Tragedy in Washington, light in Connecticut
The contrasts between how a day of significance played out in Connecticut and in our nation’s capital could not be more stark.
In Connecticut, the General Assembly on Wednesday returned to regular session for the first time in 10 months, since the COVID-19 pandemic emptied the legislature’s chambers. In the interest of safety, legislators stood in the winter cold around the State Capitol and took their oaths of office. Several hundred protesters stood behind barricades nearby, some shouting for their rights to refuse vaccines, others in dispute of the presidential election.
It was a peaceful exercise in democracy.
Back inside, senators and House members, tuning in remotely from their offices, voted on rules for the 22-week session. A few leaders, inside the House chamber, respectfully discussed procedural guidelines.
Later, Gov. Ned Lamont delivered a recorded, upbeat State of the State Address from behind the governor’s desk. Skipping detailed policy proposals, he instead thanked the medical professionals, food-distribution volunteers, essential workers and others who stepped up in the fight against COVID-19. His goal was to provide a weary state with reason for hope.
“There are many reasons young families and new businesses are giving us a second look and choosing Connecticut,” said the governor, who has made many tough decisions in leading his state through the pandemic.
“As people seek to improve the quality of their lives, they are choosing Connecticut,” Lamont said. “Tens of thousands of young families have moved to the state for the first time in a generation because they recognize and appreciate our Connecticut values.”
“Today is the first day of Connecticut’s comeback story,” said the governor, concluding his speech.
It was overstated in its optimism, certainly. Connecticut faces serious economic challenges. Despite signs of movement to the state since COVID struck New York and other large cities hard, the 2020 census is expected to show a population decline.
But there are times for overstated optimism, and this was arguably one of them. It was far preferable to the scene that played out 300 miles to the south.
A tragic day
In Washington, D.C., the nation’s long tradition of a peaceful transition of power ended.
President Trump carries full responsibility. If we had our way he would be impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate in the next couple of days and not allowed to finish the last two weeks of his one term. We can’t imagine that he would do the right thing and resign.
With COVID-19 cases spiking and deaths rising at a record pace, Trump has been derelict in his duty since the Nov. 3 election. Instead, he has ginned up his supporters with baseless claims of a stolen election, “stoking the flames of hate and chaos,” as President-elect Joe Biden accurately put it.
His co-conspirators in the effort to undermine our democracy were a dozen Senate Republicans and more than 100 House members who, fully cognizant that there was no evidence of widespread election fraud, still conspired to make a sideshow of the joint meeting of Congress to certify the election of Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Their craven act, meant to toss red meat to Trump supporters in their home districts or pave their way to future presidential runs, added credibility to the uncredible claims of a stolen election.
Then things boiled over.
Addressing a mob of supporters outside the White House, Trump whipped them up further with more lies of a fraudulent election.
“We will never concede,” said Trump.
Convinced by the president of the righteousness of their cause, the throng marched on and invaded the Capitol building, interrupting the process of certifying the election of the next president. An attempted coup here, in the United States.
Across the globe the enemies of governance by the people must be celebrating our dysfunction.
Trump, in late afternoon, issued a pathetic request for his violent supporters to go home, never condemning their actions, but instead offering his “love” for them and repeating his lie of an election “stolen from us.”
The nation will survive. Our institutions will stand the test. But Trump, now inarguably our worst president, has left Joe Biden with the biggest domestic divide since President Lincoln entered office.
Perhaps Biden, as Lincoln, will recall our common bond as Americans, and what should be our collective respect for self-governance.
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies,” Lincoln said at his first inaugural. “Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”
The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.
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Whether further developments prove Lamont right or wrong, making tough decisions — and sometimes unpopular ones — is called leadership.
There is no good reason lawmakers should deny voters the opportunity to make this decision as soon as possible.