Editor's note: This commentary is by Kolby LaMarche, a Champlain College student who is the chair of the Burlington Republican Party and the former field and digital media coordinator for the Scott Milne for Vermont campaign for lieutenant governor.
As the United States mourns the loss of over 300,000 Americans due to the Covid-19 pandemic and as our nation welcomes the election of President-elect Joe Biden, desperate and disgruntled Trumplicans have gathered around the nation to protest non-existent voter fraud. One pro-Trump, so-called "Stop the Steal" rally was held in Montpelier on Dec. 5. Vermont Trumplicans huddled together to protest the disproven and patently false election fraud they claim prevented their impeached president from successfully securing reelection.
The group presented themselves as concerned citizens who were standing up for their democracy. However, after reviewing clips of the rally that were posted across social media, it became quickly apparent that they were simply following the same sentiments that have been presented by post-election Trump supporters throughout our country. They are scared of losing someone who appeals to their common interests even if that someone espouses racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and an abundance of other dangerous and disgusting views that threaten our country and stain the image of the Republican Party.
During the rally in Montpelier, a video showed the events coordinator, Gregory Thayer, opening the event by making outrageous claims that Trump has done “more for minorities than any other president in the last hundred years or so,” including America’s first Black president, Barack Obama. Thayer was interrupted by a rally-goer who shouted “Obama Bin Laden” to which the crowd cheered and blew air horns. It became clear that the rally wasn’t about the integrity of elections. It was about attempting to prolong the destructive and ugly movement that Trump created.
How much longer will the Republican Party allow Trump and his allies to utterly destroy its image? Furthermore, how much longer will the Vermont Republican Party allow its members and leadership to espouse harmful language that not only contradicts its history of fighting injustice and hate but that goes against its own party platform?
The damage, pain, anger, and hate that Trump has inflicted upon this nation and the Republican Party will be a challenge for decades to come. Many believe the Republican Party will never be the same, and I agree that we will always be haunted by what we allowed to happen, but I also believe there is a bright future ahead. Republicans like our own Gov. Phil Scott, Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, and Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland provide hope that my party, the Republican Party, can escape this political nightmare that Trump and his allies have conjured.
I believe in a Republican Party that cares about people of color. I believe in a party that seeks to protect the environment. I believe in a party that looks out for those in poverty. I believe in a party that helps small businesses facing serious financial issues. I believe in a party that keeps everyone safe and healthy. I believe in a party that works to unite, not divide.
Change is not only possible but necessary. The rally that happened in Montpelier proves that we have work to do. Work that requires our presence, our voice, and our hearts. The work towards a brighter, more empathetic future for our country and the Republican Party must start today.