Daily Archives: January 5, 2023

The Best Part of It Was This Guy

After almost an hour of pomp and circumstance (as befits the Green Mountain Boys’ home turf, actually no), Gov. Phil Scott was sworn into office on Thursday and delivered his fourth inaugural address.

We’ll get to all that, but first let’s deal with the highlight of the day: François Clemmons, actor, singer, writer, teacher, the friendly cop in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and Vermont treasure, singing the national anthem with joy, spirit, and power. Good stuff.

(Skip to the 28th minute and enjoy.)

As for the inaugural… on the Phil Scott “Meh” Scale, it was… slightly better than “meh.” He laid out a series of issues that went beyond the usual stuff about workforce and demographics. Oh, those things were in there too, but so were climate change, housing, the opioid epidemic, mental health, and “accountability” in law enforcement. (Trigger warning: His vision of that issue comes straight out of the law ‘n order playbook.)

There was a blessed lack of snide remarks about those who disagree with him, but his customary implication that “working together” means abandoning your ideas in favor of his.

The unifying message of the speech was that we must do more to help rural Vermont catch up with the bigger communities in quality of life and economic opportunity. As I listened to him, I started to realize something: This is a false dichotomy.

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The Inaugural Address You Won’t Be Hearing

Gov. Phil Scott will deliver his fourth inaugural address Thursday afternoon. It’s likely to be another boilerplate session full of the same ol’, same ol’. Here’s the speech he ought to give, but won’t.

My fellow Vermonters, here we are again. My thanks to the voters who gave me their overwhelming support. I am humbled by their trust in my leadership.

These same voters gave the Democratic Party unprecedented majorities in the Legislature. This result may seem baffling from the outside, but I believe the voters were sending a strong and clear message: Get together, figure it out, and act with the interests of Vermonters above all other considerations.

I can claim a mandate. So can legislative Democrats. We should not argue about whose mandate is more meaningful; we should accept the obvious decision of the voters that we must work together to make Vermont a more livable, prosperous, and dynamic place. A better place to live, work, and raise a family. A place doing its best to battle the effects of climate change and environmental degradation. A place where every Vermonter, regardless of circumstances, can live secure, productive lives.

Right now, working together is more important than ever. We face many challenges that present both peril and opportunity. We can’t waste time and energy sniping at each other. Working together means fighting for principle but always listening to the other side, and being open to the idea that your idea might be better than mine.

At times, I have fallen short of that standard. As you all know, I own the all-time record for gubernatorial vetoes. Sometimes a veto is necessary, but every single veto represents a failure to work together and be open to ideas that are not my own.

From this day forward, I commit myself to a new era of cooperation across party lines. An era where we won’t just talk about bipartisanship, we will live it every single day.

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