MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — In an era of mud-slinging and name calling in national politics, a duet performed by rival candidates for the Vermont legislature is resonating with voters far beyond a village library where they performed.
Lucy Rogers, a Democrat running for the Vermont House in rural Lamoille County, came up with the idea to perform with her Republican competitor Zac Mayo after a recent debate “as a nice way to end on a positive note.” The 23-year-old cellist had learned through talking with Mayo during the primary election he was also a musician. She emailed him two weeks before the Oct. 10 forum and he agreed. They practiced for about two hours and then sang and played the song “Society” for the debate goers at a local library.
“Society, have mercy on me, I hope you’re not angry if I disagree. Society, crazy and deep, I hope you’re not lonely without me,” they crooned.
Rogers said she had been thinking about the open-minded and respectful communities they come from that encompass the towns of Waterville, which has 706 residents, and Cambridge, which has a population of 3,600.
She “wanted to do something in that spirit,” she said, but never thought their performance would be seen by people across the country.
Their duet resonated with people at a much deeper level, Mayo said.
“It’s commenting on the times. I mean we’re filled with all of this anger and divisiveness throughout whatever we’re watching, whatever we’re reading and it’s everywhere. And I think a lot of people are tired of it,” he said. What they were saying through their performance, he said, was that they — those Vermont communities — don’t feel that way.
“We know each other. We’re family, we’re friends,” he said.
Not everybody is hard right or hard left politically, some are in the middle, he added. “And it’s frustrating that most people are talking in a way that doesn’t represent them completely. It’s filled with that anger. And most of us are just tired of it. We want anything that will make more sense. We want people to represent the people not their parties and somewhere along the way it got flipped around,” Mayo said.
Middlebury College political science professor emeritus Eric Davis said the performance shows personal contact still makes a big difference in who wins in a legislature with small districts where “campaigning is door-to-door and face-to-face rather than on media, whether traditional or social media,” he said.
“I think it’s symbolic of the more congenial style politics in Vermont than we find nationally,” he added.