Amidst the endless parade of articles bemoaning the plight of poor businessfolk who can’t find enough workers to fill their low-paying, no-bennies jobs, let us take a moment to pour one out for the group that has by far the hardest time finding a few good people: The Vermont Republican Party.
You almost have to feel sorry for the VTGOP. They’re so underfinanced and disorganized, so out of touch and few in number, that their every ticket features a frightening quantity of blank slots. They’ll take almost anybody with a pulse who’s willing to step out in public with an “R” next to their name.
Two cases in point today. First, we have Christopher-Aaron Felker, the surprise entry into Burlington’s special election to fill the seat of former councilor Brian Pine. Second, Gov. Phil Scott’s latest nominee to the Vermont Commission on Women.
The Republicans weren’t expected to bother fielding a candidate for the Ward 3 seat, which the Progressives have held for, like, 40 years. Initial reports from Seven Days and VTDigger blithely quoted his own statements that sounded like the stuff you’d hear from a centrist Republican reformer type.
Then came the reaction on Twitter from people who’d been targeted by Felker for digital abuse, and others who recalled his habit of promoting anti-transgender content on social media. These people also noted that Felker had apparently erased his social media presence. VTDigger and Seven Days swung into belated action, posting follow-up stories on Tuesday night. And they are a study in contrast.
The Seven Days piece was thorough. Reporter Courtney Lamdin mined the Internet Archive, a thing that Felker apparently doesn’t know exists, where she found hundreds of anti-trans posts denying that any person can actually be trans because God Don’t Make Mistakes! “We are all created in the image of God, and none of us are born in the wrong body,” he told Lambdin.
The Digger folo was oddly headlined and weirdly incomplete. The headline, “Ward 3 Republican candidate prioritizes infrastructure, police spending,” makes it sound like a normal piece of candidate-background hackery. That’s also how it begins, with a recap of Felker’s policy positions. And then, in the fifth paragraph, it pivots to his social media garbage. But this story, which refers to a Google cache, only reports a fraction of Felker’s stuff — a mere handful of repostings of anti-trans material.
But I digress. Point is, endorsing a guy like Felker is an embarrassing own goal for a city Republican Party that’s purified itself into virtual extinction. Seven Days reported that the Burlington Republican Committee has fewer than two dozen members. If Kurt Wright wasn’t alive, he’d be rolling in his grave.
Next case! On Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Phil Scott announced the nomination of Delaney Courcelle to the Vermont Commission on Women. Ms. Courcelle is a UVM student and head of the Vermont Federation of College Republicans. She was last spotted in these parts getting $1,435 from a national Republican political action committee for conducting unspecified “research.”
She is also, according to the administration’s press release, president of the UVM chapter of the Network of Enlightened Women, described as a “conservative women’s organization with a mission to educate, equip and empower women to be principled leaders for a free society.”
So, feminists are unprincipled and disempowered, I guess?
Courcelle was recently interviewed, for some reason, by the student newspaper at the Bellows Free Academy. The entire piece consisted of her and fellow College Republican Franklin Cody complaining about being ideological outcasts on campus. It’s funny; you’d expect an enlightened woman empowered to be a “principled leader for a free society” to have a little more backbone. It takes guts and commitment to be a principled leader for a free society, and she’s intimidated by a few liberal professors and some students in progressive T-shirts.
She seems like an odd fit for the VCW, which is all about “the nature and scope of sex discrimination and other matters affecting the status of women in Vermont.” Conservatives like Courcelle tend to deny the existence of systemic sexism and racism. Is she going to advance the commission’s work, or is she going to obstruct it?
Let me make it clear, before somebody whines about it in the Comments, that the governor is absolutely within his rights to appoint anyone he wants to the Commission or any other government body. My point, speaking my fellow liberals, is that this is what you get when you allow a Republican to hold the governorship: He’s going to fill the government with Republicans, many of them more conservative than he.
Like the state Board of Education, now featuring a majority of trustees with connections to Approved Independent Schools; and the Public Utility Commission, whose majority is deeply skeptical of developing renewable energy in Vermont.
Elections have consequences. The Democrats’ failure to seriously challenge Phil Scott has consequences. This is one of them.