Entries related to things political.

Civic Discourse and the Connecticut Budget

A recent article in the New Haven Register about my campaign for State in Connecticut, Woodbridge resident takes on House Minority Leader Themis Klarides for 3rd time in 114th District, quotes me saying

Hynes said the No. 1 one issue is this: “We have lost civility in our public life. Look what’s going on at the national level. And it’s not just the presidential race. It’s also what’s going on in Congress and in Hartford.’

My opponent is quoted responded

“I wish it were true that civility is the biggest issue. I agree Washington is a mess and with social media being so popular, there is no accountability. In Connecticut, however, we are civil to each other even when we disagree on the issues.”

I wish I could agree with her, but the evidence suggests otherwise. For example, take a look at a recent article in the Connecticut Post from three days earlier, Republicans on deficit: “Something doesn’t smell right.”

That article quotes my opponent saying

“We’re seeing a a [SIC] pattern of not being truthful,” Klarides told reporters in the Capitol complex. “Something doesn’t smell right here.”

The article goes on to quote a member of the Malloy administration saying

In reaction, Chris McClure, spokesman for Malloy, said the Republicans were hyperbolic and displayed “alarming ignorance” on the state budget.

“While we appreciate Sen. Fasano and Rep. Klarides’ attempts to make news and alter the political landscape for their Trump-immolated party, the truth is that writing, passing, and keeping a budget balanced throughout the year requires a lot of hard work and hard decisions,” McClure said.

The article received various comments like

It sounds like they need reliable bookkeepers and for Malloy and Merrill to get out. In fact all of them Nappier especially. These people can't add or subtract. We're being overtaxed every way you turn and they can't get their s**t together

This is not what I consider being civil to one another.

The article about my race quotes my opponent saying

Klarides, R-Derby, calls Hynes “a very nice man” while adding, “Unfortunately, he’s not really aware of the issues in the state of Connecticut.”

The article also quotes my opponents response to my criticism of the Republican part in Connecticut being too cozy with big business saying

Klarides called that statement “ignorant.”

While I disagree with my opponent on many issues, I would not call her, or any of the Republicans I disagree with “ignorant”.

So, why do I believe the lack of civility is the most important issue in politics, both nationally and locally today? Don’t I think things like taxes, the budget, fair wages, access to affordable health care, issues with our education system or our transportation system are more important?

All of these issues are very important. We need to work hard together to find new ways to address these issues. Calling people liars, ignorant, or unpatriotic doesn’t help us work hard together to find new ways to address our common issues. It makes it harder.

It leads us to supporting candidates because they are in the same party as we are. The Connecticut Post article, Repulsed by video, GOP’s top female office holder in Conn. re-evaluates Trump support, quotes my opponent talking about Trump’s sexual assault comments saying,

“This is disgusting,” Klarides said. “This would be embarrassing for a frat boy, let alone a grown man.”

Later, the article says

“When Donald does and says things, he must own them and anybody who supports him must own them,” Klarides said.

So, does my opponent own Trumps comments about women, immigrants, or refugees? The article about my race says

Asked again if she will vote for Trump, Klarides said, “I’m still evaluating. I’m certainly leaning in that direction.”

Going back to my opponent’s comment about my thoughts being “ignorant”, the article says

Klarides and Hynes look at the tax issue through different lenses. Hynes is concerned about the popular attitude “What’s in it for me?”
Hynes added: “People say, ‘Lower the taxes for me.’ They forget about people who are hurt when you do that.”
He also charged Klarides and other state Republicans are “trying to help large businesses at the expense of workers.”
Klarides called that statement “ignorant.”

What didn’t make it into the article from my discussion with the report was the context of my comments about people being concerned about what’s in it for them.

When I spoke with the reporter, I referenced to the quote from President Kennedy’s inaugural address,
“my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

I believe we must return to this mindset. I don’t believe quoting this and seeking a return to civility in politics is ignorant. I believe it is what must be done to address many large issues in our state.

I do not believe my opponent is a liar, is ignorant, or is “not really aware of the issues in the state of Connecticut”. Instead, I believe we have fundamentally different views about how to address the state budget and the struggles that all people across our state face on a daily basis.

I urge you to look beyond the rhetoric and question what the real issues and the real solutions are.

Principles Above Party Loyalty

This morning, I saw a Facebook post, that said

Shame on Republicans, especially elected Republicans who call Trump deplorable and would not vote for him. …. Republicans hope to gain the House in Connecticut but how can they when they criticize one another, losing the coattail effect. Wake up people!!!!!

When challenged on his statement, he responded

he [Trump] is the nominee. I still respect Ronald Reagan's philosophy never to speak ill of another Republican. So, I keep quiet but when leaders of our party start speaking ill about other republicans I get upset. Candidates need the coattail, they do.

This led to a long discussion in the comments about whether the vote is about the party or the candidate. I added my comments

I think this is a really important discussion. Some people believe that party loyalty is more important than principles. Others do not. As more and more voters register as unaffiliated, the idea that party is more important than principles is likely to alienate more and more voters.

Me? I place my principles, my religious beliefs, and what I believe is best for our country far above party politics, and I pray that more Americans will do the same. I cannot, in good conscience, vote for Donald Trump or anyone that supports him.

To the Voters in the 114th Assembly District in Connecticut

As I hope you all know, I have accepted the Working Family Party nomination for State Representative in the 114th Assembly District. Because of other commitments, I did not feel I had the time to run the sort of campaign I would want to run as the Democratic nominee, but when asked in September if I would be willing to run a much smaller and simpler campaign on the Working Family Line, I agreed.

I have run against State Rep. Themis Klarides twice before. Generally speaking, she isn’t as bad on the issues as many of her Republican colleagues and in the past, I have hesitated to criticize her, preferring to run a positive campaign about the issues. I am running because I believe voters deserve a choice. I am running because I believe we need to raise the level of discourse in politics.

Yet with the news over the past twenty four hours, I have come to the conclusion that in order to raise the political discourse in politics we must denounce the words of the Republican Party standard bearer. The time has come to speak up about one of Rep. Klarides’ greatest failings. She puts partisan politics over principles.

Rep. Klarides was a Trump delegate at the Republican National Convention. Unlike true party leaders, she has not yet spoken out against Donald Trump’s highly offensive remarks. I ask all of you call on Rep. Klarides to denounce Donald Trump’s rhetoric of misogyny and racism. I ask all of you to speak with your friends and neighbors to let them know that they have a choice in November.

There should not be room in our political discourse for the rhetoric that Donald Trump has been espousing. Please speak up today.

Update: After I wrote this and shared it with friends, the Hartford Courant has run this article 'Deplorable': Trump Remarks Rattle State Republicans

Rep. Themis Klarides, the top Republican woman in elected office in Connecticut, called recently unearthed comments by her party's presidential nominee, Donald Trump, about groping women "deplorable and disgusting."

Klarides, the minority leader of the state House of Representatives, said Trump's vulgar 2005 remarks have caused her to reevaluate her support for him. "I don't see how I could vote for him," said the lawmaker from Derby.

I am glad to hear Rep. Klarides speaking out.

The Redemption of Donald Trump

Last night, the Churches Making Movies Christian Film Festival showed a preview of the movie, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone. Generally, I’m not a fan of movies that have a blatant message. I prefer movies that tell us about God’s grace in a more nuanced way, like Babette's Feast. Yet “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” stars one of my teen daughter’s favorite actors, Brett Dalton, best known for his role as Grant Ward in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so we seriously considered whether or not to try to make it to the preview.

IMDB describes the movie this way:

Gavin Stone, a washed-up former child star, is forced to do community service at a local megachurch and pretends to be Christian so he can land the part of Jesus in their annual Passion Play, only to discover that the most important role of his life is far from Hollywood.

This came to mind as I read about ”Donald Trump’s Apology That Wasn’t” this morning for lewd comments he made back in 2005. As a Christian, I feel called to pray for my enemies, to pray for those I strongly disagree with, to pray for the leaders of our nation, including those seeking political office. I have been praying for Donald Trump. I have been praying for his supporters, and I believe that we may be approaching an important moment of redemption.

Last year, CNN and others ran stories about when Trump talked about his faith. Trump believes in God, but hasn't sought forgiveness. Conservative evangelical writers have struggled with how to approach Trump because they recognize that crucial, and I’m using that word in its full meaning, to their belief is the need to acknowledge our faults and ask forgiveness.

Last night, Donald Trump asked forgiveness. He acknowledged that despite his dislike of ‘political correctness’ and what might be acceptable banter by the boys on the bus, treating women as objects to be used to satisfy physical desires really isn’t socially acceptable. In my mind, this is huge. While I hope all of us know this, deep down in our hearts, it is contrary to the messages of a consumer culture and the rape culture that it enables.

In the New York Times article, Trump goes on to say, “I’ve traveled the country talking about change for America, but my travels have also changed me.” This is also an important challenge to the dominant political narratives. We look for candidates that present themselves as perfect, as immutable. A candidate who flip-flops is not viewed as desirable. I believe we need leaders that can change, that can evolve on important issues.

I am in the middle of my third campaign for State Representative in Connecticut. This cycle I’m running a very low key campaign, but I know how grueling campaigns can be. I’m also seeking ordination as a priest in the Episcopal Church. I am learning a lot about the importance of personal growth in every stage of our journeys.

I would not have voted for Donald Trump before this current news cycle, and the events of the past day have done nothing to change that. However, I think there is a very important message to all of us in what has happened: The epitome of callous men has admitted that treating women as objects for personal satisfaction is not right. He has admitted that beneath all the bluster, even he recognizes and admits his own short comings. So, I continue to pray for him. I continue to pray for people that follow him, that this message may sink in and may help bring about the redemption of Donald Trump and his supporters.

To return to Gavin Stone, I pray that the narrative of Trump’s campaign may become something greater, something like:

Donald Trump, a washed-up former reality TV star, seeks political office and pretends to be Christian so he can land the part of President of the United States, only to discover that the most important role of his life is far from Washington.

This Amazing Day

On Sunday, The Rev. Stephanie Spellers preached at Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford. In her opening remarks, she commented, “I should be exhausted, but instead I am excited”. This seems like a good phrase for me right now, with the admission that some days, like today, the exhaustion might be a little greater. Normally, I get up and check the news, and then spend some time reading scriptures and prayers appointed for the day. This morning, I started off with “Ministration at the Time of Death”.

Almighty God, look on this your servant, lying in great weakness, and comfort him with the promise of life everlasting, given in the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

I then glanced at the news, with Karl Barth’s recommendation to “hold the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other” in mind. I pray for the people in the path of Hurricane Matthew. I pray for our elected leaders and those running for public office, including myself.

The Vice Presidential Debate last night did not capture my attention. Instead, I tried to get a little sleep. Unfortunately, the dog barked much of the evening. I turned to the lectionary for this coming week. In 2 Timothy we read

Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening.

I think that pretty much sums up my reaction to the debate and to a lot of the political discourse this election cycle.

The Gospel for this coming Sunday is Luke 17:11-19, the story of the ten lepers healed by Jesus, but only one of the returns to thank him. As I think about a friend on death’s door, about the damage of Hurricane Matthew, and of the political malaise in our country, it seems very easy to overlook or forget the moments of blessing. Yet I will drive to work this morning, seeing the leaves start to turn color, the beauty of the hills, and I will think of e.e. cummings:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

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