Meg Hansen: Steelmanning the right and rejecting historical revisionism

This commentary is by Meg Hansen (MBBS, MA), the former executive director of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, a health policy think tank. She ran for state-level public office in 2020.

What compels one to elevate his amour propre by tearing down others of whom he knows nothing? Bill Schubart formerly chaired VTDigger’s parent organization, admittedly votes for Democrats, and can afford to retire in Vermont. As a self-professed opinion writer, he deigns to read right-leaning Vermonters so that he can cultivate informed views. Yet, all his pontification about the right entails straw man fallacies and a distorted rewriting of the state’s political history.

Meg Hansen

Meg Hansen, former executive director of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom

How many Republican town or county meetings has Schubart attended in the last decade? How many right-of-center grassroots advocates does he know? What conversations, if any, has he had with mom-and-pop business owners, truck drivers and working class parents that do not vote as he does? Only one with no grasp whatsoever of the right in Vermont would call it a “ragged remnant.” Visiting websites is no substitute for heart-to-heart conservations with Vermonters whose aspirations and concerns are ridiculed or ignored by the chattering classes. Rather than misrepresenting in order to malign, as Schubart does, I urge the Reader to employ the “steel man” technique and consider the strongest form of the right’s positions.

Climate change denial is a straw man; the disagreement is over climate alarmism

While mild climate change has been demonstrated, there is no evidence of catastrophic climate events from anthropogenic causes. Alarmist scenarios, such as the world ending in 12 years, originate from computer models that have failed to predict any catastrophic occurrences. It is easy to post-dict events, but earning credibility requires the accurate prediction of climate catastrophe.

Further, climate alarmism conflates all human impact on nature with pollution. The right argues for improving livability and preserving the environment through development. Technological advances enable us to minimize air, soil and water pollution as well as maximize safety from severe weather — making the world cleaner and safer.

Every living US citizen should be able to vote once in an election

While the talking heads obsess over rights, they overlook the requisite other half — responsibilities. President John F. Kennedy, an independent-minded liberal, challenged us to ask what we could do for our country. Indeed, the right to vote comes with the responsibility to vote. Voting enables American citizens to elect our representatives in our constitutional republic. It is the only avenue through which hundreds of millions of citizens that possess no public platform can make their voices heard. Safeguarding every U.S, citizen’s vote informs the right’s desire to fortify this unique political mechanism.

The right advocates for struggling Americans

Compare the biographies of state legislators on the right versus the left. The right in Vermont represents the struggling middle and working classes by advocating for prosperity. It does not appeal to bureaucrats with cushy state-related employment, the lingering remnants of Big Business, or wealthy retirees and trust fund beneficiaries — thus explaining the right’s minority status. Why portray the goal to uplift American citizens as an anti-immigrant stance?

Vermont is not limited to the growing northwest region of the state. Southern Vermont (my home) and the Northeast Kingdom have been languishing for years. Don’t blame the weather or geography. Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming are predominantly rural and colder than Vermont, yet these states have thriving economies and record high in-migration. A web of anti-growth policies have caused systematic deindustrialization (walk around Springfield and Windsor for a glimpse of the devastation), driven out businesses and created crony capitalist monopolies (e.g. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont), and hiked up real estate prices so that there is a perpetual scarcity of affordable houses and near-absent homeownership for the non-wealthy. The left’s six-decade governance of Vermont has borne these fruits.

Prejudice knows no political party

The former Waterbury Public Library director, a white woman, sent me an unsolicited email in which she lauded herself as an ally to people of color while berating me for having failed my kind. She added that I am unfit to run for public office. Recently, an editor at the Bennington Banner called [my views on masks] “dangerous.” Neither is a Republican.

The governor’s 2020 primary opponent ran with a lieutenant governor candidate who stooped to sleazy smears because I am not a “native Vermonter.” The governor’s proxies were not far behind. The RNC committeeman went beet red in the face and verbally assaulted me for asking him to clarify a professional conflict of interest. It is wrong to paint vast swaths of the population with the same brush stroke of bigotry. Damaged people can be found across the political spectrum. The charge lies not with entire groups, but with the individual who should be held responsible for his/ her behavior.

Conservative politics is as old as the hills in Vermont

Division amongst Vermont Republicans is not a new phenomenon, and that the left has used it to its advantage is not new either. Historically, the pro-growth, conservative Proctor wing and the anti-Proctor wing (known as the Aiken-Gibson wing after World War II) were mired in internecine conflict. The latter was named after left-leaning (“progressive”) politicians George Aiken, Ernest W. Gibson and Ernest W. Gibson, Jr. Many Vermont Democrats supported the Aiken-Gibson wing and used the open primaries system to defeat Proctor wing candidates.

Members of the conservative Proctor wing played an indelible role in shaping Vermont. Erasing these formidable actors from history to uphold yesteryear’s left-wing Republicans as the only legitimate political right is biased revisionism. The right in Vermont has never been a monolith and has always included conservative intellectual thought and grassroots advocacy. No amount of hateful harangue, fear-mongering about bogeymen, or assault from the left and left-leaning GOP politicians will ever delegitimize or deracinate it from the Green Mountain State.

Images courtesy of Town Meeting TV and Meg Hansen
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5 thoughts on “Meg Hansen: Steelmanning the right and rejecting historical revisionism

  1. True, Bill Schubart is so partisan he isn’t even worth reading any more. He pretends to be openminded but, he really isn’t. “I read True North Reports, he says. What a load of crap. He’s become a bore.

    And, the nasty name-calling that happens on this site isn’t worth reading either.

  2. So the “revisionists”, aka sophists, aka spin doctors, aka wordsmiths, aka LIARS

    See the the great article in Vermont Digger about EB-5? Seems to demonstrate how corrupt our little state truly is. What of reporting here? If someone digs a bit deeper I suspect they will find even more corruption. Does one think Leahy did not know? That ther weren’t discussuons? How did the banks just buy their way out first thing, hoping money would “take care of the problem”.

    Revisionists? How about Ms. Molly Gray? Who didn’t qualify for the very fair and inclusive requirements to hold the office of Lt. gov? Yet those within the highest positions of the VTGOP did nothing? The press again did nothing, well nothing and provide cover for the little “darling of Vermont”.

    We have only seen the tip of the corruption iceberg called business as usual in Montpelier. Yet the press, the political parties will wax poetic about how great they are, all while sporting a d- in ethics.

    The manure pit seems to be overflowing, not sure that is what’s meant by, thy cup overfloweth.

    p.s. Look at how well everything has been covered up with eB5…..it’s been seven years+ and the only reason any of this is exposed is not from the efforts of the press, despite their bestt efforts, but from a lawsuit of the investors. Otherwise ALL this corruption would have been covered up. Think about that 1/2 a billion dollar fraud scheme could have been just swept under the rug. If they just could have gotten past this sentencing, they might have gotten away with it., …they may still, Washington winds are blowing in their direction.

    Lord help us please, in Jesus name I ask and pray.

  3. Speaking of Bill Schubart, I wrote to him the other day about his VTDigger.org commentary trashing Republicans that Meg Hansen has cited.

    Below is the letter I sent him in response to his commentary… There has been no response from him……Guess he’s not interested in defending his attack on Republicans or rebutting what I had to say about the Democrat’s constant name calling that has terribly divided this great nation……It is interesting to note that someone with usually so much to say including negative comments toward the right, remains silent when his thoughts are challenged…….Do you think we’ll hear anything from Mr. Schubart?

    Bill: 9/25/21

    I just read your “The sad remnants of Vermont’s Republican leadership” commentary on the VTDigger and the first thought that came to mind was “Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

    If you elect to define the Republican Party by what it opposes…….Then it’s fair to define the Democratic Party by its propensity to unjustifiably divide this country to gain political power. Over the last several years we have witnessed Democrat leaders and others on the left label Republicans as racists, sexists, xenophobes, homophobes, deplorables and more.

    These charges have come from Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and other top Democrats from the top to the bottom of the Democratic Party. This has been shameful behavior that has deeply divided and hurt this nation. Your own words in your commentary ascribing racism to Republicans based on concerns with illegal immigration is another example of dividing by name calling.

    There are plenty of other nasty behaviors and positions that define the Democratic Party as dividers and more. It’s not necessary to go into them as they are easily discernible, known to the American people and will likely be fatal to the Democrats in the 2022 mid-term elections.

    At this point in time we have a Democrat President who has managed to foul up just about everything he has touched in his first eight months in office…. President Biden’s disastrous job performance, propensity to blame others for his own failures and his questionable cognitive ability represent a critical national issue that you may want to address in you next commentary.

    Peter Yankowski

    • I commented over on the Daily Chronicle about this windbag. They only preach to themselves and hang together because most normal people can’t stand to be around these so-called elite morons. Vtgravedigger had to stop the comment section because the left was triggered by conservative comments and common sense. So now this guy, one of the owners can bloviate in a commentary in a fish wrapper news site without the fear of rebuttal. The motto over there should be “In pursuit of censorship, fake news and all things liberal”. Great comment and letter, Peter. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a response.

    • Excellent and respectful email to Schubart, Mr. Yankowski.

      Don’t expect a response from him. It’s Digger’s style.

      I particularly appreciate your reference to Dems calling others racist for not supporting illegal immigration.

      Name-calling is nothing more than a silencing tool.

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