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Taking The Fifth, After Esty

Whether or not U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty will serve the remainder of her term or resign immediately is very much an open question. But, in any case, the battle for Connecticut’s 5th U.S. Congressional District has begun with a show of unexpected fireworks.

For many years, the 5th District was a toss-up proposition; both Republicans and Democrats have held and surrendered the seat. Geographically the 5th District touches the border of New York from Connecticut’s northern-most point to Danbury in the southern quadrant and includes much of Litchfield county and parts of Fairfield, Hartford and New Haven counties. Party affiliation is competitive, in round figures, 30 percent Democrat, 25 percent Republican and 45 percent unaffiliated. Over the years, the Democrat Party in Connecticut has moved from the center to the left, but the 5th District has been a moderate preserve. During the Obama presidential election, Republican moderates within Connecticut's U.S. Congressional elections fell to progressives in the Democratic Party.

Speaker of the State House of Representatives Chris Donovan ran for the seat in 2012 but was forced to bow out in a primary after his finance chief had been arrested for corruption. Democrats then turned their weary eyes to Esty, whose political background was rather shallow. With considerable money and media support, Esty narrowly prevailed over Republican congressional candidate Andrew Roraback in the general election. A socially liberal, economic conservative, Roraback mirrored other Republicans who had held the seat. Having lost to Esty, he later was appointed to the Superior Court bench by Malloy. Earlier in 2008, Democrat Presidential candidate Barack Obama carried Connecticut by 22.4% margin of victory. Every county in the state, including reliably Republican Litchfield, voted for Obama, whose luster remained bright during much of his presidency.

Now that Esty’s candidacy for the 5th District has crashed and burned, the seat once again has become competitive. Following the Esty debacle, the Cook Report downgraded Democrat chances of retaining the seat from “reliably Democrat” to “likely Democrat.” The report notes, “In 2016, it [the 5th District] voted for Hillary Clinton 50 percent to 46 percent, down from President Obama's eight-point margin in 2012. And the last time the seat came open in 2012, Esty won a highly competitive race against moderate GOP state Sen. Andrew Roraback 51 percent to 49 percent.”

The report does not note that Governor Dannel Malloy, who may be defending his failed progressive agenda in 2018 from the bench, is highly unpopular. Democratic moderates, the center of political activity for many years in the state’s Democratic Party, have all but disappeared, and people in Connecticut, dissatisfied with the usual authoritarian Democrat hegemon, seem to be in a rebellious mood. During the eight years of the Malloy administration, many people in the state have come to associate progressivism with ever higher taxes, diminished revenues, chronic deficits, the flight of entrepreneurs from Connecticut, absurd political posturing, the continuing social deterioration of the state’s cities, and a view of reality grossly distorted by progressive political considerations.

The real cause of Esty’s downfall is so obvious it may be missed by those high on subtlety. It’s obvious even to a dunce that Esty is not unconcerned with women’s rights, as such rights have been articulated by second-wave feminists.  The fiercest critic of denaturized second wave feminism, Camille Paglia, author of (ITALICS) Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (END ITALICS) and most recently (ITALICS) Free Women, Free men: Sex, Gender, Feminism (END ITAICS), should be more widely read, particularly by those who fear second-wave feminists may have murdered the feminist movement.

What we see increasingly in modern politics is moral collapse. Everywhere the moral conscience is buried in an avalanche of process. In the post-modern world, there is for every presumed evil  a corrective process, usually initiated by busy-body, empathetic moral avatars. Esty could not bear to OWN moral governance, always a burdensome weight. Virtue is embodied in acts, not feelings. The moral actor IS the process. Personal conscience is the process, and the more we rely on boards of ethics to intervene in moral collisions, the more atrophied our own moral sense becomes. Esty surrendered her moral sense the moment she said she would turn to an ethics board to verify whether she had acted responsibly by exposing a brutalized member of her staff to a favored brute.

“In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function,” C. S. Lewis warned us in his book (ITALICS) The Abolition Of Man (END ITALICS). We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

There is the problem, and the absence of a moral sense – a true moral pilot – cannot be supplied by a process, however ingenious.


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