The theory went something like this: Governor Dannel Malloy’s approval rating in his home state was scraping the bottom of the barrel at about 24 percent; Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was certain to bury know-nothing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in the general election; Mr. Malloy, an ardent Clintonista, would move into an appropriate slot in the victor’s cabinet; he then would have an opportunity to personally select his successor, most likely Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman; Mrs. Clinton’s gravitational mass would draw other Democrats into Connecticut’s General Assembly; and eventually the state, listing badly and taking on water, would right itself. Happy days would be here again. Birds would be singing, the flower would be driven through the green fuse, angels in Heaven would shout hosanna. The nation and the state would be saved.
Then, as November 8 gave way to November 9, reality struck a fatal blow. Mr. Trump was elected the most popular Republican candidate in history, bringing in over 62.4 million votes. He secured victories in at least 83 percent of the counties in the United States. Throwing President Barack Obama and Mrs. Clinton into the mix, Mr. Trump became, according to The Inquisitr, a global aggregator site, “the only popular vote candidate among the three to receive success in more than 25 percent of the county-level vote, a victory that has all but been overlooked in the media due to the popular vote margin and recount initiatives.” It was the capturing of counties that furnished Mr. Trump with an unsurpassable electoral lead over Mrs. Clinton.
If the Electoral College had been scrapped prior to the election, Mrs. Clinton would have won the presidency with only 15-17 percent of counties across the United States in her corner, a point overlooked by those major media outlets that favor the abolition of the Electoral College, instituted by the founders of the country because they did not wish a few populous states to determine national elections. All this was lost on the new never-Trumpers, bitter losers who demanded what is perhaps the most redundant electoral recount in U.S. history.
Here in Connecticut, the Trump victory has forced a political recalculation among Democrats and pundits.
There are murmurs that Mr. Malloy will now seek re-election in 2018. Given Mr. Malloy’s dismal approval ratings, the parlous condition of Connecticut following Mr. Malloy’s two massive tax increases, the political impossibility of yet another third massive tax increase, the consequent ill-considered across the board reductions in state spending that adversely impact the most needy among us, the state’s continuing massive deficits, the flight of Connecticut businesses to other more welcoming states, the loss to other states of young entrepreneurs, the lowering of the state’s bond ratings, an unwillingness on the part of dominant Democrats to confront a continuing escalation in the cost of labor on the part of state employee unions, the disfavor shown to majority Democrats by voters who during the last few elections have reduced Democratic majorities in both houses of the General Assembly, and the unwillingness of a dwindling Democratic majority in the General Assembly to confront reality realistically -- what is the possibility, Democrats and pundits now are asking, that Mr. Malloy will step down at the end of his term?
The possibility is not very good. There is no effective Democratic challenger in the wings. The modern evocation of the progressive idea may be a dead branch. If the question is "What do progressives want?" the answer is -- MORE. There is no “More” in Connecticut’s kitty, and the national debt was doubled during Mr. Obama’s progressive administration.
Then too, it is extremely difficult to force a sitting governor to surrender his ambitions. It does happen. When then Governor William O’Neill threw in the gubernatorial sponge a quarter century ago, he was replaced not by a Democrat but by a Republican horse of a different color, and it was not long before the New York Times was spreading the bad news that Connecticut’s deficit was larger than anyone had supposed: “The new projection released by Mr. O'Neill said the state would collect $2.1 billion less than it planned to spend in fiscal 1991-1992 if it kept services at their current levels.”
Mr. Weicker’s new income tax relieved the pressure on legislators to cut spending, and the level of spending in Connecticut rose over the years in proportion to increases in tax revenue, doubling Mr. O’Neill’s piddling budget. Cloven-hoofed deficits reappeared -- repeatedly. The last pre-income tax deficit was about $1.5 billion; the current projected deficit is a bit shy of that. “The more things change,” the French say, “the more they remain the same.”
The French maxim is true of a change designed by incumbent politicians who want things to remain as they are. The recent change in the national government shows us what a change not designed in the Washington Beltway looks like. Some politician-lashed voters in Connecticut are longing for just such a change.