Phil Scott Promises the Blandest Campaign In Living Memory

Hey, in case you were waiting for Gov. Phil Scot to let us all know how he would lead the state through perilous times, I’ve got some bad news for you.

That’s right, friends and neighbors, Phil Scott will have no truck with your pesky “issues.” He’ll be busy… [checks thread]… highlighting a foodbank fundraiser, celebrating a pair of blueberry farmers, remembering an early Black ballplayer, retweeting WPTZ’s list of fun things to do in Georgia, and spotlighting Seven Days‘ cover stories about Route 100. He closes that Cavalcade of Oatmeal with this:

While we have so much work to do in Montpelier to help make Vermont an even better place to live, work, and raise a family, we can’t lose sight of all the good that happens every day because of you, the Vermonters, who show up to take care of one another.

Please don’t ask for details about how he’s going to “make Vermont an even better place,” because that would be indulging in “the negativity of election season.”

Christ on a bicycle, how condescending can one man get? Phil Scott aims to find out, apparently.

This is of a piece with his constant complaining about “politics” whenever legislative leaders dare to disagree with him. It’s an ugly side of Phil Scott that he rarely gets called out on, except in these virtual pages.

So what else constitutes “negativity” in Scott’s mind? Talking about policy? Discussing the challenges that face our state and its people? Taking part in debates with Brenda Siegel?

I mean, debates are all about defining differences between candidates. That sounds unpleasant. Instead, let’s celebrate Vermont’s heroic blueberry farmers.

Is this what we’re going to get from our chief executive? Thousand Points of Light bullshit? I guess so.

I’ve been wondering how many debates, if any, Scott would grace with his presence. The over/under is two and a half, but this thread makes me think it might be zero. Siegel is no pushover. She knows the issues. She’d make things uncomfortable, just as she did when she camped out on the Statehouse steps — putting her health in jeopardy — until Scott was forced to do a 180 on emergency housing.

At the time I wrote that visiting Siegel and having a heart-to-heart was a no-brainer for Scott. It’d show his human side, his concern for the marginalized. He’s capable of that. I once saw him wade into a crowd of LGBTQ+ youth at the Statehouse and talk with them in the absence of handlers or state troopers. It was, honestly, impressive. As was his signing of historic gun legislation on the Statehouse steps, mere feet away from angry gun-rights activists.

Maybe he ain’t that guy anymore. You win enough elections and hold high office long enough, you can start believing your shit don’t stink. I’ve seen plenty of this from Scott, especially in the past year or two. In just about every press conference, he gets annoyed by perfectly reasonable questions. His answers often have the air of an adult explaining something to a child.

He does have a point about highlighting the positive. There’s plenty to celebrate about Vermont. But that’s not what public policy is about. It’s not what being a political leader is about. We face monumental issues: climate change, opioids, racism, housing, education, workforce shortages, gun violence, existential challenges to farming and rural communities, state finances that are about to get very tight, and I’m sure I’m missing a half dozen or so.

Running for office is effectively a job interview. If Scott wants to earn our trust for another two years, he’ll have to cut the happy talk and tell us how he will navigate our B.L.S. through some very choppy waters.

Even if he risks “negativity” and descending into “politics.”


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