By Deborah Bucknam
Deb Billado, the chair of the Vermont Republican Party, recently wrote two pieces in support of President Trump. In them, she objected strenuously to the overheated and nationally coordinated rhetoric directed at him by Democrats and their media allies. Good for her. Supporting a Republican president is her job.
Of course, some rushed to criticize her for this, claiming her own rhetoric was divisive and her tone was harsh. Really? How does one respond to unfounded accusations of something as odious as white supremacy and racism, or to assassination fantasies and attempts at overturning elections, in kind and gentle tones?
And if Vermonters were really concerned about the tone of today’s political rhetoric, then why the silence over the last 40 years about Bernie Sanders’ language?
In his mid-1990’s memoir, Sanders called Republicans “crazy,” “wacko,” “berserk,” and the “lunatic fringe.” He called Republican policies “irrational,” “ugly,” “garbage” and “perverse.” According to Sanders’ memoir, Republicans are “selfish, cruel and immoral” as well as “racist, sexist, homophobes, anti-immigrant.”
Sanders’ rhetoric has not toned down. Today, he uses exactly the same words he used a quarter century ago. President Trump is a piker when compared to Sanders’ calumny against tens of millions of Americans.
Not to be outdone, the Vermont Democrat Party just this week told its followers that the President of the United States “incites white nationalism and violence.” Whew! That suggests the 60,000-plus Vermonters who voted for the president in 2016 on the way to becoming violent racists.
None of this is new to the Trump presidency. There were no calls to tone down harsh rhetoric when two Vermont towns voted to arrest President Bush for war crimes, or the Vermont Senate voted to impeach President Bush.
Finally, some have stated that Deb Billado should be focused on local races rather than defending the president. Yet in VTDigger alone over the last five days, there were five anti-Trump commentaries, many with wild claims and ugly rhetoric about the President and his followers — and, of course, no pro-Trump commentaries. Democrats are not concentrating on local races.
So civility goes both ways. Democrat leaders should be voicing their concern at the repugnant language and destructive attacks of national Democrats, state party leaders, and the Vermont Commentariat.
Meanwhile, three cheers for Deb Billado for denouncing the vile and defamatory rhetoric directed at the President of the United States and all his supporters.
Deborah Bucknam is a St. Johnsbury-based attorney and former Republican candidate for state attorney general.