This commentary is by Paul Dame, chair of the Vermont GOP.
I have been thinking all weekend about what to say about the vandalism at the State House. On one hand, I don’t want to give it more attention than it deserves, or empower that kind of behavior. I really believe that sometimes people do something like this because it’s the only way they know to get attention, or feel like they have made an impact on something. And yet on the other hand I worry that if we don’t stand up to condemn it today, that we may be in store for even worse in the future.
While President Joe Biden did the right thing on Friday by pleading with his supporters to keep their protests peaceful, the problem is that today’s definition of “peaceful” can include “fiery” if you are reporting from a BLM protest. Unfortunately, Biden’s plea was lost in the Big Blue Rage Machine that Democrats have been operating. While Biden might be saying the right things — his party is not following his lead.
So far Molly Gray has been the only Democrat in the entire state of Vermont who has condemned what happened at the State House. Almost every other prominent Democrat, from state Senators Becca Balint and Kesha Ram to Congressman Peter Welch and Senator Bernie Sanders, have been completely silent. All have been quick to decry the Supreme Court’s ruling, but not this local unruliness.
While it’s disappointing to see this kind of stuff happen in Vermont, it shouldn’t be a surprise. All over the country Democrats have been cranking up the rage machine, especially on this issue. They have been encouraging people to hate Republicans, hate the cops, and hate judges. When Sen. Chuck Schumer’s comment about “reaping the whirlwind” is ominously followed by a credible death threat on the life of one of the Supreme Court judges, voters need to consider whether they want to continue to follow the kind of leadership that is followed by a cloud of uncivil activity.
At least part of the reason that over 1 million voters have changed their registration to join the Republican Party is because the Democrats have begun to be defined by the angry mobs that follow them. Most voters — especially Independents — don’t want mobs. But to become a prominent figure in the Democrat party you need to have at least one display of rage, otherwise you become suspect. It has become an incredibly bizarre phenomenon to watch countless Left-leaning voters take the time to set up their camera, record a short video of them shaking and yelling and pounding and swearing (hopefully getting it on the first take) and then log in to Instagram and share it with the world as if rage was a character trait that they were proud of.
This becomes problematic because rage is seen by Democrat voters as a measure of authenticity. One fringe blogger from Vermont’s far left actually criticized the only Democrat in the state who has bothered to condemn the violence and suggested they downplay it, going as far as to suggest that “threats of violence and destruction of property are, if not exactly appropriate, perfectly understandable.” As if to borrow a page from January 6th rioters the author goes on to quote Jefferson’s remark that the “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
This is not the Vermont way. And even if Democrats have taken over our state, and this is the way they are encouraging one another to behave, conservatives must continue to offer voters an alternative to calls for chaos and bloodshed. Unfortunately, the early days of the Pro-Life movement were also filled with violence. But those most extreme members who were attacking and sometimes killing abortion doctors were arrested and sent to prison. And when the more moderate Pro-Life movement embraced the tactics of education, prayer and compassion — we saw public sentiment about abortion begin to change.
Whether we as Republicans, Democrats or Independents are unhappy about abortion, election integrity or police misconduct, we must all realize that resorting to violence and destruction only makes our problems worse, our positions weaker and our state and our people more divided. We must condemn these acts where they occur on every side on every issue — not just when it is politically expedient. We must all work to stop the rage machine. The nature of our functioning democracy depends on it.