This past November’s national election was easily the most contentious in my lifetime. Regrettably, absurd fabrications have now become commonplace during campaign season. Locally, my challenger did his best to deceive voters into believing I support high electric rates and higher insulin prices for diabetics. He even claimed I voted against protecting women from sexual assault! Thankfully, most voters are now wise to this nonsense. They are certainly tired of it.
Even worse is how the political party machinery has chosen to engage. The opposition exploited my commitment to protect free speech to engage in outrageous personal attacks while pretending to be concerned citizens. They lied repeatedly about my record attempting to paint me as bigoted, racist, and anti-gay. They questioned whether I live in the district, and concocted disgusting myths about my personal life.
Sadly, this behavior by elected officials, candidates, and party operatives has set a terrible example. Talking points have become more outrageous and less truthful. They are then repeated without regard for honesty or accuracy. The only goal is victory over the opposition; truth — and a desire to work together for beneficial public policy — are cast aside.
After 2020, I didn’t think it could get worse, yet here we are. In their quest to annihilate the opposition, Democrat politicians and their allies in the media have perpetrated an astonishing lie. They want the American people to believe that the president of the United States led an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and inspired the violence we saw there on January 6th to maintain his office by force. The facts prove otherwise. Though Trump should have been more cautious about the consequences of his rhetoric, he surely did not endorse anything other than a peaceful protest.
They are using this false premise to silence and divide Republicans, using the argument that we are “inciting violence.” This is rich from the same people who ignored the shocking violence, burned-out police cars, smashed and looted businesses, and dozens of murders that resulted from the “mostly peaceful” protests of this past summer.
I too have been the target of this smear tactic, designed to silence anyone with a different opinion. In an effort to stop the current crime wave in our state, I recently wrote about my desire to create public pressure on Democrat lawmakers to have a conversation about revising or repealing last year’s police bill. Those few words were labeled as “hateful” and “the kind of incendiary, alarmist, reckless fear mongering that leads to what we saw at the U.S. Capitol last week” by Democrat leaders in our state.
I will always condemn violence, and I will always behave with respect and dignity. There’s no place at all, never, for violence in this country. Lawlessness betrays our inheritance, a matchless constitutional system designed to insure liberty, equality, and domestic tranquility.
The suppression of political speech and the politics of personal destruction — that fills every crack and crevice of our society like smoke fills a room — may be as dangerous to our nation as the violence itself.
I write and speak more than most senators, and more plainly too; I sincerely believe that explaining my views is the best way to draw people to them. I am more interested in debating solutions to our crushing problems than in quibbling over adjectives. We need to talk more and not less — talk as freely as we must, so that we do not come to blows. As Americans, we inherited the inestimable blessing of an orderly republic; if we do not respect that — and it is clear many of us don’t, on both sides — we will find out how hard it is to reconstruct it.
I beg of my colleagues in both parties and my neighbors to be the example of how to differ with respect that our country desperately needs at this time. This cannot continue. We need to get off this path now, while we still can.
State Sen. Rob Sampson represents the 16th District which includes Cheshire, Prospect, Southington, Waterbury and Wolcott.