Don Pesci: In Connecticut, touching third rails

  Malcolm X -- a  firm believer in self-reliance.

Malcolm X -- a  firm believer in self-reliance.

Some people, not generally Friends of Tim Herbst (FOH), think that the Republican contender for Connecticut governor is aggressive. He is, as has been noticed during the Republican primaries, somewhat less aggressive in his advertising than David Stemerman, but then Herbst commands a more modest campaign war chest.  

Herbst disputes the slur; he says he is competitive.  However, the former first selectman of Trumbull does have a habit of fondling third rails that other Republicans running for governor fear touching.

Some of those rails – a hearty defense of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, every bit as inviolable as the First Amendment; peace and security in Connecticut; the socially disruptive effects of certain justice reforms under Gov. Dannel Malloy; the abolition of Connecticut's death penalty on social rather than legal grounds by Connecticut’s constitutionally confused, left-leaning Supreme Court;  serious crime ripening in  Connecticut cities; a plenitude of illegal guns in a state that boasts some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country; the baneful effects of fatherlessness among young urban African-American boys; and the constant chipping away of traditional morality by pretentious moral “reformists” – have gotten Herbst in Dutch with progressive social warriors.  T

To be sure, Herbst not only stands squarely in a traditional  Christian moral universe, his plans to lift Connecticut from its economic doldrums represent the larger part of his campaign message.  Still, there are those rails pulsing with electricity, and also a sense on the part of many Democrats that Herbst is treading on sacred ground reserved to Democrats, a part of their progressive moral preserve.
 

The flight from social issues by Republicans has surrendered half the political battlefield to Democrats. That is how Democrats win elections.  And now the left has to deal with this interloper. It’s best to make quick work of him, after which Democrats can set about winning elections by couching all issues in glossy moral terms.
 

Not so long ago, U.S. Sen. Dick Blumenthal, a progressive attached by a permanent umbilical cord to Planned Parenthood, advised everyone that any regulation of the abortion provider would reek of immorality. Herbst, not unreasonably or immorally, thinks that parents of children should be advised when their daughters procure abortions. 

A ridged division between social and financial issues is not only false; it is silly. There is no Berlin Wall separating such issues. Welfare dependency among what English aristocrats used to call “the lower orders” is both a social and an economic issue.  When welfare payments are unaccompanied by work requirements, you create a permanent dependent underclass that is certain to be preyed upon by rootless and fatherless males.
 

 The notion that independence or self-reliance is morally superior to a cringing dependence on the mercy of strangers was the center pillar of the social philosophies of both Malcolm X, whom some of his critics during during his own day regarded as aggressive, and Martin Luther King Jr.

They weren't  far removed from crusading journalist Ida B. Wells, who recommended arming black men who wanted to put  the fear of the Lord in the KKK, King kept a pistol close by; so did Malcolm X, bushwhacked by the hoods that surrounded Elijah Mohammed after Malcolm X publicly accused the religious leader of having illicit sex with young girls.  And it was President Bill Clinton, no hard-hearted conservative, who approvingly signed into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act” of 1996 (PRWORA), having promised during his 1992 campaign  to "end welfare as we have come to know it.”  

That is the kind of third rail Herbst likes to fondle, even as his own Republican Party has been for decades in full retreat from welfare reform, silent on the matter of the Second Amendment, stonily silent as generation after generation in the state’s inner cities drift towards social and moral anarchism. Republican incumbents insincerely believe that ceding the moral high ground to moral reformists like Planned Parenthood will in the end assure them enough votes to remain a second rate minority party; better a live mouse in office than an out of office lion prowling on the political perimeter. 
 

In the meantime, cowardly Republicans continue to win economic arguments and lose elections to gifted Democrat demagogues proficient in the art of fooling most of the people most of the time. A thoughtful media would blow many of them out of the water with raucous, cleansing laughter. For 50 years and more, hegemonic Democrat political organizations have been holding the lower orders in cities, many of them bankrupt, hostage to feel good programs, gilded cages that shrink the soul and open the heart to endless despair and misery. Herbst and a few fearless Republicans know this, and they are roaring – ENOUGH! 
 

 Don Pesci is a Vernon, Conn.-based writer. His email is  donpesci@att.net