Imagine a political party that truly cares about Vermonters and their families ó their struggles, their triumphs, their health and happiness, their economic success and prosperity; one that truly believes in individualism, individual liberties and personal responsibility; and one that protects our childrenís welfare and best interests.
Imagine a party that believes government has an important role to play ó a critical role of providing security and safety, of investing in infrastructure, and of ensuring programs and resources are in place to help those in need. But this same party also believes that such a role should be limited ó that government cannot, and should not, do everything.
Imagine a party that truly cares about the careful stewardship of our environment, and one that puts the needs of Vermonters ahead of special interests and political supporters.
Vermont once had a political party that defined and lived all of these characteristics. Not long ago, Vermont had a party that fought for these values.
That party was the Republican Party, and itís time to bring it back.
In recent years, proposal after proposal has been put forward that strip away our personal liberties and individual rights, and relegate personal responsibility to the back burner. At the same time, our state government has grown into something unrecognizable to our predecessors.
We need thoughtful, intelligent debate on the proposals put forward by others, yet instead of intelligent opposition, we sound lifeless and uninspiring ó and sometimes idiotic, angry and petty.
Of course, similar faults can be found in the Democratic Party, but thatís not my focus. I am a proud Republican and am no longer content to watch our party drift toward oblivion and become irrelevant in the discussions about the direction of our great state.
It is time we join together to reinvigorate, reinstitute and revive the Republican Party in Vermont.
These are important times, and we have serious issues to address. The Republican Party ó and its traditional values of caring for those in need, believing in the free-market system and individual liberties, caring about the environment, and ensuring all of our children have the best opportunities available ó must be part of the discussion and solutions.
In order to do so, however, we need to change.
We need to understand that government is not the enemy of our ideas or of the people. Government is, and should be, an instrument of the people, put in place to help those in need.
The other party has convinced Vermonters that its vision and ideas are better. I disagree.
Economic liberty and free enterprise, personal liberty and personal responsibility, and a limited, noninvasive government are the very ideals that help everyone and are the ones proven to work.
Vermont Republicans have a proud and accomplished tradition. But itís time to embrace the 21st century landscape.
Itís time to start anew; to break down and rebuild ourselves around our core, timeless principles of liberty and responsibility.
Itís time to acknowledge the demographic shift in Vermont; to understand Vermontersí priorities are different and their needs more complex.
Itís time to become leaders. Letís open our hearts and minds and listen to the voices of Vermonters. Letís speak out when we witness injustices. Letís work together, within our party, and with those in other parties, so that the very best policies for our great state are enacted. And letís do it with compassion and understanding.
As a political party, we are down. But our voice is necessary and our ideals sound. This is not about the Republican Party. This is about the state of Vermont and the needs of its people.
This is our moment. Letís embrace it.
Heidi E. Scheuermann represents Stowe in the Vermont House.
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