There is a core reason Gov. Phil Scott has what is considered an unsurmountable lead in his gubernatorial race with Progressive/Democrat David Zuckerman: Vermonters, conservatives and liberals alike, trust him.
It is an earned trust, something forged out of not only the pandemic but the harshness of our political times. He was measured in his response to Covid-19, but also naturally transparent, and open, and calm; traits that cannot be taught. It’s who he is and it’s who we needed to accomplish what we’ve accomplished in dealing with the virus.
Mr. Scott has also stood in stark contrast to the leader of his party, President Donald Trump, and he has done so from the moment both first took office in January, 2017. He is everything Trump is not, which is why he has made it clear Mr. Trump will not get his vote.
That sells well in Vermont, even among moderate Republicans. As the Republican Party looks ahead to its next generation of leaders, it’s Mr. Scott’s example that should be followed. Not the hard right of Donald Trump. That’s crucial if Vermont’s Republican Party has a hope of ever balancing out the numbers difference between Republicans and Democrats in the legislature and in Congress.
Mr. Scott’s strength is a moment in time. He has what Vermont needs in the moment. But the objective of any good leader is to look at the present as something that can be improved upon, understanding that inertia is a force that needs constant opposition. What we have isn’t good enough.
As he looks to a third term, Mr. Scott has three central challenges that extend beyond his common refrains of fiscal restraint and job growth.
First, is child care. As the pandemic has shown our economy is incredibly vulnerable to a workforce that does not have access to affordable, high-quality child care. What has to be understood, and acted upon, is that child care is not a social good by its lonesome, it’s a basic economic need. It’s not an expense, it’s an investment. It’s a fundamental game-changer for a state looking desperately for a way to broaden and deepen it’s appeal for growth. As a businessman, Mr. Scott needs to seize this initiative as his mark to distinguish Vermont’s workplace. He might be surprised to learn just how supportive the business community would be should he elect to take the lead.
Second, is higher education. For too long we’ve considered education in Vermont as something that extends from preK to a senior in high school. It isn’t, and it can’t be. Our matriculation rate from high school to college is among the nation’s lowest and that simply isn’t acceptable. We’re short-circuiting our potential. The state’s budget has to be more generous and more supportive to higher education. Higher education can be changed, it can be reconfigured any number of different ways, and it should be, but it has to be supported. Our students [and their parents] need to know they are being adequately prepared for tomorrow’s workplace.
Third, is health care. We’ve allowed our health care system to languish betwixt and between with no one having any certainty as to our direction, and with the Green Mountain Care Board — the state’s five-person regulatory team — adding not only to the confusion but challenging the very solvency of the health care system we have. The irony of it all is that we sit on the edge of something profound — which is the move away from the health care system’s traditional fee-for-service approach to a capitated system based on outcomes. But to get there, to make the transition will require some extraordinary leadership, something that can only come from the governor’s office.
Mr. Scott has the public’s trust to take on these challenges. He has the political capital to spend. We endorse his candidacy with the expectation that he use both to address Vermont’s opportunities and its challenges.
by Emerson Lynn