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This Week in Freudenfreude: Great Scott

Let's be honest, Republican politicians kind of take a beating in the last item, and in a couple of the other items above. We don't plan it out that way, we just go where the news takes us. That said, let's finish with a reminder that there are still sane, decent Republican politicians out there who really are trying to do their best by their fellow citizens, as they understand it.

The Republican in question here is Gov. Phil Scott (R-VT), who just commenced his fourth term in office. Vermont has a tradition of "neighborly" governance, by which we mean that the members of smaller communities usually have a town meeting with their neighbors on the first Tuesday in March to elect municipal leadership for the year. Given that the pandemic is now an endemic, and so still has some people leery about congregating with many others at the same time, both chambers of the Vermont legislature passed S.172, which allows localities to keep utilizing the measures they used during the pandemic, including absentee voting.

Scott promptly signed the bill, explaining that he is a servant of the people, and this is what the people clearly want. Then, he promptly turned around and directed some withering criticism at the state legislature. The Governor's gripe was not, however, that the legislators had made it easier to vote. Instead, it was that the legislators had not gone far enough. In a letter to the members, he declared:

Unfortunately, the Legislature has missed another opportunity to expand voter access further by expanding automatic mailing of ballots beyond general elections (Act 60) to include school budget votes, local elections and primary elections. Last year after signing Act 60 into law, I asked the Legislature to take this up when they returned in January, and if passed could be a model for the country. General elections already have the highest voter turnout. What we need is increased voter participation for elections like those on Town Meeting Day or school budget votes, which experience a fraction of the turnout of general elections.

That does not sound like most of today's GOP politicians. It sounds more like... Bernie Sanders. Maybe it's something in the water in Vermont.

Both of us are quite familiar with Scott, and one of us (V) has even met him and spoke to him one-on-one for 15 minutes. He's consistently shown himself to be a very decent fellow, in our view, and obviously that letter does nothing to change our opinion. Politicians of all stripes should be bending over to encourage voter participation, and to make the American democracy more... democratic. It's nice to see a Republican who has the courage to stand up and say that, regardless of what many of his more Trumpy fellows might say. (Z)

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