Sadly, our country is becoming more divided each day, seemingly more so with each news cycle. There is a long list of reasons why. There is also plenty of blame to be placed on politicians, the press, and even social media. Each serves their own masters, whether it be money, power, or influence. Ultimately, they become the standard bearers for echo chambers on both the left and right of the political spectrum.
Another factor is the huge gap in the average American’s knowledge of our own history, even cultural changes in the last half century. A political takeover of large parts of the higher education world that discourages rather than encourages contrary thought and opposing viewpoints is not helping things either.
I entered the arena (truer than ever) of politics because I was concerned about the direction our state and country have been headed. I saw then and continue to see the founding principles that define America and its citizens being lost slowly but surely over time. It’s not in anyone’s best interest to allow that to happen.
I love America and believe that it was founded on the most genuine, purest and moral of ideals - equal opportunity for all citizens and freedom to choose one’s own path in life. The founders knew the danger of having a powerful central government and gave us the tools to put the people themselves in power - a free republic – if we could keep it.
That said, our founders were not perfect. Our country did not have a perfect beginning, and it certainly has not been perfect along the way to the present day. We have many bad marks on our record, and none worse than slavery. However, I have always felt that the idea of America is indeed perfect: That any person with any background, lucky enough to be born an American, has the opportunity to live any life they choose depending on their own effort and merit, that they can love or hate anything that they choose, and are free to do so. The only caveat being that they must respect those rights in others equally.
This is what I work for each day in politics and strive to achieve in my own personal life. Today more than ever, I see the need to build bridges to those who see politics and the world differently. I’ve learned that the best solution is information and education. Listening and getting others to listen is key. No matter how great the political divide is in this country seems, I know it’s not so great that it cannot be overcome. The truth is we agree on a lot more than we disagree on. Let’s talk to one another and find those agreements where we can.
The legislature is actually a remarkably good example. Believe it or not but, in our own Connecticut legislature, Republicans and Democrats who are notoriously at odds on countless issues, manage to pass nearly three-quarters of all legislation unanimously, or nearly so.
Of course, it’s the other one-quarter that generates all the angst.
There is a huge divide between the political parties on policy. I believe in having the smallest government possible and placing my faith in my fellow citizens to make their own choices and succeed on their own. That doesn’t mean I believe in anarchy or want to eliminate Social Security tomorrow, but that’s my overall view. I believe it’s in keeping with those core Americans principles I laid out before.
My Democratic colleagues in Hartford have a different viewpoint. They believe that the government should have a larger role and a more direct influence in the lives of its citizens. They believe that government can be the tool to right the wrongs of society. These are two completely opposite viewpoints and there’s nowhere really to find compromise between them, but that’s ok. This struggle has been going on for a long time and it will continue for a long time. The point is that we are completely capable of agreeing on some things and disagreeing to the point of an impasse on others, all the while maintaining, except for rare exceptions, our dignity and our respect for one another..
This is why I am particularly incensed at watching the national political debate and, in particular, the candidates running for the 2020 presidential election. Not a day goes by without bold personal attacks and outright lies leveled at one another’s words, record, and positions. This is completely unacceptable regardless of who does it, or whether they are on your team or not.
My first reaction when I see people disrespecting one another and attacking each other personally is a desire to tell them to “behave.“ The people we are disagreeing with are our friends - sometimes even relatives, and our countrymen.
In the coming months, you’ll no doubt see me write about my differences with Governor Lamont and others. I will continue to fight hard and stand for the principles that I believe in. However, I promise to debate policy not personalities and respect my opponents as human beings no matter how much I wish to defeat them. I will also listen to anyone who will listen to me. Hope to see some of you on the bridge.