If Tuesday’s election shows anything, it’s that the only group in Vermont being devastated was the Republican Party. Voters certainly did “make their voice heard,” and the election results show that Vermont is oriented squarely to the left of center. Democrats won an overwhelming number of elections across the state. Republicans clearly lost ground in statewide offices, in the House, and in the Senate. Only one Republican statewide candidate, incumbent Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, won a race. The only other non-Democratic winner was independent US Sen. Bernie Sanders. Everything else was a sweep for the Democrats.
We’re not a big fan of one-party politics. We think a spirited democracy needs viable candidates from a variety of perspectives. We ostensibly have four recognized parties in Vermont: Democrat, Progressive, Republican, and Liberty Union. We also have a variety of independent candidates who managed to get their names on the ballot.
With that many retail politicians across the state, you would think there would be spirited debate among voters and candidates, and close elections up and down the ballot. That just wasn’t the case this time around, and it may not be the case anytime soon.
Why? A number of reasons jump out. One is that the Democratic Party appears to have co-opted the Progressive Party in becoming a junior partner with the powerful Democrats. Many candidates appear on the ballot with the D and P designation next to their name.
The Liberty Union Party seems to be able to put together a statewide slate of candidates, but then does little or no campaigning. It seems their candidates are content to just have their name on the ballot. This year’s crop of Independents mostly espoused fringe ideas or came off as just plain out of touch.
As for the Republicans, they seem to be short of politicians who can generate broad-based excitement across the electorate. They also appear to be short of viable candidates to even challenge for House and Senate seats. Many local legislative elections featured uncontested races.
Even more important, Republicans seem to be desperately short of ideas that resonate with the majority of voters in Vermont. That may be their biggest downfall, and one that will take serious soul searching on the part of Republican leaders over the next weeks and months.
Vermonters deserve better. They deserve elections that feature a broad range of viable candidates and ideas.
As Tuesday’s election results clearly show, the only group that was in touch with Vermont voters this time around was the Democratic Party.