Daily Archives: March 23, 2016

The importance of diversity: three object lessons

Diversity is a lot more than a liberal feel-good cause, a way to shoehorn visible minorities into public and private institutions just for the sake of it. Or just to disenfranchise white heterosexual men.

When universities argue against affirmative action bans, it’s not because they’re lefties; it’s because they realize a diverse student body (and faculty) makes their institutions stronger.

When I look at a political contest and see two roughly equivalent candidates, I give preference to the woman, the minority, the member of the LGBTQ community, because their perspectives make our politics better.

We have three object lessons from this week’s news, two right here in Vermont, each illustrating the importance of diversity.

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For Bernie, the clock continues to run

The Bernie Sanders campaign had a great night, winning one-sided victories in the Idaho and Utah caucuses.

The Hillary Clinton campaign had a great night, winning the Arizona primary by a substantial margin.

The overall result: a strong positive for Clinton.

In spite of Bernie’s yoooge leads in the caucuses, Clinton comes out of Tuesday night with a slight net gain in delegates*. And that’s the only thing that matters. As good an outcome as it was for Bernie, he needs to do a lot better — and he can’t afford any Arizona-style setbacks.

*True when I wrote this. No longer the case; Bernie picked up a few delegates overall. My point remains the same: Bernie’s running out of time.

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Here’s a man who thinks he can govern

Howard Coffin is an eminent historian, a learned scholar, and a real Vermont treasure.

And he said something really stupid.

The subject was Peter Galbraith’s bid for governor. Coffin was commenting on Galbraith’s, shall we say, checkered record as a state senator.  (Everybody hated him, to put it briefly.)

“I’m not sure that he was put on earth to be a legislator,” Coffin says. “I think he was put on earth to be a leader.”

Yyyyyyyeah. Just like Marco Rubio can’t stand being a U.S. Senator, so let’s make him President.

Here’s the thing. Being a “leader” involves a hell of a lot of negotiating, compromising, dealing with other folks — and particularly trying to make friends and influence people in the frickin’ Legislature.

Peter Galbraith was a heavy-handed, arrogant lawmaker who offended a lot of people and frequently roadblocked the Senate for the sake of some principle detectable only to himself. Those traits are going to be just as unfortunate in a governor — but they’ll be even more impactful. And not in a good way.

Now, if you’re talking about “being a leader” in the Donald Trump sense, then Coffin is dead on.  Otherwise, no.

Enough about that. Let’s move on to Galbraith’s candidacy itself.

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