This has been a banner week for Republicans, especially in Vermont, and hopefully a turning point for us. Democrats have divided and destroyed themselves in the presidential debates, while Republicans have seen a budding sense of unity between two otherwise distant elements.
The recent Democratic debates ... put on showcase the complete dysfunction and disorder within the Democratic Party. The first night of the debates, moderates like John Delaney and Tim Ryan were brutally attacked on stage when they suggested that full-on socialism might not be a winning issue. It was painful to watch Delaney, who actually knew something about health care delivery, when he started to speak of Medicare’s unsustainable reimbursement rate, to get completely shouted down by Sens. Sanders and Warren because his facts were really messing up their campaign slogans. But facts are stubborn things.
Delaney was bringing up the reality of an issue Democrats refuse to address: the way government tries to cover more people is by paying your doctor less. Medicare usually only covers about 85% of the cost, while Medicaid covers sometimes less than 50%. Outlawing private insurance, which Sanders and Warren made clear is their ultimate goal, would mean completely destroying most physicians’ practices. Also, Ryan tried to dump a bucket of cold water on the Democratic front runners by indicating most Americans do not want open and unchecked borders, a position that has been supported by numerous polls recently. But, again, the relative voices of common sense were marginalized and pushed aside. Democrats proved there is no longer any room for moderate Democrats or independents in their party anymore, only the far left progressives will be accepted.
It got so bad in the second night of the debate even President Obama was under attack. The millions of people who voted for Obama were left wondering, how did the Democratic Party move so far away from the Democrat with the highest approval ratings within his own party? It has to make some independents wonder if Obama were running today, would he even make it to the next round? Is their tent getting so small their last president wouldn’t be welcomed?
The national scene is also reflecting the reality here at home. Vermont Democrats seemed deeply divided this past legislative session between the more moderate and sensible members of their party who highlighted some hard facts of the economic impact of things like the $15/hour minimum wage and Paid Family Leave. But moderates were left wrangling with the more extreme progressive elements who sought to push the policy forward, ignoring its potential impacts.
Added into the mix was the recent Seven Days story that highlighted the fact Vermont Democrats raised less money from regular local donors than the Vermont Republican Party did. As John Walters wrote in this week’s column, “Take away the DNC funds and the giving by officeholders, and the VDP’s take would have been substantially less than the VTGOP’s. That’s something of a shock, given the Dems’ usual fundraising advantage.”
This represents something important about the Vermont Republican Party in 2020. We have more support from rank and file members than the Democrats, and I’m expecting that to translate into stronger volunteering and some potentially powerful and surprising campaigns for the next election. But we still need to recruit. So, please, if you want to talk to someone about the idea of running for office, complete the form on our website and we will have someone reach out to you. Now is the best time to start thinking and preparing to run.
In addition to a cohort of divided Democrats, this week has been a bright ray of hope for the unity of Vermont Republicans. Gov. Phil Scott spoke out earlier this week to support two important federal policies that will benefit Vermonters. The first was to urge our divided congressional delegation to pass the USMCA, the new trade deal negotiated and signed by President Trump. Gov. Scott highlighted the importance to the Vermont economy of trade with Canada, and the new deal would provide help to Vermont farmers who are getting squeezed by current policy.
The second issue was the governor’s support for a federal prescription drug importation program. Last year, Scott was the first governor in the country to sign into law a bill that would allow Vermont to import prescription drugs from neighboring Canadian wholesalers. Then recently, the Trump administration changed an earlier stated position and is now seeking to implement federally the kind of program Gov. Scott signed on a state level.
Democrats are in disarray, and our Republican governor and our Republican president are working together on the same side of issues that are going to bring real benefits to everyday Vermonters without burdening them with higher taxes or restricted choices as the Democrats offered to do at the debates. This has been one of the best weeks I’ve had in my job as your state party chair because the choice between the two parties is becoming crystal clear.
Democrats are tightening their circle, kicking more people off their island, telling certain people of color they don’t need them if they have a differing view and constantly excluding people who are trying to sharpen the debate and improve the outcomes for all Americans, and instead, they stick to the same socialist talking points that work on a bumper sticker but not in real life. Meanwhile, we’ve got Republicans from vastly different views, styles and perspectives who are putting aside their real differences in order to put the people of our country and our state first, to help our people support their family farm, build their tech business or simply buy the life-sustaining drugs their families need at a price they can afford. At every opportunity, Republicans are doing the work needed to bring our country together into a new age of prosperity and peace.
The momentum we are beginning to build is giving me optimism for an even brighter future for what Vermont Republicans can do to help the people of Vermont. Don’t get left behind. Join us today by either making a donation or exploring whether or not you can be part of the solution and run for office.
Deb Billado is the Vermont Republican Party chairwoman.