The disputants fell into one of two pews: There were those on the left side of the church who, biting their knuckles, supposed the state was falling into the clutches of wicked national conservatives; and there were those, myself among them, on the right side of the church, who pointed out that the powers that be in the state, what ever the drift nationally, were moderate Republicans, a vanishing species, and left of center Democrats, with nary a conservative in sight.
Politically, Connecticut has rested for years -- now uneasily -- in the hands of liberal Democrats. Presently, the state legislature is full of progressives, captained in the House by a former union steward, the redoubtable Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, and in the senate by a committed progressive, Don Williams. The legislature has enough votes to override Governor Jodi Rell’s veto; and should anyone suppose that Rell has served as a breakwater preventing liberals from spending the state into penury, the last budget battle may disabuse them of his fantasy.
To avoid a political trap door, Rell refused to sign Connecticut’s spendthrift budget, intending to line-veto some expensive unnecessary earmarks. After the swollen spending budget passed through the legislature somewhat in the manner of a cow passing through innards of an anaconda, Rell was told she could not do this without having signed the budget. Check mate time had arrived, and the Queen – Snow White, as the Democrats preferred to call her – had been outflanked.
The budget passed by the veto proof Democratic majority, which relied for balance upon one time only revenue sources and a pocket full of smoke and mirrors, was found by Democratic state Comptroller Nancy Wyman to be out of balance by about a billion dollars, a figure that is certain to increase.
The final budget, recently pushed through the legislature by Williams and Donovan, is a $37.6 billion lodestone that disperses $18.64 billion this fiscal year and $18.93 billion in 2010-11.
Noting the many getting and spending problems in Connecticut, Moody’s has rated the state’s bonds down from 2AA to negative, a cold splash in the face for Democrats in the legislature who had hoped to patch their budget with a new progressive income tax and bubble gum.
The discussion at CLP evolved into a useful discourse on the many houses within the conservative movement; one is tempted to use the word “diversity” in this connection.
One Blogger was kind enough to provide a partial listing of some of the well appointed chambers:
The proposition that the conservative movement hath many mansions, somewhat like Heaven, was stoutly defended by another blogger, ACR (Doug Hageman), a stalwart member of Connecticut’s Republican Central Committee.
My own contribution was to point out, with a bow to C. S. Lewis, that a thing seen from the inside is often very different than the same thing seen from the outside.
Most nutmeggers in the middle have received their information about conservatives from those who are hostile to it. The horns and tail with which the conservative movement in United States has been adorned is a rhetorical flourish necessity to those who wish to gather all the little unaffiliated chicks under their left wing.
One thing is absolutely certain: For the last half century in Connecticut politics, the state has been dominated by liberals and moderates; which is to say, the deciders, both inside and outside government, have been center left, and the engine that moves the center – a compliant and complacent media, unions, organized political groups – has been left of center.
Should anyone doubt this, let them rise to a challenge: Name three conservatives on the staff of the only state wide newspaper in Connecticut going back, say, 30 years. None will be able to point to a well organized conservative group of long standing in the state able to turn out as many votes as unions, or the Connecticut Citizen Action Group (CCAG), or… here may be included the whole alphabet soul of left of center groups that dot the state like mushrooms.
For liberals, left of center politicians, latte sipping, putatively “objective” commentators and former Rockefeller Republicans who prefer NPR to the toxic conservative radio talk show hosts, Connecticut is and has been a Garden of Eden; which is another way of saying that liberals have been unimpeded in their largely successful effort to spend the state back into the dark ages, while charging the bill to millionaires and mini-millionaires.
That’s a short way of saying that, whatever the economic or social problems besetting the state, it ain’t the fault of conservatives. Broadly speaking, conservatives have never in Connecticut had their turn at political bat. The sense among easily spooked defenders of the status quo in Connecticut is that into this garden now creeps a snake. The winds of change outside the usual safe liberal precincts have ruffled the feathers of those who duty it is to cooperate with the present system.
There are two kinds of Republicans in Connecticut: satisfied Republicans and dissatisfied Republicans. There are in the state two kinds of Democrats: satisfied Democrats and dissatisfied Democrats. There is an inchoate feeling among some political watchers, so far untutored by sound research, that the growing pool of independents in the state is fed from these two tributaries. It is the secret dream of all political organizers within both major parties to adapt their parties in a way so as to capture this growing pool of voters. This is not possible without changing either of the major parties in such a way as to make both of them uninviting to their present members.
People who don’t like the way things are going in Connecticut ought, purely as a practical matter, to hitch up with the conservative or libertarian movement -- because these are the only practical engines of change within the state.
But, you say, you are not a conservative; you are cold on libertarianism; you prefer to get along by paying the dhimmie tax of the reigning power. Very well. Political ecumenism does not require you to join a church. Conservative doors have no locks and bars on them. They are organizations, political instruments, tools. Look upon them as opportunities for change, if that is what you desire. If you do not desire change, I am afraid I must play the bearer of bad news: The tide of change is on its way to your doorstep all the same. This is especially true in Connecticut, where the state, after years of coasting, has set its foot on a sharp down-slope that even progressives such as Ned Lamont – the heartthrob of the left who challenged and beat Sen. Joe Lieberman in a primary -- find as dangerous as it is slippery. Casting off his mask as the darling of the far left, Lamont is now exploring a run for governor. Should he or someone like him be successful, what reason have you to believe that he or his kind will not yield to the blandishments of a Speaker Donovan or a President Pro Tem of the state Senate Williams?
Last week, I wandered into a book store in Farmington. My wife and I delivered a Oreck vacuum cleaner for repair in the area, and were told by a repairman who took pity on us, because we had traveled some distance, that if we hung around for an hour, he would have it ready for us.
So, we drifted across the street to Borders; and there, near the coffee section, we came upon that old anti-corporatist war horse Ralph Nader holding forth before a small crowd of titulated onlookers and potential clients.
Nader was doing what he has done from time immemorial: He was persuading the corporate community, this time by means of a novel he had written, to join him in an effort to disenfranchise the corporate community by giving him millions of dollars. Apparently Walter Buffet is one of the anti- Ayn Randian characters in Nader’s new novel. The moneyed class is anxious to serve.
“All we need,” Nader told the crowd, “is about eight billionaires” to finance his utopia, a command economy in which benevolent bureaucrats would direct corporations what to produce from a Washington DC platform empty of lobbyists.
Give be your billions, Nader instructs the billionaires in his novel and atop the political stump from which he has been pontificating his entire adult life -- I’ll do the rest.
And they do, they do. The Connecticut Citizen Action Group founded by Nader and then Connecticut congressman Toby Moffett, plucks its money from wealthy gardens in West Hartford, New Canaan and Greenwich. The Gold Coast is anxious to help.
Why do they do it?
Perhaps on the gibbet, the last billionaire – for there will be none, nor millionaires either, in Nader’s dystopian economic universe – will have the pleasure of saying no to his destruction... or not.
There must be better charities than this to give to. There must be places that will use these misdirected givings to a better purpose than to buying rope with which to hang millionaires and mini-millionaires; and if there is not such a group here in Connecticut, a few hundreds thousand – billions are not necessary, though certainly they will be grateful accepted – may produce one.
It cannot happen too soon.