Klar Klarifies

GOP guv candidate explains why he voted for Bernie – but never again

By John Klar

Having announced my bid for the Vermont Republican nomination for Governor on Monday, a stir has arisen from vtdigger’s coverage, in which Jon Margolis (correctly) attributed this quote to me: “I was actually a Bernie (Sanders) supporter … I voted for Obama twice.” I wish to clarify my political views.

Though I identified as a Democrat in my youth, I was always a fiscal conservative. Swollen federal deficits have always concerned me greatly, and I have long perceived that BOTH parties increase that problem — Republicans by cutting taxes; Democrats by spending as if they have a printing press. Large deficits aggravate inflation, discourage investment, create an interest rate expense drag, and weaken our ability to respond to economic crisis. 

I voted for Bill Clinton because I believed he would keep those deficits down (Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has written that Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were “by far” the smartest Presidents he worked with). But then, as I explain at my website, Clinton embroiled the nation in a scandal in which he repeatedly lied under oath (including to a Grand Jury), which undermined his effectiveness as a leader. I believe in the Rule of Law — even for the POTUS. My vote had been betrayed, and partisanship allowed the POTUS to escape unscathed while my criminal clients ( I then ran a law practice) — or you or I — would have faced jail time. I expected more from a leader who set the tone for our children and society. 

I was unhappy with George W. Bush because of the Iraq War, and Abu Ghraib, so I was still alienated from the GOP. In 2005, we sold our farm in Barton because I was convinced that the mortgage market would collapse, and the real estate bubble would burst. Both did.

I believe it was Alan Greenspan who observed at the time that John McCain was completely clueless about the financial meltdown, and that Barack Obama was extremely intelligent and comprehended the degree of the crisis. Also, though I had long been very distrustful of ALL politicians, the national energy behind Obama was enormous, and I did not want to “judge” someone solely on that cynical instinct. So I voted for him.

Then four years later, after the financial implosion had been (marginally) surmounted, Mitt Romney proclaimed that if elected he would initiate a trade war with China. This sounded reckless and very dangerous — similar protectionism had greatly aggravated the Great Depression (of which I was and am a student). So again, out of fiscal concerns, I felt compelled to vote for Barack Obama.

But my cynicism was justified. Not only did POTUS Obama accept massive sums from Wall Street and other financial interests, but he supported Monsanto Corporation against farmers, and he tried to unconstitutionally compromise the Second Amendment. I had been betrayed by the Democrats yet again.

Then Bernie Sanders ran for POTUS. I initially supported him because I favored a third-party populist — from Left or Right — to break the corporate/Party dominance that seemed ever to siphon taxpayer money despite promises of integrity. But low and behold, Hillary Clinton decided it was her decision who would win the primary, and took Bernie out — and he pandered to her and the DNC like a sell-out! So much for a left-wing populist. More, the national media and American public didn’t seem to mind that we had been disenfranchised. After that, I would never vote for a Democrat again. Clearly, the Rule of Law, and the right to vote, were viewed with contempt by the DNC. But I was unpersuaded by Donald Trump, and voted in protest for a pot smoking libertarian. Yet MANY people switched to Donald Trump in protest — not because Bernie’s supporters suddenly became racist misogynists. (The Dems still haven’t admitted this fact).

For conservatives to deride me because I did not vote for Republicans in those years is odd — much like a Christian telling a convert “I could never trust you — you used to be an atheist!” I am what is called a “reactionary conservative.” Many of my current “conservative” positions, such as being tolerant toward those with whom I disagree, were erstwhile liberal positions. I have become “more conservative” merely by remaining a “classic liberal.” And I can criticize Obama and the Clintons because I voted for them.

Then comes Donald J. Trump. Vermonters, here is my position: this is my campaign for Vermont Governor, not Donald J. Trump’s. By remaining “neutral” I seem to be upsetting everyone — liberals who want to “employ” Donald Trump to negate my innovative proposals to repair pensions, reduce stifling regulations, save local schools, and expand our efforts in the opioid crisis; and conservatives who demand I proclaim allegiance to the President, or else label me spineless. I take exception to both efforts.

As Governor Scott has demonstrated, it is gratuitously rancorous to routinely butt heads with President Donald J. Trump. It has not benefited Vermont one wit, (even if it has gained the Governor national limelight). Conversely, to proclaim loyalty to the President would elicit the opposite but same result — constant rancour and attacks, that will not help our state. I refuse to play that game, and I assert that Vermont has extremely urgent economic problems which merit focus, or we ALL suffer. How about that? I won’t allow our agripublican policy list to be “judged” by people’s opinions of the President. I’m asking people to look at the ideas, and weigh them without regard to Donald Trump. I earnestly submit that this will help us come together and solve problems that are nonpartisan — schools, drug addiction, state workers’ and teachers’ pensions, economic stagnation, an aging population, people moving away. (Paying $10,000 to out-of-staters is absurd — whether or not Donald Trump is President.)

At my press conference Monday, the press did not report my initial statement:

“Vermont state employees at the VAAFM received pay raises of 15.1 % between 2013 and 2017, while the state’s median income grew a mere 3.78% over that same period. Note that that 3.78% INCLUDES those state employee gains, so the numbers for average Vermonters are even worse. (For all state employees, the increase was 14.47%, per Table 38).”

I do not see how the theft of our money by out-of-touch legislators and bureaucrats has anything at all to do with Donald Trump. The pension fraud (it truly is a FRAUD) has been accruing for at least ten yearspreceding Donald J. Trump. Those who have avoided fiscal responsibility for keeping promises to our teachers would rather distract voters over Donald Trump than recalculate what the actual liability is using honest accounting — let alone properly fund the pensions. Soon it will be unrealistic to meet those obligations. Shall Vermonters then argue over whether it was Donald Trump’s fault or not?

That is the core of our agripublican proposal — to roll up our sleeves like civil Vermonters, like head-to-the ground farmers, to benefit everyone without regard to political affiliation. Is that achievable? If not, our children will resent us bitterly much sooner than “climate change” materializes — if it does materialize. But there is no doubt that the pension mess WILL crush our already anemic economy (especially with workers fleeing and the remnant aging) if we do not intercede immediately.

Vermonters cannot all work for state government. That is unsustainable. We must act now to avert disaster. Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States, and he can’t fix our pensions, or opioids, or schools for us — it takes tolerant neighbors to do that.

But notice how quickly the Vermont media and Democrats dug up one article I wrote about transgender surgeries for children (who are too young by law to consent to sex, or chew tobacco, but can choose gender surgeries and lifetime hormone therapy). My speech, our platform, our websites — none of those concern that social issue, on which I have written an intelligent critique (everybody OK with free trans-species surgeries for school children? — that is the ineluctable progression). We can fix pensions even while people disagree with me and others on social issues. But again, there is an effort to distract — since they couldn’t link me to Donald Trump, they picked through my dozens of articles to cherry pick an argument then presented in an incendiary fashion.

I have faith that Vermonters can see past the subterfuge and statehouse smokescreen, especially as they pay their steadily increasing tax bills. If the Democrats and progressives don’t want to talk about pensions, credit downgrades, school closings which coampel children to be bussed long distances, or helping people on medically assisted treatment (MAT) to wean off dependency, they should be courageous enough to just say so. 

I voted for Barack Obama twice, and foolishly hoped Bernie Sanders was not just another egomaniac. Please forgive me. I am a “rural populist” (per Mr. Margolis) who fears there may not be enough money yet printed on the planet to overcome the media bias in Vermont that seeks to silence the financial truths I reveal. Yet, the pen is mightier than the sword, and mightier still than the dishonesty and criminality inflicted on Vermonters by their deaf, out-of-touch legislators.

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