Chris Powell: So why not just leave already?

 G.K. Chesterton, in 1911. “Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her.”

G.K. Chesterton, in 1911. “Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her.”


Anyone who got a penny for each time he heard someone threaten to leave Connecticut because of its corrupt and ineffectual state government would be rich.

Anyone who got a dollar for every such person he heard who fulfilled his threat and actually left the state might be able to buy a cup of coffee.

Even so, such threats are cascading like student test scores because of the triumph of the Democratic Party in the recent state election, since it followed eight years of Democratic administration that even the party’s own candidate for governor called a disaster. Talk radio and newspaper letters columns are featuring more such threats than ever.

Yes, there’s more to gripe about, since, even before addressing the estimated $4 billion state budget deficit ahead of them, Democratic state legislators are exulting in how much more they plan to increase government spending as well as the cost of doing business in the state by raising the minimum wage and requiring paid family leave.

But people so noisily threatening to leave the state are only advertising that they’re still here. They would have far more political impact if they’d just shut up and go.

And yes, Connecticut’s trend of politics and policy will lead inevitably to a state inhabited only by government employees and welfare recipients staring blankly at each other wondering where the private sector went and who is left to be preyed upon. But this is only the age-old corruption of prosperity that has befallen many other important states, such New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan and California.

Florida may be most popular with exiles from Connecticut, especially because of its warm winters and lack of a state income tax. But summers there can be brutal, hurricanes there can interrupt electricity for weeks at a time, the geography is flat and swampy, and the predatory wildlife -- alligators and Burmese pythons -- can put in perspective Connecticut’s government employee unions and the politicians who serve them.

So those inclined to continue contending for Connecticut may take heart from the great G.K. Chesterton, who wrote a century ago:

"The world is not a lodging-house at Brighton, which we are to leave because it is miserable. It is the fortress of our family, with the flag flying on the turret, and the more miserable it is the less we should leave it.

"The point is not that this world is too sad to love or too glad not to love; the point is that when you do love a thing, its gladness is a reason for loving it, and its sadness a reason for loving it more. ...

"Let us suppose we are confronted with a desperate thing -- say, Pimlico." (Pimlico was then a slum area of London.) "If we think what is really best for Pimlico we shall find the thread of thought leads to the throne or the mystic and the arbitrary. It is not enough for a man to disapprove of Pimlico; in that case he will merely cut his throat or move to Chelsea. Nor, certainly, is it enough for a man to approve of Pimlico, for then it will remain Pimlico, which would be awful.

"The only way out of it seems to be for somebody to love Pimlico -- to love it with a transcendental tie and without any earthly reason. If there arose a man who loved Pimlico, then Pimlico would rise into ivory towers and golden pinnacles; Pimlico would attire herself as a woman does when she is loved.

"For decoration is not given to hide horrible things but to decorate things already adorable. A mother does not give her child a blue bow because he is so ugly without it. A lover does not give a girl a necklace to hide her neck. If men loved Pimlico as mothers love children, arbitrarily, because it is theirs Pimlico in a year or two might be fairer than Florence.

"Some readers will say that this is a mere fantasy. I answer that this is the actual history of mankind. This, as a fact, is how cities did grow great.

"Go back to the darkest roots of civilization and you will find them knotted round some sacred stone or encircling some sacred well. People first paid honor to a spot and afterwards gained glory for it.

“Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her.”

By February everyone in Connecticut will have been entitled to a week or two down south. But if they are still of fighting age the best ones will return and join the resistance. At least spring will vindicate them.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.