by Rob Roper
Randy Brock laid out a sharp contrast between himself and the man he would like to replace in the governor’s office, Peter Shumlin. Speaking to a packed house of party faithful at the Republican State Convention, Brock highlighted two specific issues, the 800 pound gorilla that is healthcare, and the smaller but emotionally charged issue of what should happen with $21 million dollars CVPS owes its customers should its merger with Canadian Gaz Metro goes through.
Painting in broad strokes, Brock outlined a picture of where he wants to lead the state:
Imagine a Vermont where there are enough revenues from a healthy economy to care well for the truly needy. Imagine a Vermont where a child born in poverty can grow up healthy with a great education and a future full of promise. Imagine a Vermont where prudent regulation and free choice and abundant competition can make the high quality and low cost of Vermont healthcare the envy of the nation. Imagine a Vermont with schools where test scores actually go up, and property taxes don’t threaten to impoverish us. Imagine a Vermont with a lean and modest government that reflects our self-reliance and our strong work ethic. A government that gets out of the way, and lets a well regulated free market bring us all the good things that the free market has always delivered.
That is a bold vision for Vermont, and that is my vision for Vermont.
Brock’s vision is in contrast to the Vermont he knew when he settled here in 1970 and started a successful business. It is also in sharp contrast to the direction embraced by his opponent, Peter Shumlin, today.
“Today Vermont government is so much bigger; so much more intrusive than it was forty years ago that I hardly recognize it,” said Brock. “So full of regulations and red tape and the belief that government knows best. I’m not certain that I could start a business today, and for that business to survive, let alone prosper.”
Brock went on to describe the consequences of what he termed the irrational anatomization toward business, “Vermont has also become a maze of programs designed to redistribute wealth from one group to another. The tragedy of this, that liberal democrats don’t seem to understand, is that this welfare society buries people alive…. [We need to] break that cycle of dependency and give people a hope that only a job and a path to self-reliance can bring.”
Brock took his most vivid shot at Shumlin’s signature legislative initiative, healthcare reform, referring to Green Mountain Care as “Titanic Care.” As Brock noted, “It’s huge. It’s new. It’s untested. It’s got an overconfident captain who ignores the predictable dangers just below the surface. And it’s going to sink with all of us on board!”
Brock was also unique in calling for a coordinated campaign from the top of the ticket to the bottom. This is something grassroots activists have been yearning for for some time. Brock said he would work with any credible Republican candidate, and challenged the crowd, ““No Democrat should get a free ride in 2012.” Brock recognizes the fact winning only at the gubernatorial level, without legislative gains in the house and senate, would be a hollow victory. Republicans hold just 48 of the 150 seats in the House (it takes 51 to sustain a veto), and 8 of the 30 seats in the senate.
The crowd enthusiastically embraced Brock’s message. Brock’s challenge now is to carry that enthusiasm out of the hall and into the streets. As Randy Brock is fond of reminding folks, it’s 169 day ‘till election day.