Editor’s note: This commentary is by Deb Billado, chairwoman of the Vermont GOP.
Vermont Republicans believe in one nation under God, individual liberty, personal responsibility, limited government, compassion for the needy, low taxes, a free market economy, and local control…While individual Republicans may hold diverse opinions in some areas, such differences should not deflect from advancing the principles that unite us as a party. — VTGOP Party Platform
The Vermont Republican Party Platform illustrates who we are as a party, and the shared values we hold dear. Our commitment is to a strong economy bolstered by low taxes and a free market; limited government and the maximization of local control; individual liberty checked only by personal responsibility; and compassion for the most vulnerable Vermonters.
These values are time-tested to be true and successful. They have made this country the best example of what unhampered individual ingenuity can do to lift millions out of pov
erty. They are precisely the values that the founders envisioned when they drafted the Constitution. And they have made the United States the shining example that others around the world have looked to for inspiration.
Our shared commitment to these values are what unites us, even though we may not always agree on every single policy issue. As President Reagan said, “My 80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy.” In fact, policy-specific disagreements among Republicans should be welcomed and seen as an opportunity to not only learn from alternative viewpoints, but also to strengthen our own arguments and gain a better understanding of why we hold to our particular beliefs. They challenge us to provide better evidence for what we do believe, and strengthen our commitment to what we hold most dear.
As long as we share these commitments to our core values, with an understanding that individual-level policy disagreements will occur, the Republican Party will enhance its electoral standing. In fact, we’re seeing the Democratic Party fall apart precisely because of this lack of unified values. At the national level, the “new wave” of radical liberals are pushing out the old “blue dogs” because they’re not “progressive enough.”
If the Democratic Party wants to destroy itself from within, then let it. We should certainly have no objection to that. But as Republicans, we must remain committed to the values that bring us together while respecting the individual differences we may have. Only through this path can we achieve not only electoral success, but also the best possible outcomes for Vermonters.
Let me be clear. While we will have policy differences, the key to whether those differences are embraced by the VTGOP depends on their connection to our requirement of “personal responsibility.” We have seen the Democrat party moving from a position just two years ago that marijuana was a “health and mental health issue,” to unanimous adoption by their platform committee to make commercialism of marijuana a top priority. The Democrats have already managed to implement a statute that allows for unrestricted abortion even in the third trimester of pregnancy. Both positions are not endorsed by our platform and fail to meet our requirements for personal responsibility and caring for the most vulnerable in our society.
If Republicans do not stand for what is right, then there is no reason for them to stand at all. Our rich history requires us to respect our Republican heritage and to provide a reason for people to engage in the political process because it gives them something to believe in.