Frank Bryan

Commentator

Frank Bryan is a writer and Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Vermont.

Bryan: Dear Vermont

Feb 10, 2017

Vermonters have historically been considered taciturn. And this reminds me of the story of the old Vermonter who was said to have come in from chores one morning and was so moved by the presence of his wife that he blurted out. “I love you so much that sometimes I can hardly resist the urge to come right out and say so.”

I’ve been thinking about all the years I taught the “Intro to American Government” course at state universities in Vermont, Mississippi and Montana - often two classes per semester.

I always began by saying that “The American government was designed by its Constitution not to work. It continues to operate as planned.”

Bryan: Reading Leaves

Oct 14, 2016

One of the great joys of life any time of year is the indulgence (there is no better word for it) of reading a good book. But I find it especially suited to a sunny autumn afternoon, and three remarkable books have been my recent leisure companions.

Spring has again come to the North Country, but this year we've had what used to be called an "open winter" - meaning that natural events like flood waters on the Connecticut and other Vermont rivers will not occur as they have for generations.

Frank Bryan: Nationhood

Mar 16, 2015

British social critic G.K. Chesterton, once said of the Irish : “All their wars are merry and all their songs are sad.”

Perfect!

Still, one doesn’t know whether to smile or weep. The Irish, one of the world’s great nations, have had remarkable difficulty in the business of state-hood.

Writer E. B. White once said that Democracy is “the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half the time.” Last November, less than 40% of Vermont’s eligible voters participated, so it might be said that the legislature just getting underway in Montpelier is not by White’s terms a democratic institution.

By other measures, however, Vermont’s legislative system might be considered one of the most democratic in America – if not in fact, the most democratic.

Last winter, the Vermont legislature considered and then postponed a proposal to consolidate elements of school governance from the town level to a more centralized district level - in which school superintendents would represent larger aggregates of towns. Nothing is finalized yet, but as it stands now, loss of power would be greatest in small towns, since representation on the new boards would be determined according to size.

Most people can’t tell you instantaneously exactly what they were doing on the evening of each and every third Wednesday in June going back more than thirty years – but I can.

Because that’s the date for the inauguration ceremony for the newly elected student Governor and other students elected for state-wide offices at Vermont Boy’s State. It’s sponsored by the American Legion, and for years now I’ve been invited to give the key-note address to the boys assembled expressly for an exercise in democracy. Now it’s held at Lyndon State College.

Bryan: Movies

May 16, 2014

Press reports these days document a steady decline in the movie going public as well as the industry’s proposed remedies – all of which confirm my suspicions that it doesn’t have a clue.

Here are some other solutions movie-makers might consider.

The first is marginal; but it does reveal something important about the mentality of today’s cinema executives.

Bryan: Two Books

Dec 16, 2013

America has 24 cities with larger populations than the entire state of Vermont. In the U.S. Senate every Vermonter has 60 times as much influence as a New Yorker or a Texan. But the best benefit of our size is its potential for civil society. And Vermonters are knee deep in it. We KNOW each other.

I was reminded of this recently as I made out my gift list for the holidays. In 2013 we published two books written by Vermonters for Vermonters; each continues the conversation we have had with ourselves since the beginning.

(Host) With the coming of the new year, educator, author and commentator Frank Bryan reflects on year's end a century ago - from a fondly personal perspective.

(Bryan) On December 27th I called my aunt, Corinne Bryan, who lives in Waterbury Center expressing regrets that the snowstorm meant I'd miss a family get-together for her birthday. Quick as a wink she said. This is a no place like home' night. You stay right where you are.

So, What's the point?

It was her 100th birthday.