2024… the year Vermont went Republican?


Dear Editor,

With its reputation as a blue state since 1965, and despite four generations of liberal progressives, has Vermont resurrected its alternate self as a hotbed of Republican values?

In the primaries on Town Meeting Day, March 4, held in Vermont towns by decree of their original 18th Century charters, a Republican candidate for the presidential nomination swept the Vermont electorate.

But not so fast…

Since the primary ballot does not require a voter to declare a party affiliation but to “vote their conscience” as the 1777 voter’s oath decrees, many otherwise left-leaning Vermont voters stepped across the aisle – not because they have changed their stripes, but because a vote for Republican Haley was a vote against a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Donald Trump.

Party switcheroos are not unknown. In 2001, Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont declared his independence from the Republican Party and began to caucus with the Senate’s Democrats. He didn’t leave the GOP, he explained, it left him – a moderate, meat-and-potatoes Republican surrounded by mean-spirited right-wing zealots whose sense of public service seemed to have abandoned them.

Wikipedia says that Jeffords’ decision “changed control of the Senate from Republican to Democratic, the first time a switch had ever changed party control.”

Party control? Maybe. Introducing… the moderate Republican. Certainly Governor Scott, four-time elected governor, moderate Republican, race car driver, businessman and traditional Vermonter through and through, has earned deep respect among Vermont voters, if not in the supermajority Democratic Legislature, for his commonsensical, compassionate clearheadedness and grasp of not only the issues but the real lives of his fellow Vermonters.

Scott’s popularity climbed steadily through four elections since 2016. Wikipedia again: “Scott was elected governor in 2022 with 70.9% of the vote and a margin of 46%, the largest of any Vermont gubernatorial election since 1996, and the largest for a Republican since 1950.”

Governor Scott stepped into the shoes of former Governor Peter Shumlin, a rich-boy from Putney whose favorite word was “bold” and whose bold projects tended to be based on the premise, “Build it and they will come” … rather, commit to the project and find the money later. His ambitious state health insurance plan sank due to bungled software, and on his watch, another ambitious job-creation project in Newport is still a hole in the ground, foreign investors were cheated, and the crooks who were contracted to manage it are in prison. Boston Magazine called it “Vermont’s scandal of the century.”

At least when support for Shumlin in the 2016 election lagged, he seemed to be blindsided but was smart enough to throw in the towel.

We seem to forget that election campaigns — and elections — are not a horse race, not a sport, where the entire objective is to win at all costs. Even though outvoting Trump was a tactic in which Democrats and Progressives perhaps had to swallow their pride, maybe it signals a new era of respectful collaboration between — up to now — bitter enemies?

Julia Purdy,  N. Clarendon

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