Behind Enemy Lines in Vermont

Burlington

Burlington, VT: the scene of Saving Private Brian, coming soon to a theater near you.

Editor’s Note: The following is a semi-accurate account of a Ted Cruz for President campaign trip to Vermont. Details may have been embellished or exaggerated for comedic effect.

Thursday, October 22: Brian Chen, Chair of Dartmouth Students for Cruz, respectively, received an urgent phone call from the Christian Andzel, a New Hampshire field director for the Cruz campaign. Their efforts were requested immediately for a weekend excursion to the socialist capital of the United States – Burlington, Vermont. On the weekend of October 24, they were asked to spend hours collecting 1,000 petition signatures so that Senator Cruz could get on the ballot for the Vermont Republican presidential primary.

We were to stay in a “hotel” in Burlington while conducting our mission. The Rubio campaign was supposed to be out that weekend collecting signatures as well, but their organization faltered at the last moment and were unable to dispatch a contingent of operatives.

We would be alone, deep behind enemy lines, left with a mission that was seemingly impossible. We soldiered on.

On the morning of Saturday, October 24, a rented blue Toyota Sienna minivan that looked like it came out of the hood of New Haven pulled up to the Hop (in fact, it did have a Connecticut license plate). The minivan was packed with a diverse crowd of Cruz staffers and volunteers. Zach Carrier, New Hampshire Deputy Director for Cruz for President, was driving and DJing lots of country music. Brian, taken aback by the sketchy nature of the minivan, was initially reluctant to get in. However, he soon realized that it was the Cruz campaign, not a group of criminals. He got in and settled into the passenger seat. Josh had a similar reaction when he saw the vehicle approaching the Thayer School of Engineering. He got in, and unfortunately, had to settle for cramming himself into the middle seat of the middle row. With eight people in tow, it was road trip time.

Brian controlled navigation and set his GPS to Burlington. Entering Vermont via the Ledyard Bridge, all members of the Cruz Crew felt a noticeable change in the breathability of the air. When breathing in, the burden of taxation was noticeable in that the air was much thinner. Naturally, even the air was overtaxed in Vermont. Thanks, Bernie. At least the roads were slightly nicer than those in New Hampshire.

After passing through the drug-addled town of White River Junction, we got onto I-89 North and were well on our way to Burlington. Christian and Zach had done their homework, and Christian in particular had done reconnaissance in Vermont the day before. He warned us of the danger that was impending; it would certainly be an uphill slog. However, he determined that the best method for obtaining signatures from Trotskyites was to include a few keywords in our pitch. We were supposed to mention our promotion of the democratic process and our commitment to ensuring ballot equality in the State of Vermont. All that we wanted was for all Vermonters, regardless of their political affiliation, to have the opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice. If pressed, we were to emphasize that a petition signature was neither a vote nor an endorsement, which is true.

It was at this time that we were notified that we would not be staying at a hotel, but a LGBTQIA-friendly hostel. Curiously, though, the hostel did not have gender neutral bathrooms.

As we traversed the countryside, we saw plenty of windmills and solar panels. We even think that we saw a “solar mill,” nevermind the fact that Vermont is a terrible place for both these forms of energy. We were also taxed to death when we tried to fill up our gas guzzler. Nevertheless, we felt the global warming under our heavy coats, scarves, gloves, and hats. It was a frosty 35 degrees.

Arriving in Burlington, we had to find a place to park our Hummer among Priuses. Unfortunately, much of the street parking was removed in favor of fancy bus stops and humongous bike racks. The only option left was a socialist parking garage, owned and operated by the city of Burlington. We entered the parking lot and immediately ran into a dead end. The poorly designed parking garage, courtesy of the government, was not usable for cars considered normal-sized in freer states. Fearful that the socialists had set a trap for us Courageous Conservatives, we moved to extricate ourselves from the situation. It took us no fewer than 15 minutes to pull ourselves out of the spot at the dead end.

We decided to try the upper levels of the parking garage, only to be greeted by signs on every floor that read “left turns only” in bold letters, which makes no sense considering that left turns are far more dangerous than right turns. Again, this was yet another example of the government being the problem rather than the solution. Our predicament was also exacerbated by the fact that our car had a Cruz bumper sticker that states, “this vehicle makes right turns only.” We eventually acquiesced to the lefties’ demands and made left turns up to the fourth floor.

After we parked and got our pens and clipboards, we descended down the staircase. Of course, it smelled overwhelmingly of marijuana. We entered the Burlington Town Center Mall, one of the last refuges of capitalism in the heart of darkness. The old and dilapidated mall had many empty stores, and the “food court” consisted of a single off-brand Chinese restaurant. Even the mall’s bank, the People’s United Bank, had a socialist name. It was at this moment that we began to understand the gargantuan size of the task ahead of us.

When we exited the mall, we entered the pedestrian area on Church Street, a street name we found to be very ironic given that Vermont is the least religious state in the country. There was a farmer’s market nearby, serving up plenty of non-GMO, free-range, and organic food. Despite the touristy and hippie nature of the farmer’s market, we did manage to get one signature from a Bernie Sanders supporter who was selling vegetables. Josh thinks that we had him at the words democratic process.

In a city where it seems like every car has a Bernie Sanders bumper sticker, one of our more remarkable successes happened when Christian got a Bernie supporter to sign our petition right after she took a picture outside of Bernie’s Church Street office, with full knowledge that it was a Ted Cruz petition. He was that good.

We spent most of our time on Church Street, with mixed success. When Josh approached a couple, which consisted of a fat man and a woman, he gave the usual pitch, making sure to include the right buzzwords. However, this couple wasn’t satisfied, and they continued pressing Josh to reveal the name of the candidate we were petitioning was for. When Josh confidently and proudly revealed that the petition was for Senator Ted Cruz, the obese man nearly exploded in anger. Clearly too much of a Communist for us to have any chance, he quickly labeled Josh a psychopath while also lending the same epithet to Senator Cruz. This was just one of the many incidents where we fought on the front lines to advocate voting rights for all, only to be accosted by people of many genders and body sizes.

In another, similar incident, a passerbyer flatly stated, “I don’t think Ted Cruz should be on the ballot because I’m a Communist.” We should have focused on convincing the Mensheviks rather than the Bolsheviks.

***

“We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in [Vermont], we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” – Winston Churchill

Sometimes our pitch for the democratic process fails, but for different reasons. On one occasion, after Josh used the phrase democratic process, the person on the other end quickly replied with “I’m a Republican; I don’t support Democrats.” We then explained that we were from the Ted Cruz campaign and were in fact, to her disbelief, Republicans. Despite our efforts to convince her, she continued to believe that we were lying to her and that we were covert Democratic operatives. It’s that hard to encounter fellow Republicans in Vermont. Josh thought that if he continued trying to convince her, she would enter cardiac arrest, so he moved on.

We had lunch at Costco (how’s that for fiscal conservatism?) and gathered signatures in the parking lot until we were kicked out by polite management. After a few more haphazard attempts to collect signatures in the heart of Burlington, we managed to get a fair number at the University of Vermont hockey game, where we stood outside in the freezing cold and actually met a few Republicans, most of whom were not from Vermont. With the day spent, we went to a delicious barbeque restaurant. We had an enjoyable meal, despite the fact that we constantly thought that vegans would invade the restaurant in an attempt to shut it down. Brian, in particular, greatly enjoyed the apple cake and cornbread.

As we headed to the hostel for the night, we thought that this would be a convenient time to pick up some toiletries at Rite Aid. We rolled down the windows, turned up the volume to its maximum, and blasted Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’ Dirty,” the perfect song for a derpy blue minivan driving through Burlington. After we purchased our toiletries, and bleach to clean the communal shower in the case of Brian, we headed to the hostel with Justin Bieber’s “Baby” on maximum volume.

After a marginally restful night of sleep, we had a plan for Sunday. Given our mediocre success rate in Burlington, we decided to move to a locale more inclusive of our political views. We drove an hour and a half on country roads to Rutland, the only town in Vermont that Obama won by less than 10 percent in the 2012 presidential election. In the parking lot of a Wal-Mart and Price Chopper strip mall, we continued to press for signatures. The first reassuring sign was that cars with NRA stickers outnumbered those with Bernie stickers. Brian, oddly enough, encountered an enthusiastic Ben Carson supporter, who graciously signed our petition.

In a different turn of events, the manager of Price Chopper and a random guy aggressively approached Christian and other members of the Cruz Crew, informing us that we had to leave the premises immediately. We think that the random guy, who intimidated and threatened Christian, was a Bernie supporter, but we can neither confirm nor deny this report. At this time, Brian and Josh were in Price Chopper buying candy, donuts, and GMO, non-organic produce. Upon hearing the news of the random guy’s totalitarian takeover of Price Chopper, we cancelled our purchases, leaving the store without giving it any of our business. There’s capitalism for you guys.

After a quick lunch at Subway, we went to knock on doors in town. Overall, we were successful. However, one Bernie supporter did not believe that Ted Cruz should be on the ballot. To this, we responded that it was racist to deny a Hispanic, sitting United States Senator access to the ballot, a terrific comeback that greatly angered the Bernie supporter. If there’s anything they fear, it’s being called racist.

With our weekend nearly over, we returned to Hanover while listening to copious amounts of country music, our task (mostly) complete. Once we crossed the Ledyard Bridge, we could finally breathe again.

Liberties may have been taken with this quote.

  • Ed Naile

    If you want Vermont signatures come here to any NH shopping mall or Wal Mart.

    • fribble

      Correct.
      No sales tax.