In the category of “No good deed goes unpunished,” we find Shayne Spence, former Ethan Allen Institute minion and wannabe filmmaker, who’s now running for House as a “Progressive Republican” in a district currently served by two Democrats.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, I suppose. But that’s not why he’s the subject of tonight’s sermon.
(Said meeting, by the way, is being held at the Hilltop Inn in Berlin. Yep, an in-person meeting. Smart. I wonder if attendees will wear masks and maintain social distancing, hahaha.)
Spence’s resolution would commit the party “to the necessary work of confronting racism in all its forms,” including self-examination and endorsement of anti-racist policies in law enforcement, criminal justice, education, and economic policy. By Trump-era Republican standards, it’s a pretty ambitious statement. One might question whether Spence is sincere in this effort or if he’s trying to substantiate his belated conversion to “Progressive Republicanism.” But it did take some courage to write and promote this. He deserves credit.
In his thread, Spence tells a tortured tale of how the resolution was submitted on June 19, followed by “radio silence” from party leaders for a few weeks. Eventually the party’s rules committee voted to include Spence’s resolution in the meeting agenda — and that’s when Spence began receiving nasty attacks from party members, some urging him to withdraw the measure. Ultimately, despite the rules panel’s approval, the resolution was taken off the agenda.
Spence’s conclusion: “It appears the @VTGOP has avoided having an uncomfortable and very important conversation.”
Well, sure. But they not only avoided an uncomfortable conversation — they avoided the raw, naked embarrassment of a floor debate full of racist rhetoric and the even worse spectacle of the resolution being voted down.
Which is exactly what would have happened. The leadership of the VTGOP is dominated by very conservative, pro-Trump Republicans. Gov. Phil Scott washed his hands of the party after they rejected his nominee for party chair in 2018. He has said over and over again that he’s going his way and the VTGOP is going theirs.
I’ve been to those meetings. I’ve seen QAnon-style conspiracies touted from the floor — and from the podium. Without comment or objection from anyone present.
This is a party that’s gone through an unconscious purification process, as any moderate Republicans who still exist have distanced themselves from this bunch of yahoos.
If Spence’s resolution had gone before them, he would have been shouted out of the room. And the state committee would have overwhelmingly rejected a perfectly reasonable anti-racism resolution.
And the governor would have had to answer uncomfortable questions about the party he will once again represent on this year’s ballots.