A great responsibility

Thursday December 13, 2012

As part of its centennial celebration, the Reformer is rerunning content that appeared in previous issues. The following editorial, which was published on Nov. 8, 1962, followed a vote in which Democrat Philip Hoff won the governor’s seat. The Democratic Party in Vermont has reason to glow with pride as the state moved closer to a two-party system in Tuesday’s elections. Having won the top office in the state, and the only one they publicly said months ago they were going to concentrate on, they can look forward to two years of major influence in the state’s political affairs. This assumes, of course, that the recount will sustain the narrow margin of victory.

They (and the "they" is to a large extent State Chairman Jack Spencer) have moved the state closer to the two-party system, but not all the way. Outside the gubernatorial race, the strength of the two parties was still reflected by the considerable difference in numbers of party voters. This difference was not reflected in the gubernatorial race, of course, because of the opportunity for dissident Republicans to mark an "independent" vote for Philip Hoff if they didn’t choose to split the ticket as many Republicans apparently were willing to do.

Thus, the Democrats have garnered the governorship (after 108 years of trying) with the appreciable help of voters outside their party confines. They have acquired some of the burden of responsibility, which goes with high office, and they still have the task of selling the party itself to more Vermont voters in order to narrow the gap in numbers.

Their responsibility and problems are compounded by the very realistic fact that the 1964 state elections will come in a presidential year, which will be very much to the advantage of the Republicans through the additional numbers of voters it will motivate to get off their fannies and appear at the polling places.

One may assume that Mr. Hoff and Mr. Spencer are as aware as we of the probability that the next two years of wielding gubernatorial powers may be only an interlude between Republican administrations. We trust they also would agree that this probability (or possibility, if they prefer it that way) calls for great care and discretion in wielding their powers, especially of appointment of departmental heads and board chairmen. Orderly government by experienced career officials is not only of vital importance to the state but also to the Democratic Party by the image it creates in carrying out its new and massive responsibilities.

Republicans and Democrats have common cause at this historic moment in Vermont in hoping governor Hoff will not be exposed to unnecessary and selfish partisan pressures, and that if he is, he will have the strength and wisdom to withstand them.


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