Bernie Lite

Matt Dunne’s first TV commercial is bursting with energy. Upbeat music plays as the candidate faces directly into the camera, and claims the mantle of Bernie Sanders like Linus clutching his security blanket.

What Bernie Sanders started, we need to finish. This campaign is about making Bernie’s vision a reality right here in Vermont.

And then he talks up what may be the least impactful part of Bernie’s vision — a ban on corporate campaign contributions.

Corporations are not people, and they shouldn’t be allowed to buy elections anymore. As Governor, the first thing I’ll do is ban corporate money from politics once and for all.

And, err, that’s it.

I mean, it’s nice and all, but the first thing? Really?

(Also, he can’t do it first thing on his own. He’ll need to convince the Legislature.)

Don’t get me wrong, I’d be happy with a ban on corporate money. But it’s not even the most urgent problem with campaign finance, much less the most important aspect of the Bernie agenda.

The worst aspects of our cash-sopped campaign system are:

1. Plutocrats spending wads of their own cash — not corporate — to influence politics.

2. The Super PACs and other soft-money groups that are barely regulated at all, and get most of their money from the aforementioned plutocrats.

3. Corporate influence in all its forms, from lobbying to lawsuits to astroturf “advocacy groups” to, yes, campaign contributions.

Dunne’s big idea would address a fraction of the third-biggest problem with money in politics. But he presents it like it’s a revolutionary step that would rid our system of corporate influence and restore the people’s trust in government.


Okay, well, maybe this is merely the first step in Dunne’s rollout of a Bernie-style platform. Maybe we’ll see TV ads about single payer health care and free college tuition and a fairer tax system.

Not so far.

I looked over the “Issues” section of Dunne’s campaign website, and found a few ideas ripped from the Bernie playbook, plus a healthy dose of Shumlin-style incrementalism.

On the good side, Dunne favors a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave.

On the “meh” side, he wants to provide universal health care and address the high cost of college — but he’s very short on specifics.

Below that, there are plenty of references to making government smarter or more efficient or tech-savvy, which have been the meat-and-potatoes of every politician since time immemorial. It’s the Googlefied version of “waste and fraud.”

And finally, there are the topics he fails to address at all, such as overhauling Vermont’s unbalanced, antiquated tax system.

Maybe Dunne has strategies for realizing a streamlined, government that can do more with less. But aside from the questionable value of his Google experience, it’s all pretty vague and we’ve heard it before.

So far, none of the Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls has solidified a claim on the Bernie legacy. If Matt Dunne wants his claim to be anything more than hopeful rhetoric, he’ll have to put a lot more meat on his policy bones.

10 thoughts on “Bernie Lite

  1. Al Walskey

    Matt Dunne in calling out the corrupting influence of money in our politics has identified the ROOT cause of the decline of a government of, by and for the people. Matt has NOT been a one issue candidate as you infer. After announcing his candidacy he embarked on a listening tour throughout Vermont. I attended the one held in St Albans.

    Later Matt delivered a strong message at the Bernie rally held at the Champlain Valley Fair Grounds. As a delegate for the town of Berkshire I heard a multitude of issue oriented themes expressed at the Democratic state convention held in Barre. Finally, candidate Dunne took part in a governors forum held on June 12th in St Albans where he answered a series of prepared questions followed by issues submitted by the audience. After the forum Matt was one of the last candidates to leave after engaging one on one with the audience. Most of the events discussed above are available on the Internet for verification.

    The issues Matt Dunne has embraced come from “the people”. Nobody, including Bernie has a copyright on them.

    Phil Scott boycotted this event and as I understand it many others. If a candidate is to be criticized for being “light” it should be Phil Scott.for dissing the very people he hopes to represent. By the standards for lightness you have set candidate Scott is a helium balloon!

  2. Kelly Cummings

    “On the “meh” side, he wants to provide universal health care and address the high cost of college — but he’s very short on specifics.”

    Thanks for highlighting this.

    I think Matt Dunne has the intelligence, compassion and ability to see both of these issues to fruition. He strikes me as a problem solver.

    It is my hope he will give more specifics sooner than later. And, I suspect he will because he seems to understand one of Shumlin’s greatest downfalls was his inability or just plain old lack of desire to communicate with Vermonters about the issues that greatly concerned us. These two issues greatly concern us! Healthcare (actually getting care and not going bankrupt) and higher education are an integral part of a successful life. After all, when you’re healthy and educated, the sky’s the limit!

    As far as incrementalism? I hear you. These are things that are urgent to many families. It is very difficult to be patient with something so important. And even though I understand Matt Dunne’s reasoning to rebuild the trust of Vermonters after the miserableness of Vermont Health Connect, he may just need to find a way to work on both at the same time. And if anyone can do that, I think it may be him. There are good solid reasons to move toward universal healthcare. The health and well being of Vermonter’s being first, and then all those crazy rising budgets which all center around the rising costs of healthcare. If we want lower taxes it is imperative to move, as quickly as possible, to a universal healthcare system.

    In my opinion Bernie Sanders has always fought for the common man and woman. He has cared about and worked towards a Vermont that works for both its people and its businesses. He has always seemed to understand….we can do both. We can achieve a much needed balance. So if Matt Dunne sees Bernie Sanders as an inspiration, in my book….that’s a good thing.

    So tell us more Matt Dunne. After Shumlin, we are hungry for more! We are ready to elect a leader made of strong and honest stuff. Someone who’s got the grit and integrity to really get it done! Someone who won’t sell us out or sell us short!

    I hope that’s you! We’re listening. Talk to us.

    1. Walter Carpenter

      “If we want lower taxes it is imperative to move, as quickly as possible, to a universal healthcare system.”

      Absolutely imperative. In health care, tt’s the only way.

  3. Brooke Paige


    I get invited to “attend” all of the local forums, although only occasionally asked to participate ! One thing that all of the candidates do *(myself excluded) is promise to do all manner of stuff that they will have no authority to do without considerable cooperation from the Legislature. Cancel Act 46, Limit the Legislative Session to three months, enact Ethics reform, Shut Down VHC and the GMCB – mostly noteworthy ideas but beyond the exclusive authority of the executive branch.

    Instead of promising to do their job well, they crow about doing all sorts of other stuff !

    1. Walter Carpenter

      “Shut Down VHC and the GMCB.”

      I agree that we should shut down VHC… in favor of single-payer….but if you shut down the GMCB watch health care costs soar and everyone really start to freak out over high costs.

      1. newzjunqie

        Really??? Well than they’re all asleep at the switch. No wonder Shummycare, VHC & grandiose socialized-medicine experiment & epic fail in VT now one of the more expensive in US plus VT the only one w/fascist model & refusal to allow:
        1. More than 2 providers
        2. Forced to purchase in-state, VT; from state-sponsored health care exchange of third-world quality:

        In part b/c of the GMCB-6 now trainwreck of epic proportion — three senseless monkeys & in typical bureautic fashion, double the cost — add three more to back the other three. Apparently you see no problem with French-fry Al Gobeille obviously between the sheets with UVMMC.
        But one example-there are many more:

        Whether needed or not doesn’t matter — they’d get what they want regardless. And why large number — hundreds of VT doctors — just chose to reject UVMMC-owned One Care ACO & go with another, widely seen as a poor choice, Optum, a health care arm of United Healthcare.

        However, the ones doing the real work have rejected UVM Medical Center, their pillaging of VT & role in failure — monopolistic takeover & ruination of VT health-care system.

        But — of those smaller hospitals, Grace Cottage & Springfield have also made their own catastrophic contributions & there may be others. Largely due to the incentivized takeover of medical practices which has raised the cost & reduced the quality. This all occurred under the watchful eye of GMCB you think is so wonderful. And single-payer proven to be another disaster.

  4. newzjunqie

    If I were voting Dem it would be Dunne. He represents the future whereas Minter is the past, Galbraith horse of a different color, arrogant & dishonest just as Shumlin, same personality disordered chaos follows him, full of surprises & not good ones. Dunne to me represents what could be a dramatically different style plus pretty confident he could put the right ppl in charge to fix the IT & computer problems which have plagued VT b/c he seems to be competent & executive for Google carries weight as their org isn’t going to hire typical VT half-pinters.

    Love his website & adorable family. Just like Scott brimming with optimism just looking at either one makes me smile.

    Buut he would still have to support party platform which personally do not. That said, would have to agree. But I don’t judge him too harshly b/c after all he’s a politician & this is what they do — tap into voter angst or whatever seems to be the cause celebre — and that is one. Not that he’s doing anything bad but obviously not enough & only the gullible public would think it was a huge deal.

    The others are no ball of fire that’s for sure so he’s still ahead afaic.

  5. chuck gregory

    I sent Dunne the entire game about vendor-based campaign finance reform. It’s disappointing that he either didn’t read it or has dismissed it.

  6. Sherman Schman

    Just what does a Google Executive do; other than imply that a Google Executive is some important position?

    1. newzjunqie

      There are a few levels of qualifications for office, executive is only one.
      “Executives” generally require business training at the collegiate level & have lots of responsibilities. Major contributer to companys’ success as in making money-see link:

      Someone who is able to get an MBA, achieve a masters-level of education or higher is not usually a dummy however fools can also be educated. But Matt Dunne does not strike me as being a fool. Nor as someone ambitiously attempting to check off the required boxes in quest for a career in government, which is how I see Minter & Galbraith.

      Most important is decision making which is why presidential candidates with successful governor experience are considered good choices as opposed to lets say a community organizer — Sara palin notwithstanding — there are exceptions to all rules. Governors job is executive as is president.

      No major tech firm will hire executives that do not have aforementioned, ability to work well with others, represent, adapt or mesh with their culture, are the face of a company, hence must enhance company reputation & possess the skill-set & know-how to behave in that context. So people & communication skills also a priority.

      Tech firms are looking for brightest and best. There is much competition, majority are likely cream-of-the-crop. This does not mean that they are better than others with tech skills or that lesser-trained are not also an asset, equally talented & worth to company but major skill-set is different.


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