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Vermont: Small, But Independent in Politics

Vermont Is One of the Nation's Most Progressive States

Vermont is one small state with a fiercely independent streak that's unafraid to wield its political prowess. The nation's 14th state may be solidly blue today — save Republican Gov. Jim Douglas — but it wasn't always that way.

Its inception into the United States in 1791 was met with much debate, as Vermont wanted to be independent, and today 13 percent of all the state's residents want it to secede from America, according to the University of Vermont Center for Rural Studies. Even one of Vermont's current senators, Bernie Sanders, is an independent .

"Vermont is politically one of the most progressive states in the country. A state that caught on to the disastrous policies of Bush a lot earlier than most of America did," Sanders said.

The Green Mountain State was once one of the most Republican states in the Union, voting against Franklin Roosevelt all four times he ran for office.

"From the Civil War through [the] early 1960s, Republicans won every election in Vermont," said Middlebury College Professor Emeritus Eric Davis.

The New England state, known for its maple syrup and fall foliage, overwhelmingly voted for Richard Nixon three times — including his 1960 loss to Kennedy. It also sided with Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush before giving its three electoral votes to Bill Clinton in 1992 and setting up its currently blue affinity.

Today, Vermont is one of the most socially liberal, environmental active and left-leaning states in the country — in part because it's easy to get involved.

"It's a small state where you can actually impact the political process. I mean, it's pretty easy to go see the governor, you can see any of your political representatives," said Ben & Jerry's co-founder Ben Cohen.

There's even a political theater in the form of larger-than-life puppets that takes on everything from the presidential campaigns to war during the past four decades.

"It's just rebelling against the culture theatre, you know, overthrow the government theater — paper mache revolution against machine guns," said Bread and Puppet director Peter Schumann.

And while both Barack Obama and John McCain won their respective primaries this season, you can expect the Vermonters to side with Obama this election year.

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