Monday, June 11, 2018

Themis Alive

Some time ago, Republican leader in the State House Themis Klarides reminded a reporter that she was Greek. Her first name, she said, meant “justice.”

That was almost right. Themis was an ancient Greek Titaness, the “lady of good counsel,” a personification of divine order, fairness, law, natural law and custom. The name Themis literally means “that which is put in place.” The symbols by which Themis is known are the scales of justice, tools in the ontological order that assure balance.

Balance is the baseline in the Greek cosmos according to which right order is measured. To know whether a thing is right and just – morally, legally, ethically, religiously, secularly, atheistically -- one must have more than a nodding acquaintance with reality. Idle dreaming is a fatal threat to right order. Political visions – modern politics is consumed with visions the ancient Greeks might have considered nightmares – are justifiable and practical only when they take into account the reality of life on the ground. Therefore, the best and most just politician is the one most solidly grounded in reality.

Klarides does not have her feet firmly planted in the clouds. She has more than a decent respect for reality and truth. And while she may be willing to suffer fools gladly, she is not willing to afford foolishness the same compassionate tolerance.

Klarides, along with Democrat Speaker of House the Joe Aresimowicz, appeared recently on Tom Dudchik’s Capitol Report.

Dudchik cited a report in the Boston Globe: “If all politics is local in the era of Tip O’Neill, the reverse may be true under Trump.” He then turned to Democrat Speaker of the State House Joe Aresimowicz and asked, “How big an issue are you going to make Trump?” And to Klarides, “What do you think about the issue?”

Aresimowicz: I’m not going to make that an issue…

Klarides: (scoffing) Oh, that’s not true (laughter from all).

Aresimowicz: We’re not Washington. We will listen to each other. We have to work with each other. When we can find common ground, we will. But now it’s about who has the best vision for the state of Connecticut, and who’s going to move it forward. Who do you want to align your political beliefs with? That’s what I’m going to be talking about.

Klarides: Well, I will tell you: I think this will be a fight between who is more unpopular, Governor Malloy or President Trump. Clearly, Governor Malloy is more unpopular. But I … It’s very frustrating to me to have to answer to what the President is doing or saying. If he does something I like, I say he is. If he does something I don’t like, I say I don’t. But the frustration here is this: Let’s remember something very clearly. There has been a Democrat governor for eight years, and there has been a Democrat controlled House and Senate for about 40 years. If Connecticut was booming, if businesses wanted to come here, if there were job after job and people had more money in their pockets – my good colleague (Aresimowicz) who I like very much – but our vision is a little bit different as to what the state should be doing – they [Democrats] would be pounding their chests, saying the following: We have brought this state back, and a Democrat governor and a Democrat controlled legislature [are responsible for the recovery]. The words Donald Trump would never be mentioned. But they can’t – because they have single-handedly ruined the state. And I do agree with him. We have done some bipartisan budgets. But as much as he and I like each other personally, the only reason we’ve done Democrat and Republican budgets is that there is only a four seat difference in the House and a tie in the Senate. That is the reality. It has nothing to do with the deficit. And that’s where we are.

The most important part of Klarides’ response to Dudchik’s question is, “And that’s where we are.”

A vision detached from reality does not produce a corresponding corrective reality; it produces havoc, disorder and the justifiable wrath of Themis, the “lady of good counsel.”

Reality is simply the sum of occurring events and their inevitable consequences. Perhaps the most banal expression in modern politics is “moving things forward,” rather as if it were possible to move present events into the past. The question that must be decided in the upcoming election is not a matter of the glittering vision we might prefer. Politics is the art of the possible. Forty years of Democrat hegemony in the General Assembly and two terms in office of one of the least popular governors in Connecticut history have made nightmares of political visions. Voters in Connecticut, Republicans hope, have awakened; they are hungry for real solutions to real problems.

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