they are involved in this now.”

Obama did not overturn either the Military Commissions Act or the Patriot Act, to name just two acts that smack of tyranny, after indicating he would.

“All the things that people wanted him to change . . . he has struck out on all those issues,” Garritano added. He also said honoring the 10th Amendment consistently would be a major improvement by itself, and perhaps would represent “baby steps” toward secession. Yet, Garritano is not obsessed with secession nor is he indifferent toward practical state issues. And while winning seats in the state government seems like a

stretch, he and the others see their effort as more than symbolic.

The local car dealer said that, precisely because education is so important, it should be strictly a state and local matter, adding that if he has anything to say about it, Vermont would refuse federal money for education and everything else. If you don’t take the king’s nickel, you don’t get the noose, he figures.

That would include preserving the home-schooling option while casting aside the federal education act best known as No Child Left Behind (now called Race to the Top, under Obama) and other federal meddling, so Vermont citizens could get on with life without Washington in control.

Furthermore, raw (unpasteurized) milk, available in Vermont and New Hampshire, among other places, could be sold retail on a level playing field with all other dairy products, so the path from farm to refrigerator does not include the risk of fines and arrest by overzealous state health officials, who, as AFP has learned, too often protect big dairy interests and keep the healthy option of raw milk away from a sizable number of consumers. Notably, this dairy protection racket is especially prevalent in California and Pennsylvania. Also, Michigan has been heavy-handed toward raw milk, especially its distribution.

Garritano likes North Dakota’s operation of its own state bank to help town banks put the state and its people first, to re-grow jobs lost by NAFTA and other causes, and to try and detach from Wall Street predators.

Garritano, a first-time candidate, admits that getting far with the secession concept right out of the starting gate will be tough. But beyond himself and Steele, the eight secession candidates seeking state Senate seats in Vermont could make quite an impact if public sentiment swings their way and the media treat them as more than a passing curiosity.

Since the state Senate only has 30 seats and has more power than the more populous state House, then a few new senators armed with this idea could at the very least put the state on a much bolder 10th Amendment path (which is happening in Oklahoma even without much talk of secession).

Garritano knows the mere mention of secession is touchy. But more people seem willing to discuss it. He said that trend illustrates just how bad things have become in the United States, such as in Detroit—the once-great Motor City—which is crumbling, and in Flint, Michigan, which is becoming a ghost town in too many neighborhoods.

If there could be a sizable secessionist-minded presence in the Vermont Senate and in the governor’s office, there is no telling what could happen.

Mark Anderson is a longtime newsman now working as a corresponding editor for American Free Press. Together he and his wife Angie provide many photographs of the events they cover for AFP. Mark welcomes your comments and inputs as well as story leads. Email him at at [email protected].

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(Issue # 5, February 1, 2010)

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