Friday, January 12, 2018

Red Notes From a Blue State - A Wrinkle In The Democratic Playing Field

A Wrinkle In The Democratic Playing Field

Political prospects do not look bright for Democrats in 2018.

They will be carrying a heavy load. When Governor Dannel Malloy does step aside in January 2019, he will have left behind him a state in near collapse. The use of the word “collapse” here is not intended metaphorically. By almost any measure, Connecticut is a state with its feet firmly planted on the road to ruination. It is the only state the nation that has not yet recovered from a national recession that officially ended in June 2009.

There are many reasons for this, but the principal one is: the state cannot rely on tax increases to discharge future indebtedness. The tax well has dried up. Both companies and people have for some time past been voting with their feet against a tsunami of tax increases. The Weicker income tax in 1991 has been followed by Malloy’s two tax increases, the largest and the second largest in state history.

The present condition of the state is a heavy ball and chain for any Democrat – but most especially a progressive Democrat – to drag though what promises to be a hotly contested election. All the important indicators point to an effective Republican Party insurgency. Republicans are now even with Democrats in the State Senate, and they are drawing near to even in the State House.

It may seem odd to think of Malloy as a ball and chain. He steamed into office as a fire belching progressive -- as did President Barack Obama. It takes a while for the evil chief executives to show up on the political radar screen. Obama was a progressive, Malloy was a progressive. The state of Connecticut has been a progressive Democratic Party hegemon for far longer than Malloy’s two terms in office. Much of New England is a progressive political bastion, which is why Barry Goldwater, a 24K conservative, once said, “If you lop off California and the east coast, you’ve got a pretty good country.”

The question foremost on people’s mind is: can Republicans in Connecticut rely on the bitter winter of our discontent to blow them into office?

No, they can’t. Can Republicans rely on the failed policies of Democrats to win the governorship and one or two houses of the General Assembly? The answer is no. The question reduces to this:  Can Republicans win elections on the cheap? The answer is no. That was tried unsuccessfully with two Tom Foley gubernatorial campaigns. In his first campaign, Foley lost to Malloy by 6,400 votes, a squeaker. In his second campaign, Foley lost by 25,000 votes. 

This time around, Republicans will have to commit to radical changes in tax collection, spending and government operations. Nor is it any longer possible to avoid speaking of the thousand pound union pink-elephant in the room. Republicans, outnumbered by registered Democrats two to one, cannot hope to win the governorship and at least one House of the General Assembly by conceding to Democrats, without a principled struggle, half the battleground on social issues. There are no economic issues that are not also social issues. There are no social issues that are not also economic issues, as Malcolm X observed before he was assassinated by the Islamic terrorists of his day.

Don Pesci's Profile Photo, Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
Author Don Pesci

The possible entrée into the gubernatorial field of former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz introduces a principle of uncertainty.

To read the rest of Don's commentary, visit his web site.

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