Many wonder why we are so wed to partisan politics in our state. Which party we align ourselves to, even on this local level, says a lot about our hopes as a people, about our priorities. Party politics has in the past come to define who we are.
So now that the great competition of elections is concluded, now we prepare for the taking of office of the new class of representatives and public officials. Both the Democratic Party and the Republican's have distinct features, cultures and histories. Brought about by the evolution of ideas, and the transitions of politics and self interests, these cultures trickle down even to our local level. We should attempt to recognize a few things that we can take for granted. These folks, elected for us, are supposed to be working in the interests of the town and the people.
I was impressed by the Democrats' affirmation, last year in North Carolina, of God's existence in the national party platform. Where it was always placed. Its removal was done for the wrong reasons, and the complexities of the issue transcend this forum. The Mayor of Los Angeles was effective in balancing off the competing ideas. Thankfully, we have a Democratic party that is still open to the passions of heated arguments. It is our safety-valve, against half witted dogmatic conformity. We are still the party of Paul Tsongas, Gary Hart and Bill Clinton, when we cease to be, for the sake of efficiency, then all will be lost.
Let us congratulate the declared victors from November! There is a process, as incomplete and flawed as it may be, and although I was a candidate for the State Legislature, I am first and foremost a citizen. I waged a campaign for the right reasons. We should feel pity for the lost opportunity, the ended chance for competent leadership, but a defeat or a victory is merely of a certain moment. It is on the difficult work ahead that we must focus our energies, for the fleeting excitement of having won or the devastation of loss fades along with the campaign promises and the instincts we use to cast our votes.
This past election should have been a wakeup call for the people in our district. After nearly 40 years of Republican electoral success, after continual rubberstamped elections, the Trumbull Republican party, marched in lockstep. I will say to you in the clearest way I can, the Republican voters in this district gave little thought to whom they were voting for, and more often than not merely voted party line. That is bad for the republic, that is bad for democracy, and if correct, such a zero sum approach is not what the founders had in mind.
Unaffiliates now outnumber Democrats and Republicans combined. These are citizens so disinterested with organized politics that their docility amounts to a dereliction of duty. There is rhetoric, people, and there is truth and if you cannot tell the difference, then perhaps you shouldn't vote. But this huge number of voters, left of the margins of society, with jobs, with families, who pay taxes, says something about the decline of our great american experiment, and only time will tell the result. We still believe that any citizen is qualified to seek office. The question is will this remain in the future? Children are growing up in broken homes, the native sensibilities of honesty are being replaced by foreign fads, people are judged by the money in their accounts as a determinate of character. These are the qualities that will undermine our system. The qualities of steadfastness, courage and honesty are needed when we select our leaders grounded in a ideal greater than themselves. That is the education that Jefferson spoke of when he mentioned the crucial factors needed in a people for democracy to exist, a bulwark against all threats to our simple culture.
12,000 people in Trumbull ( a number greater than the total population of our village in 1959, when my grandparents moved into the area) had better things to do than to select the men and women in charge of their town's representation in the State Capitol on November 6. This past election also happened to fall on a presidential year, which means that turnout was at its highest. That, my friends, is a shame. That is an embarrassment, for there is no excuse for such isolation. As democrats, as people who believe in this idea that we could self govern, we have much to do in the days ahead.