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I watched the debate among the candidates running to represent Bennington-4 and then read with concern the commentary by candidate Joe Gervais of Arlington, printed by the Banner (Oct. 26). Although I do not live in his district, I study several of the issues Mr. Gervais raises and feel his descriptions and prescriptions should not go unanswered. Several matters stand out.

First, I have no reason to doubt Mr. Gervais' concern for people who are homeless. The difficulty is that he claims he wants to pursue the root causes of problems, but he is willfully blind to the facts. Homelessness is about poverty. Before the Ronald Reagan era tax cuts, the bottom 50 percent of wage earners in the United States earned twice as much as the top 1 percent. After the Donald Trump tax cuts, the bottom 50 percent of wage earners earned half as much as the top 1 percent. Neither Mr. Gervais nor the leaders of his party have given the slightest indication that they are prepared to tackle the fundamental drivers of this devastating inequality.

Second, and for me of greatest concern, is the matter of judgment. Mr. Gervais cites two sources for his views, the Epoch Times newspaper, a notorious purveyor of disinformation published by the Falun Gong religious cult, and the Discovery Institute. The Discovery Institute promotes the pseudoscientific notion of "intelligent design," a variant of traditional creationism while attempting to discredit the teaching of evolution. It denies climate change and has published a manifesto aimed at explicitly shaping public policy to reflect politically conservative, fundamentalist values. And then there is this: Against all legal evidence, the Discovery Institute asserts that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

As we know, Mr. Gervais went to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 — to pray that the presidential election be overturned, he says, not to storm the Capitol. Respecting and upholding election results, especially when they go against you, is about as basic an obligation as an elected representative in a democracy can have. In fact, each member of the Vermont House must solemnly swear "that you will be true and faithful to the State of Vermont and that you will not, directly or indirectly, do any act or thing injurious to the Constitution of Government thereof." I am confident that our neighbors in Bennington-4 respect, treasure, and will defend this pledge.

Susan P. Borden



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