Meg Hansen: The fine line between making history and trouble

By Meg Hansen

In 2022, Vermont will become the last state in the nation to send a woman to Congress. We are finally ready to elect a two-year term congresswoman (we weren’t in 2006 when the choice was between Democrat Peter Welch and Republican Martha Rainville). As for electing a woman to a six-year stint in the upper chamber, that is a bridge too far.

Meg Hansen

Meg Hansen

Following his retirement, Sen. Patrick Leahy’s seat will be open after 48 years. Octogenarian Sen. Bernie Sanders naturally believes that 74-year old Congressman Welch should succeed Leahy. But why have Vermont Democrats acquiesced? So long as it is politically advantageous to “Elect Vermont [Democratic Party] Women,” we are besieged with slogans of gender equity and equality. When a once-in-generation opportunity arises, however, women are told to set their sights low. Welch’s electoral popularity and $2 million war chest are insurmountable, period.

That no woman is willing to challenge Welch in a primary ought to dispel any illusion that Vermont is a progressive-left state that champions diversity and inclusivity in politics. The crux here isn’t about the blatant hypocrisy; it is about maintaining hierarchy. Former Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman recently lamented, “The frustrating reality is that, in the past, the successor for high-ranking elected officials has often been predetermined by those in power through using a small network of powerful people and money long before the general public even starts to pay attention.”

That small network of king and queen makers has decided that Welch will be essentially crowned. In contrast, a slew of women will compete with Lt. Gov. Molly Gray (who recently announced her candidacy) for a seat in the lower chamber. The days when women could only speak when spoken to may be gone, but the era in which women only act as allowed is alive and well.

I am unfamiliar with the practice of requiring permission to pursue my dreams. So, I can only imagine how astute candidates may be reassuring themselves that six years will fly by. What’s six years in front of 48? Vermont women will still make history next year — that is, make history without making trouble. Note that women of center-right political persuasions do not figure in the aforesaid history-making calculus. Independent and Republican women do not count to Vermont PBS, VPR, and sundry left-wing activists because our voices undermine their professed monopoly on women and “Vermont values.”

So few Republican women in office

An unprecedented number of women serve in Congress and state legislatures today, but they disproportionately belong to the Democratic Party. In the 117th Congress, women make up 40 percent of House Democrats and 32 percent of Senate Democrats, whereas they account for a mere 14 percent of House Republicans and 16 percent of Senate Republicans. There are 13 Republican women in the 150-member Vermont House of Representatives and none in the 30-member Senate. What explains this disparity?

1. Aversion to identity politics

We on the center-right, as voters and candidates, find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, we do not wish to elect a candidate solely on the basis of gender. We want to judge and be judged on merit. On the other hand, we understand that being a daughter, sister, wife, and mother shapes a woman’s identity and worldviews in diverse ways. A woman’s lived experience informs how she understands problems and shapes the solutions that she proposes.

We can strike the right balance by prioritizing competence, while acknowledging that women bring unique perspectives and make invaluable contributions to public service. Electing principled, capable, and compassionate women is not an exercise in identity politics.

2. Lack of financial support

Women and men are equal partners in the human experience. Both deserve equal opportunity to succeed in politics. Left-wing groups like Emerge Vermont locally and EMILY’s List nationally have been enormously successful in recruiting, training, and raising money for female candidates. (EMILY is an acronym for “Early Money Is Like Yeast” — it raises the dough). Similar resources for Republicans are scarce because the right-wing establishment has not made electing women a priority.

3. Grand Old Boys’ Party

Across the nation, women recount the obstacles and abuse from insecure members of the Old Boys’ Club who insisted that they were unelectable candidates. In deep red states, women are accused of not being conservative enough; in deep blue states, they are maligned as too conservative. The political right tolerates misogyny.

At least one Vermont Republican who is considering a 2022 congressional bid will not run if the Democratic Party nominee is a woman. Is it any wonder that such easily threatened men would kneecap talented women on the right who dare to seek higher office? To be sure, well-adjusted Republican men have long served as strong allies and mentors to women in politics.

An uneasy mix of ambition, opportunism, and genuflection-on-demand forms the currency in Vermont politics. Women who wish to bring transformational change by serving in public office can either obediently wait their turn or trouble-make their own way.

Meg Hansen is a writer and previously led a Vermont health policy think tank. She serves on the Board of the Ethan Allen Institute. She ran for state-level public office in 2020.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Amanda Hirsch and Meg Hansen

16 thoughts on “Meg Hansen: The fine line between making history and trouble

  1. Why are we falling into this trap?

    I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman. I don’t care what skin color you have. I don’t care how old you are. I don’t care if you’re a religious zealot or a heathen. I don’t care whether or not you’re a lawyer.

    I care about your policies, why you hold to them, and your ability to be an effective manager.

    Martha Rainville would have been a great representative. But not because she was a woman.

  2. We will continue to be up the creek without a paddle, If we don’t change our election process and totally get off of computers, where there is easy access for election meddling.

  3. If the VTGOP has not made electing a woman as a priority, this is another opportunity. Democrats decry the fact that Vermont is the only state to have not sent a woman to Congress. Vermonters did show that we put party over principle when we all had the OPPORTUNITY to elect a fine woman with impeccable leadership qualities, Martha Rainville. Meg, if you run for Senate, we will have another chance to reorient our priorities. I will also resurrect my slogan that I had a hand-made sign of when Welch ran against Rainville: “Congress needs another woman, NOT another lawyer”.

    • Pushing gender over merit? We need a vagina more than knowledge of the Constitution and laws? Sounds a lot like a Democrat identity politics bid — stooping to their game is a losing proposition, not a win. That is what the RINOs have done, and hurt our state. Gender should be irrelevant, in a world of equals. Merit and integrity should be what most attracts voters.

  4. Meg, I believe Neil Johnson when he said that it has nothing to with men or woman. I don’t think that playing the girls against boys game will not go anywhere. I do think that Welch’s $2 million war chest is something to keep in mind. I am aware that the RNC spent $3.8 billion in the 2020 election. VT came away with $50.000. I think that the RNC would invest a bunch more in VT if approached properly and if we had good candidates, working together on a plan to move the state forward. The VT GOP IS not the vehicle to get this done. A measly $50 thousand out of $3.8 billion is embarrassing. I can’t help wonder what was done with that money. None of it went to Windsor county candidates. I don’t know about other counties. I know that the RNC will spend a ton in 2022 and the money that they spend will be to improve republican numbers. Meg, the money is there.

    • See they did send massive money, to support our Governor, who publically declared his vote for Biden.

      Biden and Scott are the uniparty, just different sides of the same coin. Now once part of the uniparty you will not be kicked out of the VTGOP. You will be supported. Do you know how hard it is to get kicked out?

      Doctors say, no deaths with proper vitamin D
      Doctors get people walking and home in days on Ivermectin.
      Scott threatens vax passports for healthy, natural immunity pure bloods.
      Australia will put you in detention camps if you don’t vaccinate.

      You want to know what keeps people out of the VTGOP?

      Defending our constitution.
      Defending fre and open elections.
      Defending science.
      Defending free press.
      Putting country over party.
      Most assuredly putting God over country.
      Standing against corruption.

      See now why Meg has zero chance of being elected?

      Ask Keith Stern, he still has a scar on his back from the VTGOP, they had to have an”electable” governor and did everything in their power to stop a good common man from holding office.

      Until the party rids itself of enemies within,……there is no hope currently, they are completely lost, no vision, no plan, no money

      They have no understanding of our problems, many in the party do, but nobody is listening to them. The game is rigged, most certainly in VERMONT.

    • Rich, perhaps 50 years ago this may have been true.

      Meg will get no support from national. Think about this. If the Fed level of GOP was NOT uniparty, why would they let NWO pimps colonize an entire state? A state that is easily defensible, we’re not even a good size city. They could do amazing things for very little money. But they don’t, they haven’t, and they certainly won’t in the next coming years.

      There are many great people within the party, but those pulling the strings are not.

      We need to look at actions, not words. All talk no action is very fitting.

      Vermont needs to save itself. We need a well oiled special forces team that knows we are supposed to love our neighbors and our enemies. There will be 112,704 people at a bare minimum that will give support, time money, votes.

      We should not look to national for support, they are all about money and power, which is their idol and god.

      Vermont can lead the way out of the mess, because we are so deep into the mess it will be where the key, the solutions will be found, God willing.

      Part of our educational problem is we don’t know how to discern, we don’t have wisdom. It’s the situation of knowing the difference between someone who has lied and a liar. It is knowing how to discern the heart of a person or organization. It is having the wisdom to realize fallen men may be pointed in the right direction, King David being a prime example.

      Wisdom, love and ammunition are banned from countries who love power and money, dictatorships. Can’t get it in North Korea. Wisdom, Love and ammunition…..they make a country great.

      There are thousands of people who’ve testified about fraud, what is the national GOP publicaly declaring? Want to know why they aren’t screaming from the roof tops? Because they have used election fraud to get their uniparty members in office too!

      There is a huge difference between uniparty and patriot. We need to know how to tell the difference.

      Meanwhile, top story is our “republican” governor thinks it’s a good idea for VAx passports.

      It’s our Uniparty Governor that thinks it’s a good idea for VAX passports, and the VTGOP is just fine with this, notice how he can to anything against science, our country and our constitution and he’s still welcomed with open arms? Tis the reason Meg will have no support.

  5. When the hand pick successors, it has nothing to do with men or women.

    It’s a rigged system for everyone, don’t take it personally, there are many others that have had to remove a knife from their back within their own party. Just ask Keith Stern….

    Doesn’t matter, what side of the uniparty you are on, right or left. It’s all about power and money.

  6. All of our fossil representatives need to be put out to pasture.. we need new blood
    that’s not polluted in uni party representation.. people who will turn the tide on
    the progressive policy of rule by feelings.. and back to represent with common sense.. You would have my vote Meg but we need 100’s more like you.

  7. I don’t care which seat you run for but please get out their and win for Vermont. The others currently running cannot match your education and intelligence. Old Vermonters like me need you to save our state from it’s current destruction. My grown children need your leadership so they can live in their birth state and thrive. 40 years of democrat/progressive politics has ruined my birth state. I’m old enough to know, I’ve lived through it. Sometimes, people arrive when the are needed. You may be that person. Run and I will sign on to do whatever I can personally to help. Our time is now. TAKE BACK VERMONT should be our battle cry. It has been stolen from us, the people that made it work for generations!

  8. Meg Hanson, Please run and help save Vermont and the Nation !!

    We need someone that’s not afraid to lead…………………

  9. Great article Meg! You should really think of running for Welch’s seat, you would do a great job!! Hell with the machine

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