A Gallup poll following President Donald Trump's first six months in office found his lowest approval rating among all 50 states was in Vermont, at just 26 percent. It is very much within that context that author Bill Mares got together with cartoonist Jeff Danziger to produce a book of essays called The Full Vermonty: Vermont in the Age of Trump.
It's a kind of guide for those Vermonters who, in lieu of an alternate universe in which anyone but Trump won the White House, would prefer to fast forward through the Trump presidency as quickly as possible.
VPR’s Mitch Wertlieb spoke with Bill Mares about The Full Vermonty. Listen to the conversation above.
The book’s genesis came after Trump’s election while Mares was recovering from open heart surgery.
“The Election Day, the 8th of November, was my birthday. So I had sort of a double whammy of disappointment," Mares recalled. "But I refused to despair. And after a month or so of denial, talked to my friends — one of them was Jeff Danziger, and he said, 'Well, why not write another book before dementia sets in?' And I said, 'That's a great idea, but I'll only do it with you.'"
The book includes essays — some humorous and some serious — from about 20 Vermonters, along with cartoons from Danziger, Don Hooper and Ed Koren. It was published by Vermont-based Green Writers Press.
“We ended up with this wonderful potpourri of ideas that was far better than we could have done ourselves,” Mares said.
Vermont went for Hillary Clinton in the general election, but nearly 100,000 Vermonters did vote for Trump. When asked if he’s worried about offending those Vermonters, Mares said he is not.
“I still think he's a buffoon," Mares said. "They should feel that they can do their own book or they can do their own speech. I'm not saying they're buffoons. I'm saying Trump is a buffoon and let them make the connection if they want.”
Mares says the book was one thing he could do to speak out.
“I was proud to have been part of it and proud to have persuaded all this variety of people to participate in it and to take pride in the collective effort. And, you know, I think being able to actually do something tangible to voice my dismay at his presidency, yeah, I think that was cathartic,” Mares said.
Disclosure: Bill Mares is an occasional VPR commentator.