I’m a (liberal-leaning) moderate and I am here to complain.
The ideological battle between right and left seems to rage everywhere, including here. Common sense and common decency are the casualties, along with truth.
The true ideological believers have endless energy and quite a lot of blind hubris. Just one case in point: Deb Billado wrote July 25 in the News & Citizen that she visualizes a bright-red Vermont. Good grief. We should join Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia and the other bright-red states? It ain’t gonna happen. Has the chairman of the Vermont GOP looked at the statistics on income, poverty, suicide and educational level, among other social indicators, in the reddest states? They paint a very ugly picture of the environment of GOP control of legislatures.
We don’t want to follow the bright-red states. She made a losing argument from the start. Given the Trumpification of the GOP with all of its disgusting cultural consequences, she is on thin ice selling that product here.
But — in the 40 years I have lived in Vermont, most of the time we have had either moderate Republican governors or the moderate Howard Dean, who actually drove the progressive left crazy. Many otherwise quite blue states have popular Republican governors.
There is a reason for this. Vermont is not actually the progressive caricature we sometimes seem to be. I like Phil Scott. I voted for him and will continue to and I will vote for moderate Republicans in the tradition of Scott, Douglass and Snelling. That does not mean that I like the ideas of the national GOP. I generally loathe many of them. But I want some balance and some economic realism here at the state level.
I grew up in the 1950s and ’60s in a very liberal family and my heart is still in the civil rights movement, the environmental movement, and the antiwar movement. My heart is still in the ’60s. But I took economics courses in college and I don’t share the progressive enthusiasm for the Scandinavian model that has taken over the Democratic Party. Economists don’t call the Scandinavian model socialism; they call it the “advanced welfare state.” The advanced welfare state is a losing issue in the U.S. in a general election. Even if one were to be elected, a progressive president could not get his/her promises into law and would be swept away in the next election. Anyhow, that is my opinion.
As an aside, actual socialism, the real Marxist socialism, swept Europe following World War II and stayed for several decades, making those countries poorer. That experiment has long ago been dismantled because it did not work, not even socialism-light.
People like me do not want to follow bright-red Alabama, and we also don’t want a suicidal attempt to impose the advanced welfare state model of Sweden or Denmark on America. I am not among the confused people accusing the progressives of being Marxists, but it’s a mouthful to say Advanced Welfare Statists, so other, pithier, phrases get used, inaccurately.
I, as a moderate, am all for being a bit purple, some kind of sensible, competent alternative to the ideological crusades with their fantastic simplistic answers to complex problems that the party activists have chosen as the hills they wish to die on, while splitting America into two armed camps.
There are a lot of people like me. That is why states like Montana, Virginia and Arizona have Democratic senators and Vermont, Massachusetts and Maryland, along with some other very blue states, have popular Republican governors, in spite of the disastrous nature of the national GOP.
When the national election results are analyzed, guess whose support usually decides the issue? Moderates. Lots of us want common sense and common decency and do not have any enthusiasm for the cultural collision that many of the leaders of both parties are taking us toward.
So, I am constantly horrified by current political events from all sides and I have shut out most of the news. How many want to see president Very Large Brain re-elected and have, among other things, an utterly conservative Supreme Court with all its consequences? I don’t!
I am surviving a brush with cancer with more equanimity than I am surviving the cultural program of our Very Stable Genius president. I am hopeful that in the primaries the price tags and actual consequences of the big progressive promises will become known and the Democrats will choose a moderately liberal candidate.
I realize that some people I know are probably going to be shocked at my opinions, shocked that I am not a progressive. So be it.
Finally, moderates out there, be as quiet as mice most of the time if you wish, but vote! Vote, most especially, in primaries.
Ian Robertson lives in Wolcott. Email letters to email@example.com.