This didn’t come up until near the end of last night’s forum, but I think it’s key to the question of whether Vermont’s Progressives and Democrats should work more closely together: Prog +
Dem does not necessarily equal victory.
Put another way: 21+21=42.
Independent/Progressive Anthony Pollina won 21 percent of the vote in this year’s gubernatorial race. Democrat Gaye Symington won 21 percent. Together they don’t add up to enough to beat Republican Jim Douglas, who won 55 percent. So if the goal of the Progs/Dems is to beat the Republicans, will they achieve that by working together? I don’t think so.
For starters, other than defeating Republicans, the two parties don’t always have the same goals. They agree on a lot of issues, but they have some real differences. That became clear at last night’s forum.
Take the size of the tent. Dems have a big one. Progs a little one. Both on purpose. Progressive Rep. David Zuckerman accused the Dems of being willing to accept anybody – pro or anti-choice, for example. Burlington City Democratic Chairman Jake Perkinson suggested the Progs focus on special interests at the expense of taking on the full gamut of public policy.
There are other differences.
Democratic Rep. Johanna Donovan argued that Dems are more realistic. They move issues, even if it means compromise, because they see value in taking steps. Think Catamount. Progressive Burlington City Councilor Jane Knodell said the Progs’ role is to generate innovative ideas. She cited use of land trusts for affordable housing.
All four panel members concede they are fairly far left on the political spectrum. What was missing from Thursday’s debate was a more centrist Democrat and what was telling was that no one at the debate seemed to care about that.
How eager would those centrists be to have the Democratic Party lock arms with the Progs? When the sounds of kumbaya start coming out, you might expect centrists to grow squeamish. What are they going to do then? Vote Republican.
It could be the quickest way to help rejuvenate the Republican Party in Vermont.
If you look at Thursday’s debate as one of several pre-marital counseling sessions between the Progs and the Dems, I think you come away thinking the counselor is going to advise this couple to think twice about tying any knots.
(Thanks to Seven Days for hosting it and to Seven Days blogger Cathy Resmer for linking to our blog during the event. Perhaps it was a lack of dexterity on my part but I didn’t manage to check in on their blogging while I was doing my blogging.)
- Terri Hallenbeck