You have to feel a little bit sorry for Deb Billado, chair of the Vermont Republican Party. She’s been working hard for three years now, trying to build a functioning machine out of spare parts and duct tape. But her Trumpian worldview makes her an ineffective advocate for the kind of fiscally conservative, socially moderate organization the VTGOP needs to be.
Now it’s all coming apart, thanks to the January 6 insurrection triggered by President Trump. While Republican Gov. Phil Scott came right out with a call for Trump’s removal from office, Billado issued a statement condemning the violence without mentioning the President at all.
On Tuesday, Billado issued another statement, this one urging people not to take part in a January 17 Statehouse rally in support of Trump. She began, oddly, with this:
It has come to my attention through various vague media reports that there is a rumor of some kind of protest planned at the capitol building in Montpelier this weekend.
“Vague media reports”? “Rumor”? “Some kind of protest”?
Good grief. This is no secret, no mere rumor. I’ve seen poster-style illustrations about an armed “Stop the Steal” Sunday rally. I guess she just can’t bring herself to admit that many of her fellow Trumpistas pose a danger to democracy, even after the events of January 6.
She went on to urge Republicans not to participate — not because such a rally is an open invitation to violence, but for tactical reasons:
For years gun rights groups have been able to demonstrate peacefully, often times exercising their right to bear arms and it has never, ever been a problem. But doing so this weekend may ensure that it happens for the last time. We face a near super-majority of Democrats in the VT legislature and one tragic event could be all that separates us from measures that would otherwise be unprecedented and unnecessary.
This sounds a lot like a red-hot conspiracy theory making the rounds: The people calling for protest are not Trump supporters, but leftists mounting a false flag operation. Here you go:
The basic idea being that any violence that takes place in the next few days will provide a pretext for cracking down on conservatives and taking their guns away. Oof.
The day after that statement, a bunch of fed-up Republican lawmakers went public with a call for the resignation of Billado and any other party official unwilling to cut ties with Trump. No immediate response from VTGOP’s headquarters in a secure underground bunker.
Okay, so every Friday, Billado issues a newsletter to the party’s email list. I was waiting for this week’s edition to drop, because surely she’d have to respond to the raging fire in the VTGOP house. Right?
The newsletter boasts of Orange County electoral victories in November.
Now, maybe she sees the weekly blast as a forum for encouraging the party faithful, not for addressing controversies. But completely ignoring the quickly-widening fissure in party ranks?
“Tone-deaf” is the only thing that comes to mind.
Billado’s in a tight spot. Her beliefs wouldn’t allow her to call for Trump’s ouster. The party’s other top officials feel likewise. And if she were being absolutely honest, she’d probably say that her friends and the Republican National Committee have been keeping the party together while the moderates have stayed out of the fray.
Which they have, but only because they see an organization completely taken over by hard-core Trumpers.
I don’t know how this is going to end. But I know it’s not going to end well.