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JONATHAN L. WHARTON

So it was National Connecticut Day this past Monday. But did you know about it? If you were on social media, you could hardly tell there was such a day. There were only a dozen Twitter mentions and few “favorites” were clicked. And last year proved to have even fewer mentions on Twitter. I didn’t even send a tweet about it until almost midnight.

A few news outlets had links, tweets, and articles for National Connecticut Day as they listed positive aspects about the state and it was pretty refreshing to read about our love for New Haven pizza, sports teams and other things that make Connecticut a standout.

But few of us exhibit state pride because we like to complain about Connecticut. Save your hate for the state, fellow Nutmeggers. I’ve read your countless social media posts, letters to the editors and op-eds over the years and especially in the last year.

Have we read and heard enough reasons for not liking our state? The economy and politics are problematic – and I have pretty much run out of ideas in addressing the state’s issues. We have one of the worst economic and racial segregation stratification statistics in the nation. And the animosity between urban and suburban residents is astounding. Our winters are terribly gray and dull, especially lately. So there is much reason to complain about Connecticut. I get it.

But the states that surround Connecticut exhibit excessive state pride. Have you met a New Yorker or been confronted by a Bostonian? And must I mention how Jerseyans express their state pride? I lived among them for a dozen years and I still remain scarred all these years later.

Meanwhile we, as Nutmeggers, are underrated. We often forget our civic beliefs and unique history. Centuries ago, our leaders were determined negotiators at our nation’s Constitutional Convention in 1787. They were often the diplomats between northern and southern delegates. Even generations earlier, New Haven leaders had the Fundamental Orders, a rare and early doctrine recognizing the need for individual rights and formally explaining the powers of government. In other words, our state’s early history demonstrates that we are a land of negotiators and protected rights.

We should also admit that Connecticut has a varied and beautiful topography. From its shorelines to its hills and small towns, suburbs and medium cities, Connecticut has variety. We can engage in countless outdoor sports and recreational activities because of our beaches, lakes, rivers, and mountains. Plus geographically, New York City and Boston are nearby.

So it’s no wonder that thousands of New Yorkers have relocated to Connecticut during this pandemic. We have the location and space. Yet it takes an influx of newcomers to remind us what we have? It also takes National Connecticut Day to respect our state but most of us overlooked that on Monday.

We should remember National Connecticut Day next year and respect what we do have. As Connecticut residents, we should appreciate our state’s civic history, diversity, topography and other attributes. As someone who teaches, studies and writes about state and local government, I cannot avoid discussing Connecticut since it’s part of my job description.

Meanwhile, I will continue fighting loud Bostonians, dramatic New Yorkers, and Jersey zealots. Someone in Connecticut has to continue our negotiating nature among the states that surround us.

Jonathan L. Wharton, Ph.D. is an associate professor of political science and urban affairs at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven. He is also a frequent guest on WNPR’s Wheelhouse radio show.

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