The state Democratic Party, much wealthier than the state Republican Party, is now spending some of its dollars on imported gunslingers such as James Hallinan, a political hessian hired by party central to throw mud at Republican candidates for governor, a certain sign that the election season is upon us. Democrats in Connecticut hold all the state’s constitutional offices, have veto proof majorities in the General Assembly, and presently have in their campaign coffers 14 times more cash than Republicans.
Some of the mudslinging has backfired. Even a few liberal commentators have winced at the slops that regularly cross their news desks but, as Cardinal John Henry Newman once said, “Throw enough mud and some will stick – stick but not stain.”
Governor Dannel Malloy’s low rating in the polls, some commentators have noted, may give Republicans an opportunity to win back the governorship, last held by Jodi Rell, Mr. Malloy’s polar opposite. Mr. Malloy is a pro-union, left of center politician; Mrs. Rell, a creature of the legislature, was a moderate Republican of a kind that once held office in most of New England, the land that conservatism forgot. Barry Goldwater, the Will Rogers of the modern conservative movement, used to say, “If you cut off New England and California, you’ve got a pretty good country.”
For reasons not yet explored by any of New England’s major research institutions, the moderate Republican in New England has become something of a vanishing species. In Connecticut, the species is as extinct as the Dodo bird. All the members of Connecticut U.S. Congressional delegation are left of center progressives, some more brash than others. U.S. Senator Chris Murphy shouts his progressivism from the rooftops, but then he is likely to moderate his tone when he next faces voters in three years. U.S. Representative Jim Himes is more discreet; he travels among progressives with his ideology tucked into the breast pocket of his expensive looking suit. Hip U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro is fearless, as anyone would be in a district that has not elected a Republican to the U.S. House in more than 30 years; ditto U.S. Representative John Larson of the gerrymandered 1st District, last held by a Republican nearly 60 years ago.
Whatever may be ailing the Republican Party in Connecticut, its losses cannot be attributed to conservative incumbents. There are none, though there is little doubt that Democrats running for office in 2014 will be banging the drums loudly against fictitious conservative threats and Tea Party “extremists,” northern Republicans clinging desperately to their guns, their wallets and their bibles – that sort of thing. The 2014 Democratic campaign script, however fantastic its claims, has already been written, much of it in Washington D.C. and Chicago, where President Barack Obama’s former campaign script writers hold court. Chicago is the murder capital of the United States, and the Democratic Party War Room in Washington D.C. is party central for propaganda that will be picked up by state parties.
Political reality in Connecticut is quite different than in other parts of the country. Here in the land of steady progressive habits, the Democratic Party has almost completely routed Republicans, especially in large, one-party cities such as New Haven, which this year had the distinction of electing as mayor a Democratic Party fixture whose husband, now diseased, was the top tax scofflaw in the city over which his wife, Toni Harp, now presides.
Speeding her plow in a Democratic primary were the usual notables: Governor Dannel Malloy, author of the largest tax increase in Connecticut history, U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal, for more than 20 years a crusading Attorney General who, in his former position, used to scowl fiercely at folk who avoided paying their fair share of taxes, and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, the National Rifle Association’s bête noir.
In one party states, politicians working the media get to choose not only their friends but their enemies as well – and never mind that the “enemy” is largely a Potemkin Village fiction. The Tea Party in Connecticut presents a greater threat to RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) than to progressive Democrats. And for this reason, they can be safely attacked by incumbent Democrats who never met a constitutional bulwark they could not leap over. Economic conservatives among Republican campaigners become poorer than Democrats in direct proportion to their defense of rational budgets, spending cuts and appeals to the self-interests of entrepreneurial wealth producers. This is an arc that has been visible over skies in Connecticut for more than 50 years.
Is it not a wonder that only a handful of reporters, editors and commentators in the state have noticed the debt pots at each end of the progressive rainbow? When, at the end of the downward plunge, Connecticut inevitably becomes the Venezuela of New England – Crumbling Venezuela was once considered the Paris of Latin America, but not even Paris is Paris anymore – those rooted in the rubble may well ask the tribunes of the people, “Why did you not warn us of the impending disaster?”