by Deborah Bucknam, Esq.
Over 40 years ago, I was a law student in a trial practice course taught by Peter Welch at Vermont Law School. In those days, Peter was a classic political liberal: He believed in the Bill of Rights, including the right to free speech. He was unafraid of people with whom he disagreed, and he respected dissenting opinions.
Now Welch has become the congressman from Washington D.C. He has abandoned the liberal values he held so many years ago, and has abandoned the legacy of independence for which Vermont congressional representatives were justly famous. On any issue, his votes, views and actions are entirely predictable. He speaks in poll tested jargon mimicking Washington insiders.
Here is what Welch is most concerned about:
- Welch claims that thousands of elected officials and their tens of millions of supporters across the country are working to “subvert the next election.” In a recent Bennington Banner interview, he said that election subversion efforts are “now continuing in Trump-dominated legislatures” (whatever that means). Because of these “efforts”, Welch has repeatedly stated “our democracy is in peril”, and “our democracy is at stake”. In the same Banner interview, he laid out his most important priority. He said, “The most profound question is: are we going to protect defend and preserve our democracy?” This is a radical view of the political electorate, reminiscent of the dark ruminations of Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
- Welch is acting on his McCarthyite suspicions by working to limit speech of those he claims are enemies of democracy—and to limit Vermonters’ rights to hear or read those voices—another favorite technique of Joe McCarthy. We are apparently too stupid or gullible to sort out fact from fiction, according to Welch, and the government must fix the problem. Last month, Welch put out a statement on his official congressional website stating “It’s long past time we created a dedicated government agency to regulate and address the wide range of issues raised by social media platforms…That’s why I am working on legislation to create a federal agency to do just that.” Welch advocates federal legislation to regulate what Vermonters can read or see on social media. Wow.
- Welch is all in on the Green New Deal. He couches his support for that radical piece of legislation, not in policy terms, but by demonizing anyone who disagrees with him. In the same Bennington Banner interview, he said “The questions we face right now are whether to fight climate change or go back to climate denial.” Virtually no one “denies” climate change. Instead, Welch requires us to embrace progressive solutions to combat climate change—or be labeled a crazy climate denier, to be dismissed and silenced. Progressive policies to “fight” climate change are already having a devastating effect on the poor, working and middle classes in Vermont. But because Welch has couched fighting climate change in terms of “us versus the crazies”, there will be no compromise.
While Welch adheres to D.C.’s slogans and fears, he is silent on the real concerns of Vermonters:
- Inflation: Welch has said nothing about how he proposes to combat inflation. Indeed, he would be hard pressed to do so, because he advocates highly inflationary policies. For example, he supports the Biden administration’s limits on production of fossil fuels. Vermonters are feeling the effects at the gas pump, in their home heating fuel costs, and in increased food costs because of the high cost of transportation. Welch has failed to even address this growing financial catastrophe for Vermonters.
- Public safety: Welch is silent about the epidemic of violence which is killing our young people. The only time he mentions “violence” is when talking about January 6, 2021, or “gun violence”, as if guns were the cause of homicides, not people. Criminal violence killed nearly 10,000 Black Americans last year—mostly young Americans in the prime of life. Welch is silent on this American tragedy.
- Drugs: Deaths from drug overdoses in the United States reached a record level last year, to over 107,000, thanks in large part to the poison fentanyl coming over our border. Those deaths do not begin to tell the story of the devastation to families and children as a result of the drug scourge. No mention of this enormous drug problem from Welch.
Welch is worried about his political enemies. He is working hard to limit our First Amendment constitutional rights. He is committed to increasing costs and regulations on fuel for our homes and vehicles here in cold, rural Vermont. Yet, he seems to have no concern about Vermonters’ real issues, including inflation, public safety, and drugs pouring into our country and killing our kids. Welch has become the ideal representative from Washington, D.C.