If You Believe in Justice in Vermont, You Must Vote for David Zuckerman and Molly Gray

My 2020 Vermont Ballot

I voted for David Zuckerman to be Vermont’s next Governor.

I voted for Molly Gray to be Vermont’s next Lt. Governor.

If you’re an eligible voter in Vermont, you should vote for them, too.

It’s an easy choice.

They are the only two candidates advocating for the many forms of justice we need — racial justice, social justice, economic justice, environmental justice, and the intersecting justices within and beyond.

Governor Phil Scott (and, by extension Lt. Governor candidate Scott Milne, whose only campaign message seems to be that he’s almost as good as the Governor) are not advocating for these things.

Not really.

Yes, Governor Scott has signed a few bills I like into law (gun control measures at the top of the list), and I applaud him for that. Yes, Governor Scott has followed science during the pandemic, and we are in a relatively good position compared to most of the country. But, is Governor Scott really a singular force behind an amazing response, or is the bar just so low among Republican leadership that he looks like a hero for doing what every Governor should have done all along? To me, it’s the latter. I’m perplexed every time I hear hero worship-like soundbites from Vermont citizens and media, as if no one else could have done this. Do you really think that Sue Minter and Christine Hallquist, the two previous Democratic nominees for Governor, who would have undoubtedly been among a handful of the most liberal leaders in the country, would have done worse?

No, I think not.

I actually think they would have done better. Why? Because they would have been working to keep us safe during the pandemic while also working toward the converging and intersectional justices listed above. Governor Scott has not — and is not — focused on that work.

Governor Scott has twice vetoed a universal paid-leave program. It took a legislative veto override to get minimum wage workers $12.55/hr by 2022, not the $15 that often gets talked about, and far from the $23.36 that the National Low Income Housing Coalition says is necessary to be truly livable in Vermont. It took another legislative override to pass the Global Warming Solutions Act. Governor Scott has also vetoed multiple bills focused on consumer protection and toxic chemical control, and he has advocated for reductions to education funding each year in office. Going further, under this Governor’s watch, 23% of Vermont households still don’t have high-speed internet connectivity, and 15% of Vermont children under the age of eighteen still live in food insecure households. And, to highlight the parallel pandemic that’s been raging on this continent for over 400 years, racism; data show that Black and Latinx Vermonters are still disproportionately targeted by police in this state, like they are in the rest of the country; and Black, Indigenous, and other students of color — as well as students with physical or neurological differences — are 2–3 times more likely to be suspended from school, expelled from school, and/or referred to law enforcement in Vermont.

This is just a sampling of where we’re at with Governor Scott, the “good guy who cares about Vermonters” even though his platform of “no new taxes and fees” leaves those who were already behind even further so and positions us without a social services foundation to attract new residents post-pandemic.

Which brings me back to David Zuckerman and Molly Gray.

They both won solid Democratic primaries against other candidates who would have done an exemplary job in the respective offices, and they both have a much stronger platform than their opponents. However, practically all I hear about in the press are the one or two negative aspects of their campaigns. David Zuckerman has a questionable history on vaccines. That upsets me. Molly Gray didn’t vote in several elections. That upsets me, too.

And, they each have about fifty things I can get behind in a general election!!! Seriously, have you compared their platforms to those of Scott and Milne?

It’s not even close.

So, why is it that hoards of people on the left (Democrats, liberals, P/progressives, socialists, greens, left-leaning independents, and more) have such a hard time consolidating around general election candidates? Take 2018’s results as an example. Peter Welch and Bernie Sanders both had over 180,000 votes and big wins. Christine Hallquist had 110,000 votes and a big loss, even though she ran on the same basic platform as them, ie. higher minimum wage, paid family leave, climate solutions, water quality, tuition-free public college, push back on austerity in K-12 education, etc.

These numbers don’t compute for me. Who are the 70,000 split-ticket voters?

Is it that they like to talk about these ideas and values on the national level, but that they aren’t ready to take the steps necessary to actually implement them at home by electing a progressive executive?

Or, was it simpler than all that two years ago? Is it that the general electorate didn’t want to vote for a woman to be in charge? The same thing happened with Sue Minter in 2016. Same platform as Welch and Bernie, yet she lost big to Phil Scott. It seemed to me at the time that no one wanted to have a serious conversation about sexism and transphobia (Hallquist identifies as transgender).

Now, with Zuckerman in the mix, it’s a little more nuanced. We have a white, cishet man going up against a white, cishet man for the Governor’s office.

How can a state that continues to elect a very liberal federal delegation and a very liberal state legislature even think about continuing to elect a justice roadblock as Governor (and a possible jr. justice roadblock as Lt. Governor)?

There are no perfect candidates. There are no perfect people. Heck, Leahy, Sanders, and Welch support the F-35’s, among other nefarious things, because of their potential positive economic impact on the state, even though closing the gender and racial wealth gaps would triple or quadruple that impact.

That’s how it works. In general elections, we get two or a few candidates, and someone on that list gets the job. General elections are not the time for ideological nitpicking and perfection tests. We make pro/con lists, and we vote for the person who lines up best on the issues we care about.

So, if you believe in justice in Vermont, you must vote for David Zuckerman and Molly Gray. They aren’t just the only options; they’re really good ones.

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Peter Langella (he/him) is a high school & college educator in VT. He’s currently reading FELIX EVER AFTER by Kacen Callender. Twitter = @PeterLangella.

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Peter Langella

Peter Langella

Peter Langella (he/him) is a high school & college educator in VT. He’s currently reading FELIX EVER AFTER by Kacen Callender. Twitter = @PeterLangella.

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