Which Side Are You On, VT Dems?

Let the doubts begin! about whether Vermont Democrats really want to defeat Gov. Phil Scott in November.

VTDigger’s Kit Norton reports today that the party is dithering about whether to provide full access to its voter database to its duly nominated candidate for governor.

Full stop. That’s all that matters. I don’t care that the ponytailed pol in question is a longtime Progressive. I don’t care how many loyal Dems are butthurt over the alleged offenses of the Progs — such as daring to win elections that are, I guess, the Dems’ by birthright.

The Dems couldn’t field a stronger candidate than David Zuckerman. They should get over themselves, pull up their pants, and do the right thing.

One of my favorite people in Democratic politics, former executive director Conor Casey, gave the following rationale:

“Until we reach a point where Progressives and Democrats are not running against each other, the Democratic Party also just needs to be cautious with its data and make sure that it stays in the hands of people really underneath the party banner and not a party that is competing against them,” he said.

My advice stands. Pull yer pants up. Sure, you may think it cheeky when Progs run in Dem primaries. And I’d agree with you when Progs do so unsuccessfully and then run as Progs, which they have a habit of doing.

But the Dems are complicit in a system that makes it almost impossible for Progressives to exist purely as Progressives, which I’m sure they’d prefer to do. It’s a duopoly, unless or until we get some form of ranked-choice voting. And the defined-in-state-law primary system is an open one, so Zuckerman ran as a Dem fair and square, just like Bernie. Go ahead and enact a closed-primary system, I dare ya.

Now, I’m sure they will reach some sort of deal with Zuckerman. But it had better provide full access or something very close. And the fact that there’s even doubt about it is disgraceful enough if Democrats want us to believe they’re serious about their agenda.

The hard truth is, there are a lot of Democrats who won’t vote for Zuckerman — and many who will vote for Scott, either because they’re comfortable with him as governor or because they’d rather lose an election than elevate a Progressive to the corner office and put him in position for a Congressional run. (Governor Zuck for Senate in ’24 to succeed Bernie? For some Dems, that’s the ultimate nightmare.) Trade two more years of Good Ol’ Phil for driving a stake through the heart of Zuckerman’s political career? I can see plenty of Dems signing up for that deal.

Which, okay, fine. If you’re such a loyalist or such a centrist that you’re willing to do the dirty, go ahead. But don’t ever come back and try to convince us that you’re actively promoting a small-p progressive agenda — that you’re serious about minimum wage or a robust paid leave program or strong action on climate change or meaningful health care reform or a truly progressive tax system (which we don’t have). Because as long as he’s governor, Phil Scott will remain an obstacle to all those things. To the extent that Democrats enable his re-election, they are responsible for another two years of progressive disappointment.

This week’s maneuverings around cannabis tax-and-regulate are more evidence that Scott is a useful foil for Democrats. In the telling of Seven Days’ Kevin McCallum, House members of a conference committee are insisting on primary seat belt enforcement as part of a pot bill.

They know full well that primary enforcement is a no-go in the Senate and has been for years. And whatever their rationalizations may be, it’s not actually germane to the bill or the issue. Not to mention that, at a time when they tell us that Black Lives Matter and there’s a continuing racial disparity in traffic stops by Vermont cops, it seems wrongheaded to give police another pretext for selective enforcement. Or shall we go ahead and erase the mural on State Street?

One might almost think that House Democrats are deliberately muddying the waters to prevent S.54 from crossing the finish line. Which would be another big assist to Scott; I’m sure he’d rather not face a tough choice on this issue before Election Day.

As a thought exercise and without any attempt at surveying the field, I tried to come up with a number of legislative Democrats who will actually vote for Scott in November. I can get to 20 real easy, and wouldn’t be surprised if the total surpassed 30. Some of those folks are in pretty high positions in House and Senate hierarchies. (For instance, at least three Senate committee chairs, not counting Republican Joe Benning.)

I could be wrong. But I doubt it. If the number is that high or higher, then what does the Vermont Democratic Party really stand for? If they truly believe their agenda is better for Vermonters than Scott’s stand-pat incrementalism, they all need to give Zuckerman their unstinting support effective immediately.

Just as the Democrats are counseling progressives to swallow their pride and get behind Joe Biden. They need to cut the malarkey and take their own advice. Zuckerman’s your candidate. Now fake it ’till you make it.


3 thoughts on “Which Side Are You On, VT Dems?

  1. Floyd Nease

    Zuckerman is our Democratic nominee. He earned it. He needs to be given access to the entire Vote Builder toolbox and database. Now.


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