This commentary is by Paul Dame, chair of the Vermont GOP.
In George Orwell’s famous novel, 1984, one of the many tactics used by the authoritarian government is to systematically undermine the language and many commonly used words. By removing or altering the meaning of words themselves, the range of conversations that could be had were further restricted because words had been eliminated or reconstructed.
Anyone who knows just a smattering of a second language knows that when you don’t have the words — or you are unclear about the meaning of words — it drastically restricts the range of conversations that you can have, and the range of information you have an ability to communicate.
And when those in power are unwilling, or perhaps unable, to affect reality, the next best thing is to merely attempt to shape the perception of reality. If their policies and plans don’t actually make anything better, they still try get support by simply claiming they do.
Abraham Lincoln was once attributed as using one of the greatest examples of this problem in a speech. He has once asked a crowd “How many legs does a dog have, if you count the tail as a leg?” to which the crowd responded “five.” He immediately corrected them, saying “Just because you call the tail a leg, doesn’t mean that it is one.”
This very human and political phenomenon is as old as the story of the emperor’s new clothes.
While many on the right are going after the left’s shifting definitions for the word “woman,” the one that is getting attention right now — and ought to get the attention of Republicans who want to win in November — is the fact that the White House website is now changing the definition of a “recession.”
For decades a recession had been defined as two consecutive quarters of shrinking real GDP. But since the Biden administration knows that a bad economy means a bad midterm for him and his Democrats, they are saying (but not doing) anything they can to make it sound not as bad as it really is — including changing the definition of the word recession.
But changing the definition of the word recession on the White House web page doesn’t change the fact that input costs for every business have gone up, and it’s getting more expensive to manage our household budgets or to operate some businesses. Many companies know it’s only a matter of time before they either have to raise prices, reduce employment, or possibly both. And whether Biden wants to call that a recession or a double plus bad economy, the reality will be unpleasant for most Americans.
That’s why Republicans are looking to take back the House and the Senate in Washington, and why Republicans in Vermont want to make important gains to help Gov. Phil Scott actually do things that will help, instead of just trying to change public perception.
Nationally Republicans know that rising energy prices make everything more expensive and want to not only help support the American economy, but also put pressure on Putin’s war machine by increasing our energy production, at least during this short term supply shortage.
Here in Vermont, Republicans have been working to help older residents on fixed incomes by pushing for a repeal of the Military Pension Tax and putting a stop to new taxes on home heating fuel. While we made some small gains on the pension issue, Democrats put the policy into their party platform but couldn’t deliver on a full repeal — once again showing they are all talk and little action. The same was true for the Global Warming Solutions Act — it was long on talk and goal, but short on actual solutions. And the one solution that was proposed was also vetoed because it would mean an increase on the cost, and a reduction on the supply of home heating oil in a year that already saw other market forces nearly double the price in a matter of months.
For years Democrats have centered their strategy around name-calling. Virtually every Republican (and even some Democrats) are called fascists, racists, bigots, traitors, so often with such little evidence that Democrats have completely destroyed their credibility. Their inability to do the work of governing in a way that makes our lives more prosperous is just another reason many independent voters are going to give Republican candidates a closer look this year.
While the VT Democrat Party engages in reckless and snarky partisan name-calling that even some members of the VT Press see as a stretch, Republicans are gearing up for our Republican Economic Forum next Monday night where our candidates for statewide office in competitive primaries will talk about Republican policy solutions to the top problems facing most Vermonters today. If you have questions that you would like featured, please make sure to submit them on our webpage for the event by this weekend. After that, make sure that you subscribe to our YouTube Channel so that you can catch the live-stream next Monday night starting at 5 p.m.!
We looking forward to this November being a referendum on which party’s candidates will do a better job helping Vermont’s government become more affordable, more accountable and more flexible for a 21st century economy.