(Reviewed by JD Jung)
“Vermont on its own will be a lot closer to what Lincoln had in mind for a healthy country.”
When is a country just too big to be accountable to all of its citizens? Former radio host, seventy-two year old Vern Barclay believes that the United States is just that and is out of control.
So he wants to do something about it in order to save his home state, Vermont—where “neighbors are more than decorative” and politics is local. He wants to keep its progressive and friendly nature. He notes that Vermont was the first sovereign nation to outlaw slavery, doing so before joining the Union. Vermont was also the first state to legalize civil unions.
Barclay now delivers podcasts from undisclosed locations. He is assisted by Perry Alterson, a nineteen year old techie with limited social skills. Newspapers started the idea of secession and Barclay is simply expanding the conversation. He and Alterson conduct contests for a national flag and song for Vermont. Alterson, who is a huge fan of the old Memphis sound of the 60’s and 70’, pushes that a song from that genre be chosen.
Even though Radio Free Vermont, “underground, underpowered, and underfoot” has quite a following, Barclay has been labeled a “terrorist” and is on the run. He has been accused of orchestrating various antics such as reversing the sewage system in a Walmart. Soon his three cohorts will also be dodging authorities.
Through satire, Radio Free Vermont turns feelings of hopelessness in this current political and social era into those of empowerment and action. The characters are fully developed and the action never stops. Each seemingly minor situation adds to the plot and we never stop rooting for our rebels.
Author Bill McKibben tells us:
“…it’s that when confronted by small men doing big and stupid things, we need to resist with all the creativity and wit we can muster, and if we can do so without losing the civility that makes life enjoyable, then so much the better.”
Unfortunately the other side is far from civil. In reality, we have to actively resist the Trump administration and the evil that it promotes. Sometimes we need a related diversion though and McKibben has given us just that. I recommend Radio Free Vermont to all Americans who feel angry with the current state of affairs.