This commentary is by Paul Dame, chair of the Vermont GOP.
One of the differences between the Democrat and Republican parties is not only our different solutions to the challenges that face us in today’s economy, but more importantly a fundamental difference in how the two parties identify the causes of those problems. Democrats blame bad people, Republicans blame bad policies.
If you listen to most of the Democrat talking points you would hear that we can blame Vladimir Putin, or maybe greedy gas station owners for high gas prices, white cops are to blame for racism, anti-vaxxers are to blame for COVID deaths, parents are to blame for contentious school board meetings, greedy landlords are to blame for high rents, the rich are to blame for poverty and old people are to blame for driving up house prices because they keep living so long and occupying them. With so many groups to blame it’s no wonder so many people seem so angry these days!
Democrats usually see a particular group of people as the problem, so their solution is either to eliminate that person or group of people — or compel them by force to behave differently. That’s why Democrats are becoming the party of punishment. They see every challenge we face as pitting one group against another, and so often their solution is to eliminate, or hinder one of the two groups. They talk about punishing greedy oil companies with an unexpected windfall tax, or punishing cops by removing qualified immunity, punishing parents by calling the FBI on them, or increasing property taxes until fixed-income seniors have to move out of state.
Meanwhile Republicans view the world very differently. We believe that everyone is trying to do the best they can working within the limitations they have. Instead of blaming bad people we look for bad policies that push people in a certain way and try to address the cause of the problem, not just attack the symptoms. We see the clamp down on oil and gas drilling along with the termination of the Keystone Pipeline as a significant factor in high gas prices. Rampant government deficit spending is causing inflation. We see the rental and housing problems as being a policy that drastically restricts supply while demand increases. There isn’t some group of mysterious boogeymen with waxed mustaches plotting our demise. It’s a simple fix that we have the ability to address ourselves, if we only have enough people working together with us to change the policy. We’ve got good people who are just stuck under bad policy.
This means that Republicans can actually offer solutions that reduce the harm and animosity that we are all getting overloaded with in today’s political environment. When Democrats blame groups of people, the only solution is to basically get rid of those people, or somehow disenfranchise them. If a group of people is the cause of the problem, they can’t solve it unless they go after “those people” in one way or another. Meanwhile Republicans offer solutions that can be implemented without pushing anyone out of the conversation. In addition, our policies can sometimes be implemented when we are in the minority, but have enough influence with like-minded independents to make a policy change.
The Republican approach to fixing problems is producing amazing results across the country. Places like Florida, Texas, Tennessee and others are all experiencing strong economic growth and attracting talent from across the country. Meanwhile places like California, New York and Illinois are struggling sometimes just to keep their streets clean and safe. And the 2020 census confirmed what many suspected; people are moving to states where legislatures set good policy, instead of hunting for a new group of bad people.
Vermont is and always has been home to me, and I truly believe there is no other place like it on earth. We do not have a problem with our people here — but we do have a problem with some of our policies and the direction they have been going. For over 20 years Democratic majorities in Montpelier haven’t been able to fix the problems of housing or jobs because they are either unwilling or unable to see that it’s the policies we are pursuing (or fail to pursue) that are the problem.
The Vermont Republican Party is running dozens of candidates for local House and Senate seats to help address this imbalance in power and work to help put every Vermonter in a better place.