8.17.2010

Lies politicians tell me

In Vermont, the Governor's term is only two years duration, which is silly, and means that it is almost always election season... as if we didn't have enough problems already.

As the incumbent and (surprisingly) Republican governor is not running for re-election this cycle, there are many Democratic candidates seeking to fill the seat. The Republican candidate, Brian Dube, is not facing a primary challenger for his party's nomination.

The primary election is next week, where the field of Democratic gubernatorial candidates will be remorselessly winnowed from five to one. It is predicted that the percentage of the electorate that will be involved in making this potentially momentous decision will be very small.

Anyhow, Vermont twitterati (/irony) that I am, and with 'social networking' being all the rage with campaigns these days, some of the candidates have "followed" me -- a very lemming-like metaphor -- me on twitter. This despite the fact that my main use of twitter, is to promote this blog -- truly a lost cause, and also to get real time results from bike races.

I took a look at candidate Peter Shumlin's twitter profile out of curiosity. Now, twitter is inherently shallow, self-aggrandizing, and not a venue for nuance or deep thought, but I discovered that Mr. Shumlin's twitter page describes the candidate as (and I quote):

"Socially liberal and fiscally conservative Democratic Senate President from Windham County running for Governor of Vermont."

Now, "socially liberal" makes perfect sense, I won't address that here.

"Fiscally conservative," however, is a lie.

It's not quite as absurd as saying "on a clear day the sky is not blue" but it's almost up there with "2 + 2 = 5" in my book. It would be a strange parallel universe indeed, a down-the-rabbit-hole kind of world, where Peter Shumlin could be accurately characterized as a "fiscal conservative".

Perhaps this sentence was tossed off without thinking by some campaign worker. Maybe it is of no importance whatsoever, making it perfect fodder for this unimportant and unread blog.

I, however, find it emblematic of the mess we are in.

As a proud member of no political party, I have tried to follow the campaign, vainly searching for distinguishing characteristics among the five Democratic candidates. I have tried -- and failed -- to identify a candidate grounded in reality, and not in the thrall of various regressive special interest groups.

Instead, the five candidates have assiduously refrained from criticizing one another and managed to speak in airy platitudes, flattering established constituencies while not addressing the need for serious structural changes by state government.

It has been a dispiriting experience that leaves me with little hope for serious, thoughtful debate in the next two months until the general election in November.

*Candidate Susan Bartlett did state something to the effect that "government does not create wealth", which probably qualifies as the most commonsensical statement by any Democratic candidate in this election cycle, as this is a dissenting opinion in Vermont.

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