Today in my 80s, the proud grandfather of eight grandchildren in my blended family, I chafe about their future in this “sweet land of liberty.” The 14 U.S. presidents of my lifetime have made their share of horribly costly foreign policy mistakes, lived personal lives of varied personal integrity, and in the last several decades, increasingly seem the puppets, some willing - some resistant, of corporate power and brutal financial leverage.

Four of our presidents knew war firsthand; their later actions as commander-in-chief, in my view, tempered by their experience of watching comrades die. All, save Trump, as politicians in elected office or military command, learned the essential elements of compromise. And all, save Trump, seem to project a consistent level of common decency in their speech, a pride in leading the great immigrant crucible of the American experiment.

The vital sinews of America's democracy need constant upkeep. A nation where less than half the eligible voters go to the polls cannot long avoid a withering of the unspoken zeal and commitment of responsible citizenship. Happily, Vermont boasts the most progressive voting practices in the nation. Help assure my grandchildren will grow up, safely, in a nation they can be proud of.

Fill out an absentee ballot — or — go to the polls on Nov. 6.


Erik Esselstyn

North Montpelier

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