(POLS 123  60192 and VS 123 60390)

Summer 2005




Tuesdays/Thursdays 1:30 – 5:15 pm


Kalkin 003


Frank Bryan




Room 540 Old Mill Building

Office Hours:

Tuesdays/Thursdays 1-1:30 pm  and by appointment

Web Page:







Midterm Exam

June 9


Paper Due

June 27


Final Exam

June 23




Frank Bryan and John McClaughry, The Vermont Papers (on electronic reserve)

Frank Bryan and Bill Mares, The Vermont Owner’s Manual

Frank Bryan, Real Democracy: The New England Town Meeting and How it Works

Michael Sherman (ed.) Vermont State Government Since 1965 (on electronic reserve)


Plus assigned readings on reserve.  Reserve readings are a key requirement of the course.  Be sure to consult the readings list at the end of each section of lectures.




                                                                                          CLASSROOM PROTOCOL


1.        Students are expected to attend and be prepared for ALL regularly scheduled classes.


2.        Students are expected to arrive on time and stay in class until the class period ends.  If a student knows in advance that s/he will need to leave early, s/he should notify the instructor before the class period begins.


3.        Students are expected to treat faculty and fellow students with respect.  For example, students must not disrupt class by leaving and reentering during class, must not distract class by making noise, and must be attentive to comments being made by the instructors and by peers.


4.        Instructor will inform students of any special additions.


5.       Students are expected to check their UVM  email for this course on a regular basis.





Introduction:  This course treats the government and politics of the state of Vermont in the context of conceptual frameworks found in political science.  It therefore has two goals:


1.   To give the student a firm grounding in the governmental institutions and the political processes that make the Vermont political system work.


2.   To deal with some of the "great questions" that political scientists seek to answer.  Here the intent is to teach basic concepts by using Vermont as a case study.


To do this each section deals with one or more fundamental questions in political science and asks:  What light does the Vermont experience shed on this question?  Is what we have learned about any given general construct (by studying Vermont) particular to Vermont?  Is it different elsewhere?  In America at large?  In other American states?


Obviously knowing the Vermont case thoroughly is essential.  But it is equally essential to be able to think about Vermont in terms of what it teaches us about social science.  Examples are:


·        Does the coming of a two-party system in Vermont verify the hypothesis that competitive party systems are beneficial to the less fortunate in society?


·         Does the proliferation of interest groups in Vermont since the 1960's bear out the hypothesis that as "special interest politics" grows in influence the power of democratically elected legislatures declines?


·         Does Vermont's two-year term for governor support the hypothesis that longer terms for executives are more conducive to efficient government?


·        Does the Vermont town meeting show that the founders were right when they warned about the dangers of direct democracy?





Part I:

Vermont Politics in a Systems Context


A.". . . I shan't be gone long" Does the “real Vermont” exist?


B.  Living in the Backbeyond—Historical Footprints


C. Above the “Optimum Climatic Area”–the Socio-Economic Setting



Required Reading:

Bryan & Mares, The Vermont Owner’s Manual


Bryan & McClaughry, The Vermont Papers–Chapter 3


Frank Bryan, “The Back Beyond” (on e-reserve)




Note: Bryan & McClaughry, The Vermont Papers—Parts I and II should be read before the midterm exam.



Part II:

The Constitutional ContextConstraints on Political Action


A.  Vermont in the Federal Matrix


B.  The Vermont Constitution


C.  Changing the Vermont Constitution



Required Reading:

Frank M. Bryan, “Reducing the Time Lock on the Vermont Constitution”                        Vermont History (Winter, 1976), pp. 38-47 (on e-reserve).




Hill, in Sherman 17-30 (on e-reserve)



Part III:

Local Government and Town Meeting


A. The Town's Role in Vermont Politics


B. The Nature of Town Meeting


C.  Patterns in Attendance and Participation


D.  What the Future Holds



Required Reading:

Frank M. Bryan, Real Democracy: The New England Town Meeting and How it Works needs to be read in its entirety before the midterm exam.



Part IV:

Interest Groups, Parties and Elections


A.  The One-Party Era


B.  Breakthrough Politics


C.  New Patterns in the Election Fabric



Required Reading:

Clark Bensen and Frank Bryan, “Strengthening Democratic Control: Vermont’s 1986 Election in Historical Perspective,” Vermont History (Fall, 1988).  (on e-reserve)




Graff, in Sherman 77-91 (on reserve)



Part V:

The Legislature


A.  The Reapportionment Revolution


B.  The Nature of Legislative Change



Required Reading:

Frank Bryan, “Pivot Point for Democracy,” (on e-reserve)


Sanford and Doyle, in Sherman 31-52 (on e-reserve)





Part VI:

The Governor and Bureaucracy


A.  The Governor in Comparative Perspective


B.  The Structure of Bureaucracy


C.  Overlays of Confusion



Required Reading:

Fitzhugh, in Sherman 91-106 (on e-reserve)


Douglas, in Sherman 137-156 (on e-reserve)



Part VII:

The Judiciary, Adjudicating Policy


A.  The Judicial System


B.   Choosing Judges



Required Reading:

Dooley, in Sherman 187-242 (on e-reserve)