Daily Archives: October 8, 2020

On Settling

Something I tweeted recently has stuck in my mind, and it relates directly to the choice we face in the presidential election.

I’ve been following politics since 1968, when I was 14 years old and already worried about the prospect of being drafted to serve in Vietnam, and it remains the worst political year of my life. The assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the Democratic nomination falling to Vice President Hubert Humphrey*, the uncontrolled police brutality outside the DNC, the reanimation of Richard Nixon’s corpse and his ultimate election to the presidency — the moment when”The Sixties” ended as a touchstone for social progress and became a lifestyle brand.

*Humphrey was a great liberal politician, but he tied himself firmly to LBJ’s Vietnam policy out of a sense of duty to the administration he served. His legacy was forever tainted by the association.

That was bad enough. But since then, almost every presidential election has been a choice between bad and not-quite-so-bad. There have been only three candidates I felt good about, and two of them had no chance whatsoever of winning. The three: George McGovern in 1972, Fritz Mondale in 1984, and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Otherwise, it’s been a matter of settling for something less than I wanted. Jimmy Carter, Mike Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry. I voted for all those guys, but didn’t feel great about doing so.

But here’s the thing. Is there any doubt at all that we’d be in a better place if we’d elected Carter instead of Reagan? Dukakis instead of Bush I? Gore or Kerry instead of Bush?

No doubt. Absolutely none.

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WCAX Gov Debate: Same Song, Different Verse

The governor,his eyes fixed downward as they were throughout the debate.

The final (IIRC) gubernatorial debate of the 2020 campaign happened Wednesday evening on Channel 3. And it was pretty much more of the same: Fairly polite, well spoken, and a clear contrast between Gov. Phil Scott and Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman.

Style Moment: Zuckerman looked directly into the camera. Scott never did; he looked downward and to his left throughout the debate. I’d say he was fascinated by Darren Perron’s shoes, except he’s done this at every previous face-off.

On substance, Scott spoke of austerity in the service of keeping Vermont as affordable as possible, something he seems to weigh entirely in terms of the tax burden. He downplayed any dramatic new initiatives that might cost money, unless it’s money from someone else’s pocket. The feds, for instance.

He did bring up his “Cradle to Career” concept, as he has done throughout his governorship and his 2016 campaign. Once again he failed to provide details, which he has consistently refused to do. That’s because the basic idea is to raid the Education Fund to pay for more robust efforts in pre-K, child care and post-high school education, and politically that’s a non-starter.

Scott often spoke vaguely about “needing to do more” without any specifics on issues like broadband, the opioid crisis, and making the state (and government) more diverse. On broadband, he again indicated he would depend on a major federal investment to bring the internet to rural Vermont. “We can’t wait for Congress,” replied Zuckerman.

As he did in previous debates, the Lite-Gov laid out a strong progressive slash Progressive agenda.

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