New Hampshire

Vermont Is New Hampshire Turned Upside Down

Or is it the other way around?


The newshook for Katharine Seelye's new piece in The New York Times is the New Hampshire primary, and so it begins with the counterintuitive claim that "if [Bernie] Sanders wins New Hampshire, it may be in spite of his coming from Vermont, not because of it." Newsy topic invoked, she drops Sanders and moves to the meat of the story, which is to contrast Vermont's communitarian culture with the more individualistic ethos found next door. Here's a sample:

Vermont is on the left
Samuel Augustus Mitchell Jr.

Vermont was once the most Republican state in the country and is now among the most liberal, thanks in part to an influx starting in the 1960s that included people like Mr. Sanders, although local politics had already started trending Democratic.

While many places around the country took on a "loose" hippie cast in the late '60s, "Vermont seems unique in the degree to which an entire state was, and still is, seen through this lens," wrote Jason Kaufman and Matthew E. Kaliner of Harvard in a 2011 study of the two states.

As Vermont's reputation changed, more counterculture migrants moved in and reinforced the state's crunchy, artistic and socially conscious stereotype, the authors wrote. They said Vermont had twice as many Birkenstock dealers per capita as New Hampshire, more vegetarian restaurants and more hemp product dealers.

New Hampshire's migrants were more likely to be economic refugees, especially from Massachusetts ("Taxachusetts"). Most of the state's population is in the suburbs along the southern tier.

"When I cross the river into Vermont, I can see the difference and feel the difference," said Rebecca Rule, a New Hampshire humorist and storyteller. "The fields open up, it's more rural, there are more farms and more cows. Vermont is a gentler place. New Hampshire is more hard-edged."

She also sees more stickers and peace signs on cars in Vermont. "You don't see that as much in New Hampshire," she said. "Most of us would just as soon not have anybody know how we feel."

It's a fun piece, and you should read the whole thing. It reminded me of a passage from Forrest McDonald, a historian who passed away last month. In E Pluribus Unum, McDonald looked back at the Granite State of the 1780s and wrote:

[M]ost New Hampshireites had already achieved the taxless, shiftless Utopia which most Americans cherished as a secret dream, and for which "Republicanism" and "unalienable rights" were mere euphemisms.

He said this disapprovingly, mind you, but I'm hoping the Free Staters can make that the state motto. (And let's give the Vermonters of the 1780s credit for their independent spirit too: At that point they wouldn't even join the United States.)

Bonus link: For an even more complicated social geography of the region, check out "The Two Vermonts." Readers are encouraged to add yet more nuance to the picture down in the comments.

NEXT: Bill Clinton Accuses Bernie Bros of Sexism. Yes, That Bill Clinton.

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  1. Vermont was the patch of land claimed by both New York and New Hampshire.

    Had it gone with New York, it’d be as abused as the rest of upstate.

    Had it gone with New Hampshire, it’d be just as unremarkable.

    Can we foist it on the Canuckistanis?

    1. Can we foist it on the Canuckistanis?

      Would you consider a Kickstarter campaign so Rufus could start a restaurant chain there?

      I’d visit again.

      1. I’d serve libertarian food.

        1. can you list a few examples?

          1. Orphan eyeballs soup for one thing.

            1. Soylent Green?

          2. Food served in liberal or government establishments that gives people food poisoning becomes libertarian food once the liberals admit the food poisoning.

    2. The rest of us feel that way about the entire Northeast.

      1. Well, at least we aren’t all racist, Jesus freak, sister fucking, west coast hippy, flyover country, hick, faggot, aligator wrastlin’, hula dancing redneck assholes.

  2. How do the gun cultures compare though? As far as I know, they’re pretty similar.

  3. Is there a real difference ? One is upside down from the other.

  4. Hairsplitting “differences” between Vermont and New Hampshire is like hairsplitting differences between Connecticut and Rhode Island. Sure, if you’re from there (and I am!) you know the “differences”, but they’re really very minor. They’re adjacent tiny New England states, they just aren’t that different.

    1. Jesus, Epi, don’t act like you can’t understand the decade-long dispute between me and my boyfriend about which tiny triangle we’d rather live in. NH OR BUST!

      1. They’re actually irregular trapezoids.

      2. tiny triangle we’d rather live in


      3. Nicole wants to live in Berlin, NH and frequently cross over into Quebec. Because she is the worst.

        1. nicole wants to smell like ass, all the time?

          1. How would that set her apart from the rest of us here at Hit’n’Run?

              1. I like the smell of my hair treatment; the pleasing odor is half the point.

                1. *Sniffs*

                  You been using my hair treatment?!?

          2. I can neither confirm nor deny how bad Nicole smells.

            1. Does nose size matter?

              1. size always matters

    2. To a visitor the differences aren’t that huge on the surface. But they are pretty different. To start with, people actually do productive things in NH.

  5. OT – I’m getting fed up with the mederator at my local paper’s site. I asked the (mostly Democrat, largely drooling bernie fans) commenters there if the fact that their choices were between a felon and an economic illiterate ever made them think about what’s happened to their party. It got sent to the memory hole before it ever saw the light of day. Probably right next to my remark about Bernie being a relic from a deluded age.

    And this is why I keep coming back to this abuse chamber.

    1. Cheers.

      1. *tips half-empty soda bottle*


  6. Logical mis-statement by Reason, it seems 😀

  7. Vermont was once the most Republican state in the country and is now among the most liberal, thanks in part to an influx starting in the 1960s that included people like Mr. Sanders, although local politics had already started trending Democratic.

    Serious question, didn’t Vermont become a kind of hippy haven after all those people traveled to Woodstock but couldn’t afford New York?

    1. No. And Vermont isn’t really a hippie haven. It’s more of a crunchy New England taciturn thing (you have to see how hard Vermonters will eyeball you as a stranger even as they take your money). It’s very common. It’s hard to describe, maybe Nicole can do it better than me.

      1. It’s hard to describe, maybe Nicole can do it better than me.

        But does it involve Maple Syrup?

        1. or baskets, or cheese?

      2. They do hate outsiders. I was born in cali and moved there before I was in school, I was reminded of that fact until I left on occasion.

        1. Bizarre. I love tourist. They bring money and then go home.

            1. Really Diane. You expect me to use proper grammar and pluralize things and junk. Not gonna happen friendo.

              1. Floridah Tourist is much less likely to be armed than Floridah Man.

        2. That may be the biggest difference culturally I notice between the two states. Vermonters are kind of weirdly hostile to outsiders. I’ve never been an outsider in NH, but it seems like we are generally pretty welcoming.

  8. If Jesse weren’t an unlettered Philistine, he would have linked to this.

  9. Not that the NYT is known for printing facts, but that loud old fool in the rumpled jacket is from New York. Flatlander through and through. The sooner he moves back, the better.

      1. For the sins of the never-ending recession in upstate, they can have Bernie back as well. Plus, Hillary may be re-located to more austere accommodations if DoJ grows a spine.

        1. You think house arrest in one of 17 mansions will qualify as “austere?” Especially compared to Rustbelt New York?

  10. Vermont is a strange place. I left there because there’s nothing for jobs. Unless you have some, youre screwed. The people are split. The more rural you get ( I grew up on a town of around 4000) the more small l or old school Republican people. There’s also old hippies, but they’re the live and let live, I’m going to eat granola on my sheep farm type. The younger people, my peers, are solidly progressive. There’s not much real thinking, feelings are enough. In high school, there were tons of socially aware people, all out fighting whatever cause was hot. Most peers went to college for various activist majors from UVM.
    On that note, I’ve always hated the fact that somehow UVM is University of VerMont.

    1. Pretty spot-on. I’m actually in the no-snow havin’ green mountain state now. The corridor running from Waitsfield north then west through Montpeiler to Burlington is very liberal. With the accompanying high cost of living and poor roads. The folks in the sticks, or in the willywags as one of my old logger buds likes to say, are pretty fucking conservative, in the live and let live, I’ll mind my business and you mind yours style. The vote tends to swing Democrat because, I’m told, the college students vote here versus by absentee ballot. Gun culture seems to center around hunting and self defense, but ARs and AKs do move pretty briskly off the racks at the place I buy my ammunition.

      The jobs are largely service and retail. And the server/clerk manner can be pretty brusque, it’s New England , after all. That said, there’s an unofficial motto, like many tourist spots: Vermont, You’ve Seen It, Now Leave.

      I’m with ColoraDOOM, in that it’s not a place to stay.

      1. I’ve visited Vermont maybe, what 30 times in my life (including having run marathons there), and I agree. It’s most difficult to get a handle on. For a state a Vermont friend once called ‘the agrarian poor’ also has an abnormal amount (e.g. Montpelier and Church St.)of restaurants. Turns out retirees are flocking into the state and have some disposable income to spend. Otherwise, the state itself couldn’t possibly support all those expensive restos – some of which are really good.

        My sister, for her part, always camps in VT/NH. They have another angle to it altogether.

      2. I’m in the service industry, and the pay in Burlington would never get me more than the worst of the apartments. Some of that might be from the colleges that make up around half the city. There’s some old money there. But it’s a toxic environment to try to make any money.

      3. Vermont is not the liberal haven a lot of people think it is. Just go up into the Kingdom or more generally the non-ski areas (who are raped and pillaged to pay for school everywhere else).

        Guns are very prevalent even in the most liberal areas – outside of a handful of “cities” there are no cops. Leaving out the background, I was told (by phone!) by a state trooper it would take 20 to 40 minutes for them to get to my area on a normal night. Unfortunately, the program to push the meth labs out of Burlington and Rutland just put them in the sticks. Thanks.

        And there is industry in Vermont. Beer. I will sell you a few cases of Heady’s for an undisclosed sum and not on Craig’s list.

    2. Well, UVA is the University of VirginiA, so why not?

      1. At least that can be hand-waived away as “UVa”.

        1. True. I don’t know, that’s my pet peeve I suppose.

    3. It’s from the latin–Universitas Viridis Montis

      1. Well now I feel like a dick. Let me gripe in peace!!

  11. speaking as inveterate masshole, I’ll take NH…cheap liquor & cigarettes!!!

    1. I’d love to move to NH but I don’t think I could stand living north of Virginia.

    2. NH and VT both have state stores. While NH has no tax, you can often by booze for a few bucks less on the sticker in VT so kinda washes out.

  12. and guns…the ATF of the lower 48!!!

  13. “She also sees more stickers and peace signs on cars in Vermont.”

    And Subarus.

  14. I lived in VT for most of the 70’s. When I first moved there, it was very Republican. But, in an unexpected way, that I had never experienced growing up on the urban east coast.

    It was the old school live & let live, small government GOP, that has long since disappeared, there as well as nationally.

    People were accepted until proven otherwise. Hippies or gays might have seemed odd to the natives, but were considered just friendly neighbors, as long as they were.

    I loved it while there, but am glad that I’m not there for its increasingly pro-government mindset. NH is still much more like the old VT.

  15. Vermont was once the most Republican state in the country and is now among the most liberal, thanks in part to an influx starting in the 1960s that included people like Mr. Sanders, although local politics had already started trending Democratic.

    but nothing like this will ever happen if we bring in freedom loving South Americans….

    *ducks out of room*

    1. Well, of course. Everyone knows that you have to burn villages in order to save them.

  16. Somewhat on-topic: I received a letter today in a envelope with a window. Above the window is written “IMPORTANT TAXPAYER INFORMATION ENCLOSED”. The return address has no name and is simply a PO box in Manchester.

    The letter has a seal for a “New Hampshire State Voter Program” at the top. The letter reads:

    Dear [DEG’s full first name],


    Why do so many people fail to vote? We’ve been talking about the problem for years, but it only seems to get worse. This year, we’re taking a new approach. We’re sending this mailing to you, some of your friends, neighbors, colleagues at work and community members to make them aware of who does and does not vote.

    This charts shows the names of some your friends [typo in original], your neighbors, and other people you know, showing which have voted in the past. After the February 9th election, we plan to mail an updated chart. You and your friends, your neighbors, and other people you know will all know who voted and who did not vote.


    1. A chart follows which shows my name and voting history plus the names of a whole bunch of people that I don’t know and who don’t live on my street. At the very bottom I see, “Paid for by Public Policy Matters”.

      I ran a quick Google search on both Public Policy Matters and the New Hampshire State Voter Program. This article talks about something similar in Maine. I found nothing specific to either Public Policy Matters or the New Hampshire State Voter Program.

    2. I would write back and say “I wouldn’t give a flying fuck, you fascists.”

      1. That’s a good idea. My first thought was, “I need to spend more time at the gun range just in case things go bad.”

    3. Will it state which primary they’ve voted in?

      1. I don’t know. The letter I have does not state in which party’s primary the person voted.

    4. Yet another reason to give up voting.

      I find this new strategy of shaming people into voting quite amusing.

  17. People always say, what happened in Vermont?

    And I sez, ‘paper ballots, with pencils to mark ’em, and plenty of Progressive Coalition acolytes to count ’em out.’

    Know why they still got guns? ‘Cos the progressive fuckers know they don’t really have a majority.

  18. I forgot to add that the older hippies don’t really have a gov-socialist ideology. They give to what they want, they don’t buy guns. But they have no problem with the recluse neighbor who has the take back Vermont sign on his barn. It made the younger people that much worse. I lived near a religious community. They epitomized the “libertarianism allows socialism” idea.

  19. No mention of the Free State Project reaching 20,000 signers, and trying to make New Hampshire more libertarian? I recall in the original FSP planning, they said Vermont became more granolaey after a magazine article saying all the hippies should move to Vermont and take it over. Apparently it happened.

    1. No mention of the Free State Project reaching 20,000 signers, and trying to make New Hampshire more libertarian?

      Follow the link from “Free Staters.”

  20. I grew up in VT and left in 1981. At that time it was a Republican state. It had been changing, but really flipped with the Clinton election. OTOH, I now live in GA which used to be a yellow dog Democrat state and has now flipped Republican. Changing demographics account for both.

    VT did not vote for a Democrat for president between James Monroe and LBJ. This means they voted against FDR 4 times.

    There are a lot of oddities in VT such as Land Act 250 which simultaneously keeps the countryside the same as it was 45 years ago and kills jobs.

    Rednecks in Vermont are called Woodchucks. Only real difference is they have a snowmobile in the front yard instead of a bass boast. One acquaintance from Boston once said “Vermont. That’s like the Mississippi of New England.” It only hurt because it’s true.

    1. Ha thats great. The biggest problem I find when I’m in VT is the Massholes.

    2. “Vermont. That’s like the Mississippi of New England.”

      I would have said Maine.

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