Suffering an identity crisis at the polls
Right on, Greenwich. Or I should say “left on?”
Better yet: close one.
Post-election, our state Senate and House of Representatives have gone Democrat, with incumbent L. Scott Frantz (GOP) conceding to Alex Bergstein (Dem) in the state Senate and incumbent Mike Bocchino (GOP) conceding to Steve Meskers (Dem) in the state House. Our governor will once again be a Democrat as Ned Lamont claims his victory. Jim Himes (U.S. congressman, Dem) stays put as does Fred Camillo (state rep, GOP) and Livvy Floren (state rep, GOP).
But boy, was it close. Both gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski and Frantz waited until Wednesday morning to concede to their opponents.
What’s notable for Greenwich? Lots more people voted, and lots of them were women. No surprise there. Greenwich Democrats even went as far as to send an email Tuesday urging men to get out and vote.
What’s notable for the Motherlode? I am having an identity crisis.
Wikipedia defines “identity crisis” as a term that means the failure to achieve ego identity during adolescence. But I am 47.
Tuesday night, I found myself on the Old Post Road not knowing which way to go. I had voted Republican in our local elections, yet Democrat in our federal ones. Would I go to the Stamford Sheraton where Democrats gathered or to the Milbrook Club where the Republicans were working hard to reshape their GOP image as rich golf-loving men.
To make matters worse, my 10-year-old had persuaded his siblings to go on some form of strike, and our English bulldog was being bullied by our babysitter’s mutt. Identity crises were everywhere.
“This is sad,” my friend texted me, after a heated exchange on our voting differences. She had been putting in long hours at her party’s headquarters and was in no mood to hear my creed on partisan flexibility. The conversation didn’t last long. When I called to congratulate her at 10:30 p.m., I went straight to voicemail.
“I feel like such a traitor right now,” I mumbled to Scott Frantz as I made my way toward him through the packed Milbrook Club. There were a lot of wealthy looking men in plaid and women with headbands, but I held my mom-crazed head high. A head that, come to think of it, had not been shampooed in two days and had some form of colored pencil sticking out of it, somewhere.
Frantz was delighted to see me, and warmly congratulated me on crossing party lines on issues that mattered.
“It wasn’t easy,” I told him.
But maybe that is how we should all roll these days. Look at Xochitl Torres Small, a Democratic candidate for the House in New Mexico. She took an anti-ICE immigration position, completely contrary to her party. She did what she believed in.
There, too, was U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who voted against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court from within a deeply red state. It seems to have cost her the election. Heitkamp suddenly became a sort of hero in the Democratic Party, which given her position on gun control is nothing short of surreal. But she did what she believed in, just like Torress Small.
Turns out doing what you believe doesn’t work. Both brave candidates lost Tuesday night; their positions hurt them in the end.
As for me, my friend still wasn’t talking to me and the strike at home was raging.
“Yeah, and another thing mom! We are all picnic-ing!” my 7-year-old George hollered into the phone.
Which brings us right back to D.C.
Take Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley in Missouri, who challenged the Affordable Care Act yet defended coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. Talk about an identity crisis. But, of course, he took the seat.
What is going on here?
Then there are the heroes, the losers and the winners. To me, Heitkamp and Torres Small are the heroes — but they are also the losers. And then there are the winners: Ilhan Omar from Minnesota, who will take her place as the first refugee and Muslim in Congress. Epic.
Who played fair, who played dirty? Will anyone ever know — and does that matter?
As I made my way home late Tuesday night, one thing jumped out at me in our minivan, where profound thoughts often appear amid crushed Oreos. This time the wisdom came from Buffalo Springfield’s classic song “For What It’s Worth,” which I blared through the sound system all the way home. The lyrics say it all:
There’s something happening here
But what it is ain’t exactly clear…
There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong…
It’s time we stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look — what’s going down?
Claire Tisne Haft is a former publishing and film executive, raising her family in Greenwich while working on a freelance basis on books and films.