Don Pesci: In Conn., the fine art of insincerity


Most commentators in Connecticut seem to trust the Quinnipiac Poll. The latest Q poll shows Republican gubernatorial challenger Tom Foley leading Gov. Dannel Malloy by about six percentage points. The same poll shows Independent gubernatorial challenger Joe Visconti capturing about 7 percent of the vote, and that 7 percent represents the ants in the pants of Foley supporters who point out that, during the last gubernatorial go-around, Mr. Foley lost to Mr. Malloy by a very thin margin. The Q poll also points out that Mr. Visconti appears to be drawing equally from Republicans and Democrats, so that his effect on the general election would appear to be a wash.
Still, Republicans are nervous, and Democrats are pleased that Mr. Visconti – unlike Jon Pelto, a Democratic Independent who earlier withdrew from the gubernatorial race – is still stubbornly plugging along. Mr. Visconti’s position on taxes and education is indistinguishable from that of Mr. Pelto, whose position on taxes is indistinguishable from that of Leon Trotsky. Both Mr. Pelto and Mr. Visconti see an increase in taxes as inevitable. Mr. Pelto would hammer the rich in Connecticut by making the state income tax more progressive. There are a number of resurgent Republican conservatives in Connecticut who believe that Mr. Pelto is exactly what the doctor ordered for Connecticut’s billionaires, many of whom continue to toss campaign contributions in the direction of progressives determined to use the contributions to purchase the rope with which they will hang the dupable contributors.
Mr. Pelto and conservative Republicans in Connecticut both oppose Common Core for different reasons. Conservatives dislike Common Core – or, as some of them call it, Common Gore – because it is a federally imposed standard that violates the principle of subsidiarity, which holds that educational decisions should be made by the smallest political unit affected by political decisions: Towns, rather than state and federal governments, should decide how best to shape public and private schools. Mr. Pelto dislikes Common Core because he perceives enforced national standards as a threat to hegemonic teacher unions. Mr. Pelto’s venom tap was turned on by Mr. Malloy, who sneered that, because of tenure, teachers only had to “show up on the job” to continue to miseducate urban school children. Mr. Malloy and other Common Core adepts would change all that once national standards had been put in place. Mr. Malloy since has had second thoughts.
The correlation of political forces in Connecticut, little understood by Connecticut’s media, has not changed since 1991 when former maverick Gov.  Lowell Weicker festooned the state with an income tax. It was the fashion in Connecticut before and after the age of Weicker to insist that Connecticut, a small but rich state, had no spending problem; rather, Connecticut had a revenue problem that became apparent whenever red ink appeared in its budgets. Any deficit could be discharged by a sufficient increase in revenues. Mr. Pelto clings to the same notion today. So do other progressives -- including Mr. Malloy, however much he insists that he has no plans to increase taxes -- so do most political writers in the state.
Since 1991, Connecticut’s forward progress has been thwarted by progressives who now man all the political high ground in the state. Progressives run the governor’s office, all the Constitutional offices in Connecticut, the entire U.S. Congressional Delegation, both Houses of Connecticut’s General Assembly, and they have captured all these office from moderate Republicans who had never effectively challenged Democrats on social issues. Democratic moderates also have disappeared. For this reason, any effective challenge to Democratic political hegemony in Connecticut must come from right of center Republicans who in the past have been quietly strangled in their cribs by left of center forces.
There is an additional problem.  In the absence of strong state political parties, which have been weakened for many years by campaign finance reform, state political campaigns have been “other directed” by professional armies of political architects that provide strategy and laundered money to candidates.  In the new political dispensation, every candidate is his own political party, multiple dog tails wagging the Democratic or Republican Party apparatus. In such circumstances, political campaigns become detached from political practices, and a measure of deceit is accepted that not so long ago would have sunk duplicitous campaigns.
Given the level of duplicity in political campaigns, saying what you mean and then doing what you say itself becomes a revolutionary act that cannot be tolerated by incumbents who have become practiced in the fine art of insincerity. This crooked politicking alone accounts for the inattention of voters who hunger for authenticity; they are unwilling to sanction with their votes the obvious duplicity of shamelessly duplicitous politicians.
Don Pesci  ( is a  political writer who lives in Vernon.