Here in the United States, we supposed we had washed our hands of aristocratic pretensions after the American Revolution. So packed with aristocrats was France prior to its own revolution that the sans culottes had to resort to the guillotine to rid the country of the pestilence. The absence of aristocrats following the French Terror paved the way for Napoléon Bonaparte, which paved the way for a restoration of the monarchy and the consequent re-emergence of French aristocrats. The same road to power was traced in imperial Rome following the destruction of the Roman Republic.
Though a bloodline aristocracy in the United States was never possible, George Washington and many of the founders feared the emergence of a political aristocracy. When Napoleon, First Council of France and later Emperor, heard Washington was to retire as President to return to Mount Vernon, thus refusing a permanent directorship, he said that, if Washington did this, he would be the greatest man his own age had yet produced. Vain himself, Napoleon knew vanity makes great men think they are indispensable, and vanity, the pleasant illusion that life cannot go on without the intervention of personal genius, is a trap door to all sorts of calamities.
A democratic republic has no need of either bloodline aristocrats or a permanent political ruling class. Americans have instinctively opposed a permanent or semi-permanent ruling class by throwing up four bars against it. Constitutions to which the founders pledge their sacred honor, lives and fortunes; deeply held republican traditions, including religious prohibitions; frequent elections that plow under the ruling class; and a healthy two party rivalry have thus far combined to prevent the American governing stream from being clotted with political aristocrats.
Taking stock of politics in Connecticut during the past few decades, we see a steady erosion of Republican Party support accompanied by a rise of progressivism. Both major political parties in Connecticut are outnumbered by independents, and the Democratic Party boasts twice as many registered voters as the Republican Party. All the members of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Delegation in Washington and all the Constitutional officers in Connecticut are Democrats, Governor Dannel Malloy is a Democrat and the nominal head of the state’s Democratic Party and Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state’s General Assembly, holding 21 of 36 seats in the Senate and 87 of 64 seats in the House.
As a practical political matter, effective political rivalry in Connecticut has been all but eliminated. Mr. Malloy and Democratic majorities in the General Assembly have produced biennial budgets that bear no Republican fingerprints. All the Malloy budgets were hammered out by the Governor, union leaders from SEBAC and the two Democrat leaders in the General Assembly -- behind closed doors in the absence of any public exposure. Not until he became Emperor of France did Napoleon deploy such unearthly power. Mr. Malloy is answerable only to his conscience, and an immovable political conscience, as we all know, is imperious, self-glorifying and nearly always injurious to democratic rule.
Progressivism, moreover, is the doctrine that everything BUT government should be regulated. The usual bars to political presumption – tradition, Constitutional provisions, and disastrous practical consequences – all fall to the progressive sword. Every tyrant on earth -- the half-mad Caesars of Rome, Napoleon himself, Stalin in Russia, Hitler in Germany/Austria, Mao in China, the Castro brothers in Cuba – were during their day progressive vanguards, spearheading the future. And all of them were radical anti-republicans.
“Every profession,” George Bernard Shaw used to say, “is a conspiracy against the laity.” In coming days, the laity in Connecticut will just have to get used to professional politicians operating in a one party state who – good progressives all – are concerned chiefly with devising means that allow them to overleap preventative barriers.
When Mr. Malloy barred Republicans from participating in the formation of his two budgets, Connecticut’s commentators disregarded the whimpering cries of Republicans. When budget implementer bills were used to smuggle past the General Assembly measures only distantly related to bills affirmed by the legislature, some gently shook their heads is dismay, but the protests could hardly be described as raucous. When Mr. Malloy submitted to the General Assembly an imbalanced budget that raised taxes considerably – this after pledging in a re-election campaign to submit a budget balanced not on the backs of taxpayers but rather by means of shared sacrifices made by cosseted unions – the protests coming from editorial boards across the state were mildly disapproving.
When major businesses in the state, stepping out of character, protested that unrestrained spending, burdensome regulations and entrepreneurially sapping taxes were enticing them to consider moving elsewhere, they were in effect called crybabies by the two uber-progressive leaders in the Democrat controlled General Assembly. Following the ruckus, President Pro Tem of the Senate Martin Looney, Speaker of the State House Brendan Sharkey and Mr. Malloy decided to waive temporarily the imposition of some business punishing taxes. United Technologies has now cut the ties that bind it to Sikorsky, which foreshadows a sale of the company, some say to Lockheed; responding to the strictures imposed on insurance companies by Obamacare, Aetna and Humana have now conglomerated, thus opening the possibility that yet another large Connecticut insurer, Cigna, may soon be swallowed up by Anthem, the nation’s second largest health insurer.
But all this economic folderol cannot shake the resolve of the committed progressive, who is out to save you in spite of yourself. When the sun finally does rise on a more progressive Connecticut, the state, once known as the land of steady habits, will have been re-invented by the Malloy-Sharkey-Looney triumvirate. To be sure, taxpayers will be forced to shoulder more taxes and debt, but there will be a bike path in every pot.