Sunday, January 24, 2016

Where Have All The Democratic Moderates Gone?

William Butler Yeats
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity –
William Butler Yeats

The split in the national Republican Party on the right has been visible for months, while the split among Democrats on the left has not been as publicly evident. But it is there, rankling just beneath the surface of the Democratic Party, and every so often the horned beast shows itself.

At present, two Democrats, one a socialist and the other a progressive, are jousting with each other for “the soul of the Democratic Party.” Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic Presidential nominee, and Bernie Sanders, America’s version of a European Democratic Socialist, have appeared in a few venues, infrequently striking each other with palm fronds. What is most notable in these too friendly confrontations is the unanimity on important issues. Sliding leftward, perhaps to appease Sanders’ supporters, Mrs. Clinton has pulled out all the stops on gun regulations -- she’s for it, lock stock and barrel -- and she is vigorously supporting a measure that will force orthodox Christians to pay for all forms of abortion, even the kind of later term abortion that Daniel Patrick Moynihan condemned as “too close to infanticide” to support. In Connecticut’s media during days when moderates had standing within the Democratic Party, such positions as Mrs. Clinton now fulsomely embraces would have been considered extreme.  The Democratic Party has been captured by the far left, which brings to the foreground a question little asked these days: Where have all the Democratic moderates gone… long time passing?

Come to think of it, the same questions may be asked of the Democratic Party here in Connecticut’s one-party state: Where are the Ella Grasso/ Bill O’Neill Democrats?

The political template has changed. What used to be called in the state Democratic Party “the vital center” has moved far to the left. Democratic Governors O’Neill and Grasso would have gagged on a spoon before bringing themselves to announce their support of a card carrying socialist candidate for President and, traditional moral rectitude not yet having moved off center in the land of steady habits, both might have had a problem with Hillary Clinton’s husband and his sloppy sexual habits. Within the state Democratic Party, the vital center – meaning moderate Democrats concerned about improvident spending and a business-throttling  tax and regulatory apparatus – is little more than a heap of smoldering ruins.

General Electric has left the state; large companies native to the state have merged with out-of-state companies that have little emotional attachment to Connecticut and, as out-migration continues, the remaining middle class will be forced to shoulder a tax burden once carried by broad-shouldered Connecticut businesses that now have their eyes fixed on the exit signs. 

Left out in the cold are former Democratic moderates or, the preferred term among conservatives, Reagan Democrats. Nationally, Donald Trump – not a conservative and possibly not a Republican -- is pitching his message to “the silent majority,” a catch basin term used by former President Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon to gather in disenfranchised Democrats who were unwilling to allow a vocal minority in their party to abandon the long twilight struggle against totalitarianism.

Unlike the moderate Democratic Party of yesteryear, Connecticut’s current party is hegemonic. Constructing perpetually out-of-balance budgets, Mr. Malloy, the rescission governor, numerous times has banned bipartisan input from Republicans. During a recent budget session, Mr. Malloy invited Republican leaders to help balance one of his chronically unbalanced budgets, but this was merely for show, said Republican House leader Themis Klarites: “The Senate President and the Speaker of the House are just as bad as the Governor in regards to these fiscal policies in the state. They brought [Republican legislators] into the room to debate and negotiate, not because they really thought we should be in there but because they wanted our fingerprints on the murder weapon. I know that seems very extreme but it’s the truth. I look at this as a crime perpetrated on the state of Connecticut.”

Mr. Malloy pressed through the dominant Democratic General Assembly a bill that abolished the death penalty in Connecticut – this a few months after a mass murder in Cheshire and a few weeks before another mass murder in Sandy Hook. Despite unpopular measures restricting the purchase of guns by law abiding citizens that were copied and promoted without much success by Mr. Obama, Hartford, where all the politicians gather to boost taxes and write costly regulations,  was named several weeks ago as the murder Capital of New England.  

When General Electric (GE) left the state for Massachusetts, citing high taxes and crippling regulations as reasons for the move, Mr. Malloy sighed, “You win some, you lose some.” And his subalterns in the General Assembly still insist that Connecticut’s ever mounting tax arc and a new “unitary” tax aimed at large tax scofflaws such as GE had nothing to do with the move to Massachusetts. GE moved, it is said, because Massachusetts’ crony capitalist governor was more aggressive that Connecticut’s crony capitalist governor.

The eccentric center of Connecticut’s Democratic hegemon cannot hold.
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