By Guy Page
So, I know Mark Coester. He’s the Windham County senate candidate on the August 9 GOP primary ballot whom the Vermont Democratic Party two days ago called “openly fascist” because someone carried an anti-communist falangist flag on his logging truck in a Colchester July 4 parade. The truck’s hood also sports a picture of supposedly alt-right symbol Pepe the Frog.
I know Mark as a kinda Duck Dynasty chain-smoker who thinks freely and deeply, makes up his own mind, and then shoots straight. We disagree on some things. But right or wrong he is more prophet than parrot. His favorite swear word, of which there are many, is “politician.” A man acquainted with splinters and buzzsaws. Honest. Decent.
I know Mark likes the Constitution just the way it is. Unlike many of his critics, he would never denigrate it as the oppressive tool of rich, white, male, musket-toting, slave-owners.
And here’s something else I know: old school, civil rights-minded Democrats should be ashamed of the party hacks who wrote a July 19 press release claiming the VT GOP has disavowed Mark. This is true as far as it goes. The Party doesn’t consider him a Republican because he also is running as an independent against a Republican in a U.S. Senate race, VT GOP Chair Paul Dame said. (There are other differences, too, Dame said.)
Worse, and in the same press release, the VT Democratic Party apparatchiks urged the GOP also disavow many public-minded fellow Vermonters as “traitors” engaged in “seditious conspiracy” for signing Bob Orleck’s petition (there’s that pesky constitutional right, again!) asking Vice-President Mike Pence, the Senate President, to toss out the election results.
“Congratulations to our @vtgop friends for finally deciding to do something about their fascist problem! Now do the rest of the traitors,” the VT Democratic Party tweeted along with its attachment of the press release.
Question if you wish whether such an action by Pence would stand Supreme Court scrutiny. Think what you will about whether or not the election was stolen. (Yesterday I asked Secretary of State Jim Condos, champion of the 2020 election results, if he has seen the documentary “2000 Mules.” His spokesman said he has not. I urged him, and I urge all Vermonters, to consider the film’s evidence.)
But, my fellow Vermonters of all political persuasions, when other Vermonters disagree with you and call for lawful redress, do not call them traitors. In this country we execute traitors. To even call a fellow American a traitor without factual basis is a rude abuse of the protections of the First Amendment.
I also know Bob Orleck – a former prosecutor for the U.S. government – and many of the people who signed his petition. Good, hard-working, caring, peaceable Vermonters, one and all.
Shame on the party hacks who call them traitors. When Democrats fought the results of the Bush-Gore 2000 election in Congress, the Republicans I know didn’t call them traitors. They just didn’t believe Bush had won. They were beseeching heaven for the bodily resurrection of the Gore presidency even as the last nail was driven into its coffin and it was lowered into the ground and the dirt shoveled on top.
There was nothing wrong with that kind of political faith-in-action then. And there’s nothing wrong with it now.
Some might say, “Vermont Democrats are just playing divisive ‘wedge’ politics.” I say that when your political strategy leads you to call fellow Vermonters traitors, with no thoughtful basis, Constitution-loving Vermonters should distance themselves from you and your candidates, on general principles.
We all, Democrats and Republicans and others, love our country. And if we love America, we will obey her founding principles: free elections, free speech, the right to bear arms, due process of law. And of course – the right to protest and petition.
Categories: Letter from the Publisher