You don’t have to love me. I’m a porcupine
--Conn. Gov. Dannel Malloy
There are two ways to lose an argument: by not saying enough or by saying too much. Likewise, there are two ways to lose an election. The Republican nominee for Connecticut governor, Tom Foley, cannot be accused of having said too much in his attempt to wrest the gubernatorial office from Democratic Governor Malloy. Mr. Malloy, on the other hand, has never in his long political career said too little.
Mr. Malloy’s second gubernatorial campaign and President Obama’s second presidential campaign were remarkably similar. Of the two, fortune -- as well as lots of money, a great ground game, sharper demagoguery, a media used to genuflecting before incumbents and a progressive ideology that has not yet wearied the general public in Connecticut – smiled broadly on Mr. Malloy, while baring its teeth towards Mr. Obama. National progressives lost the Senate and sent Joni Ernst to the chamber where she will no doubt “make the pigs squeal.”
The headline on the Drudge Report early the morning after was celebratory: “REPUBLICANS TAKE CONGRESS +7 +8? +9? SENATE, THE DEM DISASTER.”
In South Carolina, Tim Scott was appointed by Governor Nikki Haley to the U.S. Senate after Republican Jim DeMint resigned to join the Heritage Foundation. Now returned to the Senate, Mr. Scott is the first black candidate to win a race in South Carolina since just after the Civil War and the first African-American senator from the South since Reconstruction.
Governor Haley more than a year ago warmly embraced PTR, formerly a Bristol, Conn.-based semi-automatic weapons manufacturer fleeing Mr. Malloy’s thrown quills. Malloy said, following the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass murder that gun manufacturers want “to sell as many guns to as many people as possible—even if they are deranged, even if they are mentally ill, even if they have a criminal background. They don’t care. They want to sell guns.” Sturm Ruger, of Southport Conn., had at the same time begun t expanding its business in Mayodan, bringing 500 new jobs to North Carolina over the next five years.
Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Malloy are progressive politicians, which is to say both tend to yield to autocratic leftist impulses. To put it another way, progressives, as a rule, do not fancy trickle-up democracy. In Mr. Obama’s case, the chief executive, faced with a legislature one house of which was dominated by the opposition party, simply misused the constitutional prerogatives of his office to redraft legislation by choosing which portions of bills passed into law he would or would not execute.
Mr. Malloy does not have this problem, both houses of Connecticut’s General Assembly having been dominated for decades by members of his own party. Under the Malloy administration, Connecticut has what might be termed unitary party problems.
In a governing system in which power is shared between the two major parties, political corruption is more easily rooted out. In a tripartite system in which the balance of power is evenly distributed between the three departments of government – the executive, the legislative and the judiciary – corruption is more visible because there are more competitive eyes on the ground to report such indelicate corrupt activities that political flesh is heir to.
A legislative branch in which both parties share power is more keenly aware of corruption and more ethically ordered. Disclosure is the most formidable enemy of corruption, and disclosure is more likely in a legislature in which power and authority is shared between the parties. In a political system in which the legislative and executive power is vested in a single party, corruption – politically defined as non-democratic, authoritarian governance – tends to become the well hidden rule rather than the exception.
In Connecticut, where Democrats once again have swept the boards, back room deals, questionable elections, opacity in government and the arrogance of unchecked power – Mr. Malloy is expert in throwing his quills at those who presume to question him – will be the rule for the next few years. Connecticut’s congressional Delegation, all Democrats, will be returning to a Congress masterfully captured by Republicans. The raucous voices of Connecticut’s two U.S. senators and their influence over congressional events will be muted for the last two years of Mr. Obama’s lame-duck presidency; the media influence on the Malloy administration will be similarly ineffectual. The few contrarians in the state’s largely pro-status quo Media conglomerate -- those few, that brave band of brothers – had better be on the lookout for the sharp quills.
Don Pesci (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a political writer who lives in Vernon, Conn.