Last week, the Courant’s Kevin Rennie opined that the results of the Democratic primaries, in which three incumbent Mayors were ousted in Hartford, Bridgeport, and New London, “hold an important lesson for Republicans.”
As a former Republican and, as of two years ago, a former Democrat (call me a disgusted unaffiliated who registers in whichever party I feel my primary vote will have the most impact), I’m interested to see what lessons Connecticut Republicans take away.
Sadly, the lesson that the Connecticut GOP appears to be taking away for the last three decades is: “We lost because we weren’t conservative enough. We need to become even more conservative.”
What’s more, their definition of “conservative” has been social conservatism.
One wonders if the Connecticut GOP feels the necessity to take its cues from the national GOP in order to stay relevant within the whole. But looking at both the lack of electoral success on the state level and the current state of the national party, one has to ask if that’s been a particularly wise course of action.
Despite amusing claims from commenters on CTNewsJunkie that I’m a “socialist” and “someone on the (left) fringe,” I come from a Republican home, something I’ve been reminded of again as my siblings and I go through the painful process of clearing out our late mother’s apartment.
I canvassed for Dad in the late 1970’s when he ran for Stamford Board of Reps (going door to door was torture for this shy, Atlas Shrugged reading-teen). Elected to office twice, he wasn’t called a RINO for voting for improved public housing.
I grew out of my Ayn Rand obsession when I realized the world is far more nuanced and its inhabitants infinitely more layered than she portrayed in her books. But there’s one point upon which I’m still in agreement with Rand, one she made in her
“The appalling disgrace of his administration is his connection with the so-called Moral Majority and sundry other TV religionists, who are struggling, apparently with his approval, to take us back to the Middle Ages via the unconstitutional union of religion and politics. The threat to the future of capitalism is the fact that Reagan might fail so badly, that he will become another ghost like Herbert Hoover, to be invoked as an example of capitalism’s failure for the next fifty years.”
As I watched the GOP presidential candidates in the recent debate GOP at the Reagan Library try to out-fundamentalist each other, Rand’s words seemed even more prescient. Alleged “conservative” Mike Huckabee went so far as to say that we should ignore the Supreme Court’s decision on same sex marriage — although not, apparently, their decision on that corporate money equals speech, which is more offensive to most Americans. By some twisted “logic” that’s different in Gov. Huckabee’s mind, yet he claims that it’s the judges of the Supreme Court who didn’t pass 9th grade civics.
I reached out to Anne Flounders, the daughter of my late father’s Stamford District 13 running mate, Burt Flounders. We’re educated, successful, career women, brought up by Republican fathers who were elected to public office. We both registered Republican and voted Republican in our early voting lives, but cannot fathom the thought of doing so now.
Anne says: “I voted for Bush in 1988, my first presidential election. But then I actually started paying attention and learning more, and became aware of the Republican stand on issues such as women’s rights and equality. I realized they really didn’t match my feelings and beliefs, so I made the switch at age 20.”
Now the Republicans want to shut down the Federal government — something American voters oppose 69-23 percent, including 56-36 percent among Republicans — over funding for Planned Parenthood. That’s according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released Monday.
On this at least, Ayn Rand was right. Reagan started this social conservative train, and 30 years later, in his library and now in Congress, we’re witnessing the party of Lincoln being driven off the cliff as a result.
The Connecticut GOP could change that. New England Republicans had a proud tradition of being different. The question is, do they still have the courage to be different?
I wish they would. Rep. Terrie Wood, R-Darien, was the keynote speaker at a dinner event I attended last year. She observed that a state dominated by one party isn’t healthy, be it Democrats in Connecticut or Republicans in Texas. I agree wholeheartedly. Even at the town level, a one-party administration ultimately ends up corrupt, arrogant, and opaque.
Connecticut Republicans should get back to the business of being New England Republicans. Not only would they provide a real choice, they could then influence the rest of their party to pull back from the cliff.
Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning columnist and novelist of books for teens. A former securities analyst, she’s now an adjunct in the MFA program at WCSU, and enjoys helping young people discover the power of finding their voice as an instructor at the Writopia Lab.
DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.