Republicans have made much of their victories in the 2016 election.
Vermont Republicans have had to extend that to near-victories in order to get a similar bang for their buck, because Vermont remains solidly in Democratic hands.
That doesn’t stop the Vermont GOP from making wild claims about an imaginary mandate for their cuts-not-revenue agenda. As has been repeatedly discussed on GMD, this is a dangerously mis-drawn conclusion, no matter who is doing the drawing.
Organizationally, they caught the Dems napping, as they themselves have been doing over the past few election cycles. I rather doubt that this will happen again in 2016.
It remains instructive, nonetheless, to look at the mechanisms by which the VGOP gathered itself for a much improved election performance this year.
Exhibit A in this case would be American Majority.
Established in 2008, the somewhat presumptuously titled American Majority is a right wing recruitment and training organization that gave the Tea Party its wings and aims to put a conservative in every political office from side judge to POTUS.
AM is closely tied to the Koch brothers and steeped in special interest funding:
According to a 2010 article in AlterNet, and Ned Ryun himself, over 75% of the funding for American Majority comes from the Sam Adams Alliance. In 2008, the year in which American Majority was founded, 88% of the alliance’s money came from a single donation of $3.7 million.
‘Guess whose $3.7 mil that was.
Immediately after the election this year, American Majority trumpeted the headline:
17 TRAINED NEW LEADERS WIN IN VERMONT
I haven’t taken a count but I’d guess they’re claiming credit for every new Republican office holder in the state…and that is truly interesting!
said Matt Robbins, President of American Majority.”Since opening our Vermont office this year, we have trained 252 new leaders and activists. American Majority Vermont is helping to ensure that candidates who believe in smaller government have the tools to be successful in their campaigns. We are thrilled to see these strong results in Vermont.”
I wonder how many of our newly elected Vermont Republicans appreciate being tagged by the infamous Koch brothers?
Among the tips provided to candidates on the AM website is
How to “go negative” without getting nasty.
The last of the 10 rules provided in this section is the advice to never make reference to your opponent’s voting record or issue stances if you aren’t 100% certain of what they are.
At least one successful Republican candidate in Vermont seems to have gotten the negativity training, but decided to skip rule #10.
Running successfully for the Franklin 7 House seat, Larry Fiske relied heavily on negative campaigning against Democratic/Progressive incumbent Cindy Weed.
He told the voters that Weed was anti-gun, anti-property-tax-rebates, opposed to welfare reform and planning to tax people’s wells.
NONE OF WHICH WAS TRUE.
Thanks to American Majority, it would not surprise me to learn that this scene played out in districts all over the state where Republicans unseated incumbents.
Unfortunately, there are no consequences associated with lying to the voting public. If a candidate has the gall to say something untrue about his opponent, and is given the means to say it often enough; if media can’t be bothered to fact-check the claim, people will simply assume that it’s true.
So who really knows what the voters thought they were endorsing when they voted for Republican candidates this November?