Monday, May 01, 2017

The Luxury Of Being Murphy And Blumenthal

Commentators and the general public will have noticed the deep trench, very much like a moat, that separates national and state politics. This severe separation is most evident among a state’s congressional delegation. It is, primarily, an assumed division of labor that demarcates zones of political influence. Only rarely, if at all, do U.S senators and congressmen comment on state politics. It might be interesting, though politically fatal, to hear U.S. Senators Chris Murphy or Dick Blumenthal comment on the present dilapidated state of their state. This will not happen. It very rarely happens that Connecticut’s Washington Beltway senators and congresspersons are asked: “Do you think, as does Governor Dannel Malloy, that Connecticut’s perpetual deficits should be reduced by means other than revenue increases?” Or “About that new ballpark in Hartford – a blessing or a curse?”

The senators and congresspersons in Connecticut’s all-Democratic U.S. Congressional Delegation have bigger fish to fry. In the post-Sandy Hook period, U.S. Senators Murphy and Blumenthal are consumed with preventing the National Rifle Association (NRA) from unduly influencing the U.S. Congress. They are far less interested in preventing state employee unions from unduly influencing Connecticut’s General Assembly.

Others have been elected to guard and oversee Connecticut’s castle. The members of the state’s U.S. Congressional Delegation have larger and, dare it be said? – more important responsibilities. This rigidly observed division of labor rule is waved somewhat during elections, when national politicians return home, full of vim and vigor, to take credit, like Chanticleer, for the rising and setting of the sun. Though Connecticut’s economy is chugging along in last place, the national economy likely will improve under the stewardship – Senators Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi permitting – of a resurgent GOP, which in the recently concluded elections captured  the White House and held in its grip both Houses of Congress. Caught between a rock, an irreducible progressive resurgence led by Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders and Wall Street scourge Elizabeth Warren, and a hard place, any rational defense of moderation among Democrats becomes a lonely and thankless pursuit. Mrs. Pelosi, who occasionally finds it necessary to defend capitalism against new-wave progressives, is now being challenged by anti-capitalists smitten with the Bernie bug.

In February 2017, the Observer reports, Mrs. Pelosi “revealed her disdain for progressives, telling a millennial Sanders' supporter who asked if the Democratic Party would embrace Sanders’ populist message: ‘Well, I thank you for your question, but I have to say we’re capitalists—that’s just the way it is.’ Pelosi then embarked on a tone-deaf rant, arguing that the solution was to make billionaires and millionaires more empathetic. ‘We have to change the thinking of people,’ she said. ‘The free market is a place that can do good things.’”

Progressives to Pelosi: Surrender or be besieged. Moderation in the pursuit of progressivism is no virtue; extremism in the pursuit of progressivism is no vice. And never mind that the progressive-socialist experiments in both Venezuela and Connecticut have conspicuously failed. Under a socialist regime, Venezuela has run out of toilet paper; and in Connecticut, under a progressive regime, Mr. Malloy has run out of revenue resources – save for some hedge fund millionaires huddled together in Connecticut’s shrinking “Gold Coast,” whose assets progressives in the General Assembly wish to appropriate, the better to lubricate special interests that reflexively vote Democrat. So plundered, these revenue resources in time will become rare as toilet paper and opposition parties in Venezuela. Even Mr. Malloy, the most progressive state governor since Wilbur Cross, fears that excessive taxation might throw HIS hedge fund managers into the arms of Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York or Republican Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts.

As the feeder streams of Connecticut’s revenue river continue to diminish – the state’s biennial deficit is now approaching (please sit down) $5 billion – the concerns of Mr. Murphy and Mr. Blumenthal seem even more remote from the cares and distresses of their belabored constituents.     

The political lives of Connecticut's seven Congressional Delegation Democrats float like transcendent clouds of unknowing above such parochial state concerns as rising deficits. There are five states that separate Connecticut from the Washington Beltway, buffer enough – and moats are everywhere. The largest moat is a political convention, now a tradition, according to which partisan members of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Delegation are reluctant to comment on the trials and tribulations in their home states.

If President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines rather than Mr. Malloy were the Democratic governor of Connecticut, no commentator in the state would dare approach Mr. Murphy or Mr. Blumenthal with a question concerning Mr. Duterte penchant for cannibalism from fear the governor, in retaliation, would eat their livers. Mr. Malloy is a lame duck, not Hannibal Duarte. And in the case of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Delegation, nothing stands between the state’s media and a cleansing interrogatory but a paper thin and pointless tradition.

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