Andrew Perchlik: Voting reform can save moderate Republicans

Editor's note: This commentary is by state Sen. Andrew Perchlik, D/P-Washington, of Montpelier. 

I’m concerned for the RINOs, and our democracy. Trump and his lackeys have labeled elected Republicans as RINOs (Republican In Name Only) not worthy of reelection if they dare to question Trump’s crimes, ethical violations, or just the lack of any coherent public policy. Trump’s goal is to drive thoughtful Republicans from elected office and replace them with those that do not question his criminal megalomaniacal presidency or the national Republicans’ position that the ends justify the means when subverting our democracy. Vermont needs to protect ourselves from these efforts.

Trump and his elected Republican supporters have become so un-American that many Vermont Republican politicians are distancing themselves from the Republican Party. They say they are Agri-publicans or Ver-publicans. However, if they want to get elected they have little choice but to continue to seek the Republican nomination and be candidates and elected officials for the Republican Party, Donald Trump’s party, a party they say has left them.

Vermont “RINOs” purged from their party will have nowhere to go politically and the Republican Party will turn further towards Trump. While I’m a Progressive/Democrat I value the role of independent-thinking Republicans, like former U.S. Sen. James Jeffords. I understand, just as Trump Republicans do, that purged RINOs will not join the Democratic or Progressive parties after a life of being Republicans. If they become independent candidates, the result is often the election of a Democrat or a Progressive. Normally I’d see that as a positive, but not if it results in the rise of a Trump-style right-wing Republican Party in Vermont.

We can protect Vermont against Trumpism by allowing ranked choice voting (RCV). Vermonters should demand a RCV system that can support purged RINO candidates as evenly as Progressives and Democrats. RCV is successfully strengthening democracy in Maine, in cities across the country, and countries around the world including Ireland and Australia. RCV should be supported by moderate Republicans that may soon be RINOs without a party, and by Democrats that would rather work with moderate Republicans and Progressives instead of right-wing Trumpers. Vermonters will enjoy RCV as it allows them to vote for their favorite candidates without fear of it helping a candidate they don’t support at all. 

It is time we understand that limiting voters and candidates to two parties can result in extreme Trump-style candidates getting elected without the majority of voters’ support. We like to think that it wouldn’t happen here, but when QAnon takes over the Republican Party and elected moderate RINOs are extinct in Vermont, it will be too late. RCV will strengthen our democracy against Trumpism. 

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