A sorry set of choices for governor of Connecticut
Only one question is important in Tuesday's election of Connecticut's next governor and General Assembly: What kind of a cut will everyone getting money from state government have to take and what kind of tax increase will everyone else have to endure?
For the first work of the new governor and legislature will be to find more than $4 billion of spending cuts or tax increases to close the projected deficit in the next two-year state budget. That's 10 percent of spending. The next work will be to find another $80 billion to cover the unfunded liabilities of state government's pension systems.
Everything else is trivial, yet the three foremost candidates for governor have evaded the essential question. So have most candidates for the legislature. When Connecticut most needs candor and courage, its candidates offer only blather and cowardice.
This leaves voters with little to go by except the definition of politics given a century ago in "The Devil's Dictionary" by Ambrose Bierce: "A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles; the conduct of public affairs for private advantage."
That is, which interests should be put in charge of the sinking ship?
Connecticut's Democratic Party is dominated by the government employee unions, the welfare class, and the banshees of political correctness, the daily contrivers of faux scandal and outrage. Connecticut's Republican Party is more diffuse but its most identifiable groups may be business people, gun-rights advocates, and apologists for President Trump.
So what cases can be made for the candidates for governor?
The unaffiliated candidate, Oz Griebel, may be the most informed about state government because of his many years as leader of a business group. But while he is smart and decent he offers no more specifics than the major-party candidates do. Polls find him supported by less than 10 percent of the voters, so voting for him is just a protest against the other candidates.
The Democrat, zillionaire Ned Lamont, has made frantic noise with commercials, press conferences and releases, and campaign visits. He has a position on everything unless it matters. He touts change while leading a party that has controlled government for eight years and is controlled by people desperate to prevent change. Lamont will get the anti-change vote.
The Republican, Bob Stefanowski, an unknown who hasn't even voted for 16 years, offers little more than his desire to eliminate the state income tax, though lately he has struck poses sympathetic to whatever might suffer from cutting taxes. Not even Stefanowski's supporters think the income tax can be eliminated, since it provides half state government's revenue, but people could figure that the Republican would restrain spending more than his rivals.
Stefanowski is largely ignorant of policy but some people may be so contemptuous and resentful of state government as to be indifferent to how spending is restrained. Stefanowski will get the votes of the contemptuous and resentful, as Trump did two years ago.
Campaigning in Hartford for Democrats last week and lamenting the hateful state of politics, as other politicians do, former Vice President Joe Biden said, "We are better than this."
But no, we're not. If we were better our politicians would notice and realize they had to be better too.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.
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