Vermont's opposition leadership

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Many were quite surprised to read in the op-ed by the first term Progressive Representative in Windsor County last week that even the Progressive/Democrat alliance in Montpelier is beginning to show signs of strain and fracture. Democratic leadership, in the House specifically, and in the Senate by association, is now under attack from within its own ranks.

For the many Republicans, past and present, who had the honor to serve in the House, these revelations, though startling coming from a Progressive, are old news. When the opposition party makes these charges of misaligned priorities they tend to ring hollow in the ears of the media, so while many Republicans have and will continue to oppose this way of doing business, we hope that voters will begin to give greater weight to the charges that have been laid against the Democrat supermajority, and to consider their alternative.

While many would like to suppose that Republicans would act no differently, every piece of evidence is to the contrary. Rep. Don Turner served for several years as Republican House leader, and the mantra over and over, at nearly every caucus meeting, was a simple refrain: "You vote for your constituents first." Rep. Patty McCoy has continued that tradition and refrain as well. Similarly, under the leadership of Walt Freed, Republicans were encouraged to vote their conscience first, their constituents second, and lastly the party. Some might say that allowing such freedom of opinion by Republican members looks like discord. Instead it is a sign of party strength and integrity. Voters should be thankful that Republicans do not blindly advocate for an agenda that is set by a few party leaders then blindly followed by the others. The Republican Party, instead, allows individuals to voice their opinions, give their reasons and vote their conscience and what is in the best interests of their constituents.

When Democrats have a model that exerts power from the top of party leadership down to the rank and file members, then to the voters last, it's easy to have a unified message, albeit one not in the voter's best interests. A handful of Democrat leaders meet in secret, decide what they want to do with our state, then they whip everyone into line behind the message. It's an effective way to control a message and control an outcome.

A Republican majority would bring a vision to lawmaking that would be vastly different and better than their Democrat counterparts. Republicans allow the members to bring to the table the hopes and needs of their local constituents, to forge a path forward to help and not hinder the goals, purposes and ingenuity of the citizens. Leadership that flows from the people, to their elected members, realizes results that are best for all concerned and not for special interests or politicians who wish to exercise control their way instead of the people's way.

To be the representative republic we claim to be, the elected members must represent the people in truth instead of just going through the motions and then deceiving and pretending.

Deb Billado is chair of the Vermont Republican Party.

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