Karen S. DaughERTy Gratitude to GOP candidates who lost
I speak for many Connecticut residents who share the shock and discouragement Republican candidates must feel after losing the election. We are heartbroken for them as well as for our state. The only way to explain the results is that some voters didn’t do their homework.
Without studying the facts or candidates’ records, a chunk of the electorate was swayed by labels Democrats unfairly assigned to all Republicans — pro-Trump, anti-woman and anti-gun safety. How did voters not equate the financial mess we are in with the fact that Democrats have been at the helm of our sinking ship with their one-party rule in Hartford for many decades? Since 1992, for example, they have controlled the state House, and —except for a few years and a recent tie — the Democratic foxes have been completely in charge of guarding the hens in the state Senate, too. Didn’t voters pay attention to the reasons for the unpopularity of Dan Malloy, our tax-and-spend-Democratic governor who has been in office for eight years?
Why did voters ignore statistics that rank Connecticut’s fiscal health at the bottom — 49th in the country with billions upon billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities, low rates of job creation, a deficit and severe infrastructure problems? Voters were somehow convinced they should vote for change, but why didn’t they realize the Republican ticket offered real change, instead of just fresh faces?
I grew up in the golden years of this state at a time when our economy was one of the fastest growing in the nation, when there was no income tax, and homeownership was a profitable and sure investment. I remember Connecticut as a place that attracted young people to come and old people to stay. Things have sure changed. Now Connecticut has the second highest tax burden in the country — including high income, property, death and gift taxes, and the downward slide in property values is upsetting. Why didn’t voters take to heart the endorsement of Connecticut Realtors in this election, who came out in force to support the Republican ticket? Didn’t voters notice that Connecticut has one of the fourth highest move-out rates in the country and that snowbirds of all ages are flying South permanently, taking their companies and their wealth with them?
The Democratic machine effectively hit a voting block of special interests right in their pocketbooks — stirring up concerns that public pensions and entitlements would be threatened. The Democrats’ solution is to divide the economic pie into smaller bites instead of making that pie bigger. How did voters disregard the important ingredients in that pie, which include jobs, pro-growth initiatives, a fresh perspective and budget caps? Don’t they see that the shriveled pie is inedible to more and more businesses and residents?
Why did Democratic voters just vote the party line instead of taking off their blinders to consider incumbents who have been effective as bipartisan legislators? How did they ignore the record of a veteran businessman and long-serving politician such as state Sen. Scott Franz, who has earned respect and awards from both sides of the aisle for his financial expertise and accomplishments — including his recent stewardship of the historic bipartisan state budget? At this critical time, we need experienced legislators who understand the levers of power and nuts and bolts of all these complicated issues —including taxes, bonds, federal grants, subsidies, loans, and health care. Why did voters turn their back on this type of seasoned, knowledgeable and respected incumbent and instead elect a well-meaning neophyte who will need lots of time and testing to get up the curve? Why can’t we choose the most qualified candidates instead of focusing on such things as their gender?
The Republicans in this race focused on the financial viability of our state, and most refused to be ensnared in the divisive politics on the national stage, but they got smeared anyway. They ran campaigns distinguished by integrity and civility, which is a breath of fresh air in the pollution of the increasingly toxic political climate in our country.
I am grateful for those public servants of both parties who serve the public with character and the spirit of bipartisanship. This election made me appreciate, more than ever, the responsibility that voters have to do their homework as well as exercise their privilege to vote in primaries and in elections. We must hold our politicians accountable — especially when they pledge “no new taxes” and when they use adjectives such as “moderate,” “inclusive,” and “fiscally conservative” next to their names. This election has brought new meaning to the idea that “the buck stops here.” With Democratic control of our state government once again, they own it, and they better fix it.
Karen S. Daugherty is an Old Greenwich resident.