Opinion: Phil Scott in an age of identity politics

By Michael Miley

This week the national media has run countless stories about the Vermont gubernatorial primary election. The common thread throughout was a focus not on the issues facing Vermonters, but rather on the particular nature of the candidates running. They focused on Christine Hallquist, who is transgendered, and Ethan Sonneborn, who is 14 year old. It’s an old pastime for the media to poke fun at Vermont elections, since they often feature several sincere but eccentric candidates, but this election there was no clear Democratic choice for governor, and Hallquist’s primary win was mostly unexpected.

Lou Varricchio/TNR

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott

This election will be known as the triumph of social and identity politics. With Hallquist in the race, the liberal media can spin the upcoming general election as a “transgendered person bravely facing the archetypal feckless straight white male” incarnate, Gov. Phil Scott. It appears the Democrats are using this election to test a potential strategy to use against Republicans now, and against Trump in 2020. Indeed, the large photo on the front page of the Drudge Report last Tuesday night was a picture of Hallquist, with a sign saying, “The blue wave starts here.”

And so it shall, because even if Phil Scott wanted to have an open and frank conversation about the substantive measures that need to be taken to address the hard questions facing Vermonters, he wont be able to. The media will pressure him into refraining from any serious discussion or debate about Hallquist’s positions, calling her potential election “historic” and “symbolic.” When was the last time you heard the media use those words in the same sentence as Phil Scott?

So, as the Vermont GOP struggles to find an identity among conservatives and liberals both enamored and repulsed by the seismic force that is President Donald Trump, the Democrats have presented themselves as being representative of all sorts of different minority identities: racial, sexual, spiritual, etc.

This very well may be a winning strategy in Vermont, where many people may not only tolerate the idea of a transsexual being governor, but in fact support it enthusiastically. In the rest of the United States, this strategy may not be as effective. Using Vermont as a test case for their larger political narratives, the Democrats have once again shown how completely out of touch they are with most voters angry about losing more and more control over their children’s education and having their gun rights eroded away.

There are a sizeable group of Republicans and Democrats who, nonetheless, oppose gun control measures and share a common concern over the size of the state government. This group was mostly represented by Keith Stern, and also state Sen. John Rodgers. Rodgers, a Blue Dog (i.e., conservative-leaning) Democrat, is a strong supporter of gun rights who emerged to statewide prominence in the wake of Scott’s signing into law sweeping new gun control measures last May. Scott handily won the GOP primary against challenger Keith Stein, but if enough conservatives are still seriously turned off by Phil Scott, the political heft of the Burlington and Montpelier elite may very well turn out to be enough to make Hallquist governor.

As things stand now, the GOP is stuck between betraying its principles for a larger share of the state’s more left-leaning votes, or giving up control of the executive branch. It is not a noble strategy by any means, but it is moderately effective; while Phil Scott did enjoy broad Republican support in the 2016 election, he also had the support of these same Blue Dog Democrats as well. It is a question if Scott can win back the trust of these voters.

Michael Miley is a guest columnist. He lives in West Burke, Vermont.

Image courtesy of Lou Varricchio/TNR
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14 thoughts on “Opinion: Phil Scott in an age of identity politics

  1. Phil Scott, why did you do this to us! All you had to do was stand firm on any erosion of the second amendment and we would have been happy. For many of us guns are issue number one. The one thing that made Vermont politically tolerable. Now Dave “Christine” Hallquist is in the race to finish off a downward spiral on guns that YOU started. We had it good Phil! Let me guess….next session it will be illegal to have a gun rack and an NRA sticker on a Volvo. This state is starting to stink completely. I’m NOT going to vote for you and I ain’t happy about it! When you lose….you had it coming and your a creep for bringing the rest of us down with you.

  2. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, we have a primary race that once again tipped the scales heavily towards an even more liberal/socialist base in Montpelier. Phil Scott’s base was betrayed on the gun control bill…. the Dem’s found out that they had a “sucker” on the line and reeled him and and played him shamelessly to their advantage.
    If he had maintained his pledge of no new gun laws he would have fared decidedly better in the primary with the backing of an overwhelming pro gun base (100K+/- gun owners) that supported him two years ago. He lost most of those important votes and may not be able to get them back for November.
    Now with Christine’s votes and probably most of the votes that went to the other Democratic primary candidates, Phil Scott has a herculean lift to be able to win in November. He needs to learn that you can not negotiate with the left. He needs to take some pages out of Paul LePage’s play book as Republican Governor in Maine. He (LePage) repeatedly has reduced the Dem’s to sniveling ineffective legislators time and time again. He has controlled spending and Maine ended the year with a $171M surplus. That is how you do it!
    Scott has hinted several times now that he didn’t believe the magazine capacity piece of S.55 was needed. So, lets hear that on January 3, 2019 he will ask the legislature to over turn it. It will save the taxpayers hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in legal costs to fight the Federation lawsuit.

  3. Much as I would like to see an avowed pro-constitution governor, supporting a Phil Scot with the hope that he has the integrity to honor the promises previously made to uphold the 2nd Amendment, as well as the rest of the constitution he swore to, is the realistic course of action.

    Diffusing the vote with write-ins, etc., would mean certain disaster; especially for the pre-pubescent kids who are being constantly indoctrinated with “politically correct” notions of all sorts not necessarily held by their parents.

    Try envisioning a Scott win and two years hence when a desperation donkey candidate might be a bestialist, or NAMBLA advocate….

  4. Is anyone anywhere going to ask Phil Scott if he supports more useless gun control if he is reelected? Everyone is allowed to make a mistake and maybe he realizes his was caving in to liberal lawmakers hoping to manipulate him into hurting his political future by angering a large percentage of his supporters. Now that we know the law is a nothing burger in terms of providing anyone any more safety from crazed school aged shooters, the fact that the mentally ill child won’t even be charged with the crime of intent and that the law is basically unenforceable how many more rights will have to be stolen from law abiding gun owners before they believe they are safe? What a farce it was that started from a bow tied implant from Chittendon County who moved here ten years ago. What gives some people the right to steal other peoples rights guaranteed in two constitutions? When will the law suit be settled in court? Can we rely on our Supreme Court Justices to stand up for our constitution or will they rewrite the Vermont Constitution legislating from the bench? God help us to get out from under the thumb of self appointed due gooders and control freaks of the progressive movement.

    • “Is anyone anywhere going to ask Phil Scott if he supports more useless gun control if he is reelected?”

      Or lie again,violate his oath again, or violate the Constitutions again,or just how far is too far for Benedict Scott.

      • Yes, all of that is true but now imagine Christine Hallquist and David Zuckerman as your fearless progressive leaders. Be careful of what you wish for! It’s the rock and the hard place or catch 22, but making things worse isn’t the answer. Think about it long and hard.

  5. Hallquist has done nothing but run a no competition electric monopoly, with minimal oversight.

    She can promise everything, bucause she has no political or competitive business background.

    Phil is proven in competitive business, sports, Legislative years, and now a wonderful success as first term governor

    Let’s not abandon him and elect real gun banners – who would finish off our 2nd amendment.

    • Know this’ No one can finish off anyone’s Second Amendment Rights. It would take 38 States to change one word in the Second Amendment. This is never going to happen. My guns are safe.

  6. While traveling in a group a couple of years ago, each member was invited to mention their state of origin. When I stated Vermont, the folks laughed at me. And the liberal, progressive dems in Montpelier don’t have a clue

  7. “Even this article states a ” transgendered person ” bravely facings “straight white male”
    Excellent example of how the media spins the news. The statement is not “fake news” but it sure puts negative light on “straight white male”

  8. During and After this election, Vermont has become the laughing stock of America just watch
    any of the debates or news and comments……………… Pretty Sad !!

    Even this article states a ” transgendered person ” bravely facings “straight white male” give
    me a break.

    We deserve better, but the Liberals are in control in Montpelier and will push any angle as you
    can see to take over the Governorship for their leftist agenda.

    It not for Vermont, it’s for an agenda…………………..Wake Up VT.

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