Letter to the editor: Politicians joining Kavanaugh in trading on privilege

I was watching Brett Kavanaugh furiously interrupting female senators during Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, and all I could think about was “white male privilege.” Then I opened Thursday’s paper and read Greg Dennis’ column about the Vermont Senate race, and I realized what had been troubling me about Paul Ralston and Marie Audet’s campaign as independents. Gov. Scott would, I read, appear at their Oct. 2  fundraiser, which had suggested to me that Ralston and Audet are really running as barely covert Republicans.
Then something clicked.
Saying that you’re an independent when benefitting from a political party’s PR machine is a privilege. Saying, like Scott, that you’re a Republican while distancing yourself from Trump’s evident madness and casual cruelty is also a privilege. Ralston’s outraged response to Dennis’ neutral questions, in which he charged the columnist with bias and oversimplification, sounded an awful lot like Brett Kavanaugh. Or Donald Trump. Or many other conservatives in the party of Grand Old Privilege.
From Kavanaugh’s interruptions to Scott’s distance from the Republican Party’s current leadership to Ralston and Audet’s so-called “independence,” these rhetorical privileges damage our shared public sphere. When “alternative facts” become the currency of public political discourse, the trust and interdependence that underwrite the institutions of liberal democracy start to erode. I plan to vote for candidates this November who approach the Vermont Senate from a sense of public service, not privilege.
Michael Sheridan

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