Angry Jack Lindley, chair of the Vermont Republican Party, has once again resorted to his favorite tactic — cutting off his nose to spite his face.
The man at the helm of a nearly bankrupt party with no grassroots infrastructure, a dearth of appealing candidates, and an ideology that’s clearly to the right of the Vermont electorate, has decided the thing to do is… tack to the right. It’s like the captain of the Titanic shouting “More icebergs! We need more icebergs!”
This time, Lindley has responded to the federal sequester by basically saying it’s not drasttic enough. Yes, he’s effectively positioned himself to the right of the Tea Party Congress.
Lindley… says the across-the-board cuts, split 50-50 between defense and non-defense federal agencies, are merely a “bend in a curve of increasing expenditures.”
Joining in the Teabagger’s Lament was House Minority Leader Don Turner.
“A lot of people are trying to make this seem like a huge, huge cut,” Turner told VTDigger. “I don’t think that’s the case.”
And, as with Lindley, Turner has a remarkably paleolithic outlook on the federal cuts:
Turner’s other take is that the sequester provokes a long overdue and much-needed conversation about the state’s reliance on federal funding.
… “We have become very, very dependent in Vermont on federal money, and we need to start to wean ourselves off of that.”
Hmmm. Yes, we need to go back to the Good Old Days when we didn’t have welfare or interstate highways or any of that modern claptrap. Back when communities struggled mightily to meet their obligations.
So much so that, according to “The Star That Set,” Samuel Hand’s account of the rise, reign, and fall of the VTGOP, the clamoring for centralized government actually began in Vermont’s smallest, most rural communities — the ones that didn’t have the resources to meet their obligations. They were the ones who started Vermont on the path toward big government, because they needed a government big enough to support them.
But that matters little to a diminished Republican Party that’s largely been stripped of its moderate wing. If you spend any time around the State House, you’ll see why the VTGOP may well be trapped in an ideological vortex. The Republican delegation is full of tea-party types who can barely contain their anger as they sit through hearings, meetings and debates, powerless to stop the Democrats from pursuing their agenda. The atmosphere must seem so alien to Republicans who’ve been incubated in the Fox/Rush Bubble: they are forced to endure endless concern for health care and the environment and the poor and all that other commie-pinko stuff.
One quick example. Tom Terenzini, retired prison guard and freshman state representative from Rutland Town. Technically an R/D because no Democrat ran against him, but clearly a Fox/Rush kinda guy. By dint of some cosmic joke (or freshman hazing ritual), Terenzini was assigned to the House Fish, Wildlife, and Water Resources Committee, chaired by noted environmental champion David Deen.
Terenzini clearly has no interest in fish, wildlife, or natural resources aside from human exploitation of same. And when you watch him in committee meetings, you witness a fascinating combination of boredom and slow-burning rage.
Seeing Republican lawmakers like Terenzini, and reading comments like those from Lindley and Turner, make me realize that the VTGOP is caught in a powerful current carrying them further to the right. And their State House impotence is only making things worse: the longer they have to watch the Dems walk all over them, the madder they get.
It’s going to take some remarkable events to make the Vermont Republican Party relevant again. And I don’t see anything to suggest that its current crop of leaders and officeholders can take the necessary steps. Quite the opposite; I think they’re far more likely, out of pure spite, to push their party into even greater irrelevance.