There seems to be a popular delusion among Republicans in these parts, even the non-fringey types. In the words of outgoing Rep. Heidi Scheuermann,
…the Progressives have taken over the VT Democratic Party.
This same belief was expressed a few months ago by VTGOP Chair Paul Dame, when he compared the Progressive Party to a parasitic horsehair worm that had taken over the Democratic Party from within.
Outgoing Sen. Joe Benning said much the same thing in his post-election post-mortem: “Ideologues in the Democratic/Progressive supermajority,” he wrote, are driving policy that “runs counter to Vermont traditions and fiscal capacity.” At least he put the Democrats first, but still he’s conflating the Dems and the Progs in a way that’s far from the truth. The two parties sing from different hymnals on many of our most contentious issues, and the Dems always sit in the right-hand pew. Top Democrats are fond of styling themselves as small-P progressives, but they are definitely not the capital-P kind. Not at all.
I don’t doubt that these Republicans believe what they’re saying, but it shows how ignorant they are about left-wing politics in Vermont.
Receipts, we got receipts. Here are some passages from the Progressive Party’s platform. You tell me if they’re controlling the narrative on any of these issues.
Social Justice: …an end to the use of private and out-of-state prisons; strong safeguards against the disproportionately high incarceration rates of populations most vulnerable to discrimination; and a reduction of incarceration in general.
The Dems give lip service to all those ideas, but there’s been no substantial action on any of them. And it’s not because Gov. Phil Scott blocks the way. The Dems have never seriously pursued any of these reforms, and they didn’t when the governorship was in their control.
Government Reform: We insist on publicly-funded elections with comprehensive campaign finance laws.
The Dems have done nothing there. They’ve enacted some good voting reforms, but little to nothing on campaign finance. And they won’t, because in Vermont the current system benefits them because of their superior fundraising reach.
Economic Justice: We believe Vermont needs a progressive tax system where wealthier Vermonters pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than low to moderate income Vermonters.
Nope, sorry. Our system is moderately progressive, but it could move much farther in that direction. Last I checked, the middle and upper middle classes pay a higher percentage than anyone else.
Health Care: …we support universal, single-payer, prenatal-to-death healthcare provided through a not-for-profit, publicly financed system, with access to prescription drugs, dental care, vision care, hearing care, and mental health services.
Hahahaha. The Democrats have stayed away from major health care reform since Peter Shumlin folded his hand in 2014. They haven’t even tried to push universal primary care, let alone resurrect the corpse of Shumlin’s plan.
Education: …a strong and equitable Pre-K to 12 public education system funded with a progressive tax structure, and tuition-free public post-secondary education is an essential foundation to foster civic participation in a democratic society.
It’s hard to evaluate something as generic as “a strong and equitable…public education system,” but we don’t have a progressive tax structure for school funding and tuition-free post-secondary education doesn’t get a sniff.
Housing: …a safe, stable, and affordable housing is the right of every Vermonter
Yeah, sure. We’ve got Ann Pugh, the outgoing Democratic chair of the House Human Services Committee, talking about “splitting the baby” on housing the homeless because we can’t afford to shelter them all. For those who don’t know the Biblical reference, King Solomon proposed cutting a baby in half so the real mother would show herself. For “real mother” read advocates for the homeless, who are just trying to limit the damage instead of fighting for universal access.
Housing as a right? The Progs ain’t getting anywhere with that one.
Energy: We support sustainable alternatives to carbon-based energy. We believe Vermont should be powered with safe, clean, renewable, and publicly and locally owned energy resources and utilities.
This is another case of Democratic lip service. They’ve been spooked by the small-in-number but very loud opponents of large-scale renewable energy. As for “publicly and locally owned” energy projects, well, that sounds like Socialism to me.
There you have it. If the Progressive Party is the tail wagging the Democratic dog, they’re doing a piss-poor job of it. In truth, the Progs try to pull the Dems incrementally to the left. Their track record on that limited tactic is mixed at best. If you told a Progressive that their party runs the joint, the response would likely be a bitter laugh.
Parasitic worm? More like a gnat on the Democrats’ ass.