The Checkered Leopard

BP’s take on the Windham County race set me to thinking.

When the late Senator Jim Jeffords made his famous statement, that he hadn’t left the Republican Party but it had left him, he foretold the GOP’s future in Vermont.

Today’s Vermont GOP is a fractured and ineffectual mess.

It happened rather quickly; and it happened, for the most part, because nationally, the “Grand Old Party” had just grown too extreme to find support here, orphaning Vermont Republicans to explain their parentage as best they could.  

Longtime Vermont Republican figures soldier on in a joyless vacuum.  Money from the national party, so necessary to buying a credible place on the ballot, comes with a secret handshake and the long shadow of talking points that would make Ronald Reagan blush.

Both reasonable men, Phil Scott and Randy Brock represent two aspects of the same disfunction:    

Scott has found a “safe” place by being everyone’s friend and a little vague on where he stands on everything else.

Left rudderless by an appalling national party, Randy Brock seems to have lost the will to live, politically speaking.

Meanwhile, every political hopeful who lies somewhere to the left of Michele Bachman, is trying to cram him or herself into the (winning) Democratic blazer and make it fit.  It’s a Blue Dog bonanza!

Can you blame them for seeking an identity makeover?

When even the word “conservative” can’t be said with a straight face, and demographics seem poised to send your party straight over the cliff, Darwin-style, what alternative is there?

The problem is that this artificial swelling of the Democratic ranks resets the parameters of “moderation” within the party a little to the right.  In so doing, Democratic commitment to tough issues like social justice, single payer healthcare and environmental stewardship become diluted.

And yes; there is some truth to the argument that defection to the Progressive Party just reinforces that diluted state.

Guilty as charged.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

6 thoughts on “The Checkered Leopard

  1. Oh, really Sue? What about the increasing ‘defection’ or at least re-branding that Progressive candidates are doing, running as “P/Ds”?

    Tim Ashe? David Zuckerman? Dean Corren? Cindy Weed? Molly Burke? Susan Hatch Davis? Sandy Haas? And, ahem, Anthony POLLINA??

    Perhaps pure Progressivism is a little far to the left for so many Vermonters.

    Yes, Democrats and Progressives share some policy goals.

    And yes, the Democratic Party is a very big tent – it would have to be to shelter Dick Mazza and, say, Cynthia Browning (D-Arlington, Manchester, Sandgate, and Sunderland), or for that matter, Cindy Weed (P/D Enosburg & Montgomery). And then, there’s the Progressives’ only statewide win – Auditor Doug Hoffer – an achievement made possible entirely by his alliance with the Democratic Party, as he ran as a P/D.

    Do you really want to crap on the Democrats, Sue, when it is saving Progressive seats all over the legislature? Do you really intend to dismiss those of us who “represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party” (spoken by Paul Wellstone, btw, long before Howard Dean’s unattributed quote) because a few Republicans have – sincerely or not – joined up, seeing no other choice?


    In the part of this universe that we know there is great injustice, and often the good suffer, and often the wicked prosper, and one hardly knows which of those is the more annoying. ~ Bertrand Russell  

  2. Yes, don’t CRAP ON the Dems.  The whole goddamn Dem Party has been selling out for decades.  I remember when Clean Gene and Bobby K were examples of the Democratic Party.  And Jerry Brown.  And Jesse Jackson.

    Now we have Obama and Shumlin types as examples of ‘change’.  Shit.  One Party rule has been realized–the Republicans and Dems as the Corporate Reich Party.  I hope the Progs do better this November.  Also the Liberty Union Party.

    Thank you, Sue.  And don’t apologize for what you said.

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