VT GOP Harvest Dinner
Remarks from Chair Pat McDonald
Thank you all for being here tonight to support the Vermont Republican Party. It’s great to see such a large turnout! These past two months have been a real eye-opener for all of us here in the State of Vermont. When Irene hit us in late August, we were reminded again how vulnerable we are to the forces of mother nature. Many of our friends and neighbors lost their homes, and their businesses, and are struggling to rebuild their lives. But we also saw again what makes Vermont special. From all corners of the State, Vermonters came together and immediately began the task of rebuilding. We took in those that were displaced by the storm, gave comfort to those that had lost so much, and opened our hearts and our wallets to help those in need.
It brought to mind what President Calvin Coolidge, a local boy from just up the road here, said when he returned home and witnessed the destruction of the 1927 floods:
“I love Vermont because of her hills and valleys, her scenery and invigorating climate, but most of all because of her indomitable people. They are a race of pioneers who have almost beggared themselves to serve others. If the spirit of liberty should vanish in other parts of the Union, and support of our institutions should languish, it could all be replenished from the generous store held by the people of this brave little state of Vermont.”
A lot of people in this room and throughout Vermont have worked tirelessly – TIRELESSLY – since Irene to help their communities recover. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for everything they have done and continue to do. Your efforts remind us that Vermont really is a special place, and what makes us special is our people. THANK YOU.
Tonight I wanted to talk a bit about the upcoming legislative session and what is going to be a very, very important election year here in Vermont. There is absolutely no doubt that “Rebuilding Vermont” will be the Legislature’s first, second and third task. Figuring out how to pay for the damage caused by Irene will dominate the session, because it is going to be extraordinarily expensive. While the federal government will eventually come through with their share of disaster funding for Vermont, it won’t cover everything. There will be enormous demands on our state budget, and on the budgets of our cities and towns. Meeting those many demands will require us to think differently.
I have asked the Governor to reassess the state’s funding priorities, and to put “Rebuilding Vermont” at the top of his list. We need to re-prioritize the current year’s budget and begin implementing economic strategies and cost-saving reforms to help put Vermont’s economy on a stronger footing and to pay for the costs of the storm. To put it bluntly, we need Vermont to come out of this stronger than we were before. And the danger with one-party rule in Montpelier is that they won’t get it right . . . and we can’t afford to let them get it wrong!
Now, Irene funding is by far the biggest item that the Legislature will be dealing with this year, but it is certainly not the only item. Issues like job creation, Vermont’s health care future, and Vermont’s energy future will generate a lot of heat and attention. I want the Vermont Republican Party to not only play a constructive role in those debates. I want our Party to be able to help our legislators, and help our candidates, sort through these difficult policy issues. I want to help our legislators and our candidates be strong advocates for the values and beliefs we hold dear.
You are going to hear me using the letters “G – O – P” a lot. We have come up with a little acronym that we think perfectly summarizes what we as Republicans believe and where we want to take Vermont.
- G for GROWTH. We want to help grow Vermont’s economy, to grow the pie, to grow businesses of all sizes. That means the State needs to get behind pro-growth policies that encourage, not discourage, economic development.
- O for OPPORTUNITY. Every Vermonter, young and old, deserves a shot at the American Dream. They deserve the opportunity to be all that they can be. Likewise, every Vermont business deserves the opportunity to succeed and to grow. Government should be there to encourage opportunity, and to open new doors for you, not to close doors in your face.
- P for PROSPERITY. The end goal of many of our policies is that it will enable you and your family to be financially stable, to make it so you can afford to live here in this beautiful state. Too many Vermonters are struggling right now, and too many Vermonters are living paycheck to paycheck. And those self-sufficient Vermonters aren’t clamoring for a new government program to help them – they are hoping for a better job, and a stronger economy. We need to deliver for them.
- G-O-P. Growth, Opportunity, and Prosperity. That is the slogan that we will be trumpeting, and I encourage you to trumpet it yourself by picking up a G-O-P bumper sticker tonight. I would also add that – to me – Growth and Opportunity and Prosperity equals Optimism. It equals Hope for a Better Tomorrow. It means brighter days are ahead for Vermont . . . and they are!
Finally, I wanted to put out a call for potential candidates. This State and this Nation have arrived at a very important time in our history. We have reached a fork in the road and the decision we make on which path to follow will “make all the difference” for generations to come.
Down one path lies greater government control of our lives, of our businesses, even of our health care. Down that path lies more taxes – a LOT more taxes –
Down the other path you will find economic growth, increased opportunities, and greater prosperity for Vermont families. Down that path lie the American values of liberty, independence and the pursuit of happiness. Down that path lies a government that works smarter, faster, and more efficiently than ever before.
I know which path the people in this room want to take. But to go down that path, we need people. We need candidates. We need Vermonters who are willing to contribute time and energy to this effort, and willing to come to Montpelier to help us in this struggle.
If you currently serve in elected office, thank you . . . and I need you to run again. If you served in elected office in the past, thank you . . . and I need you to run again. If you are a supporter of who we are and what we are trying to do, thank you . . . and I need you to run for office. We need you. And if you’re interested, let’s talk so we can get to work on your campaign.