Have you heard the news from the seemingly insignificant and nationally-watched race in the Lamoille-3 district of Cambridge and Waterville, Vermont – a campaign for the Vermont State House of Representatives?
Yep. Lucy beat Zac.
Out of just over 2100 votes cast, Lucy ran off with a decisive 400 vote win.
But policy issues within Vermont are not really why anyone really cared about this race.
You see, it’s all about The Duet (Capital “The”) – an event “completely unexpected and totally unprecedented,” as one CBS News Correspondent put it.
Zac and Lucy had competed fiercely in this election – personally visiting every one of the 2,000+ houses in the district. Their political differences were significant.
Nearing the end of the campaign, they participated in a debate in their small town library. At the end of the debate, Lucy and Zac asked the audience for a few extra minutes – and took out their cello and guitar to perform a duet together. They sung a version of “Society” by Eddie Vedder: “Society, have mercy on me, I hope you’re not angry if I disagree.”
As politics briefly fell away, many people in the room got emotional – and shed tears. You can watch the full duet here:
And a CBS Evening News segment on the whole experience here:
As reported in the local paper, “Their performance drew a heartfelt response from the audience — lengthy applause and even a few tears.” Online, the public response was also emotional – “Tissues!”…. “Made my cry – this is so what our country needs”…”Bravo!”
Several people said things like, “Wish there was more of this in our country” and “We (US) need more of this” and “Politics done right.”
Another person said, “WORLD – TAKE NOTE! We all could learn from these two amazing young adults!” and another, “We need more candidates like them.”
Still another person said, “A landslide victory for civility. Well done” – with a final person adding, “kind of makes you wish you could vote for both of them…”
And yes, some people posted both of their campaign signs in their yards!
Since their campaign began, both candidates had committed to a civil, respectful campaign — sharing a sense of sadness at the lack of respect in today’s politics. As Zac told the local paper, “There’s a huge number of extremely poor examples.”
It was during a Fourth of July parade where they both realized they were musical – and Lucy first pitched the idea to Zac as a debate soon approached: “It seemed like a fun thing to do to lighten the tone of the debate. Music has always been an important part of my life, a way to bring people together,” she told the local paper.
They finalized the plan two weeks before the debate, and even spent two hours practicing together, the Associated Press reported.
“It strikes a chord,” “to say to the world that this is a better way.” He later told the AP, “I mean, we’re filled with all of this anger and divisiveness throughout whatever we’re watching, whatever we’re reading, and it’s everywhere. And I think a lot of people are tired of it.”
Civility is nice and all – until someone loses, right? How did Zac respond to his loss?
Well, see for yourself:
Washington Post columnist Isaac Stanley-Becker called this Vermont example one of the “glimpses of decency in an ugly campaign.” He added, “In an election season marked by anger and bitterness, by accusations of treason and voter suppression, by racism and fear mongering and pipe bombs and the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the nation’s history, some people have acted decently toward one another.”
“Yes, it’s true,” summarized beautifully by Cindy McCain on election night, widow of Senator John McCain, “Win or lose for any of you here tonight, and those of us on the stage, win or lose, we need to figure out how we can come together, work with our allies — and our rivals — and help make this wonderful country better than we found it.”