Friday afternoon I was reading a report on vpr.net about young people entering politics after being inspired by Bernie Sanders. It was a perfectly cromulent time-filler, not particularly long on insight or depth (quotes from only two candidates, no attempt to identify a larger trend).
Near the end came this passage:
Eric Davis, a professor emeritus of political science at Middlebury College, says it’s too soon to tell:
“In this year’s presidential cycle, Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has certainly inspired many young people to get involved in politics,” Davis said. “The question I have, and I believe it’s too early to provide an answer to this question, is whether these impacts of the Sanders’ campaign are going to continue beyond the end of 2016.”
… and my left eyelid started twitching.
I’ve got no beef with Davis, a reliable source for a useful bit of conventional wisdom. But what suddenly struck me and my eyelid is the absolute ubiquity of the same handful of pundits quoted endlessly by Vermont media.
Davis is far and away number one. If someone decides there’s been a little too much Davis, they might make a call to Garrison Nelson. Or Chris “Undiscolsed Conflict” Graff. Or, in the case of Channel 3, Mike Smith and Steve Terry.
(Not to mention VTDigger’s political columnist, Jon Margolis.)
It’s a small punditical pool. And there’s a distinct ball smell about it.
Yeah, they’ve all got wedding tackle.
Time for a VPO Challenge: A crisp new Tubman to the first reporter or producer to find and use a female pundit to opine on Vermont politics.
Is that enough incentive? I mean, really, equity alone should be all the incentive you need. There’s a serious need to expand the pool and represent both of our major genders.
(Hey, if you can find a transgender pundit or two, go for it.)
If you need more evidence, look back at my previous post about our epidemic of sexual assault. Hell, it took me a solid couple of weeks after the VPR Poll to come up with the idea. Might have occurred a lot more quickly to a woman. And she might have a more cogent insight than I, who have never felt the slightest frisson of fear about being raped.
(I’m sure I’ve lived through moments of risk, but I sailed on, blissfully unaware of the fact. And that’s a lot different than having fear as a constant companion in life.)
I realize this is a small state with relatively few political science departments, but there must be somebody.
And if there’s not, then our political science departments had damn well better hire themselves a few women who can research Vermont politics and comment knowledgeably about it.
Between the time I started formulating this piece and when I sat down to write it, I came across a VTDigger story about the primary. And yessirree, there he was again:
Self-financing a major campaign seems to ward off victory. While not inherently a bad idea, it requires just the right set of circumstances to work, along with a dash of good timing, says longtime political analyst Eric Davis.
There goes the eyelid.
Twice, in the same day, on different stories, in different media outlets? That bespeaks a poverty of imagination.
I repeat, I have no problem with Eric Davis in particular, although his sheer ubiquity should prompt concern.
C’mon, media folks. Cast off your tired old Rolodexes — the ones that seem to have no more than a couple of entries for “Vermont political pundit”. Cast your nets wider. Keep on fishin’ until you land someone with ladyparts who can hold her own with Garrison Nelson or Chris F’n Graff.
Vermont politics has a sad enough record on gender equity. The record of Vermont political punditry is even worse.