Who are you?

Sen. Bob Duff

Sen. Bob Duff

It was 27 minutes into the governor’s 30-minute long State of the State address when he delivered these few lines: “Our state has a long legacy of acceptance, compassion, and fairness. Regardless of whether your family settled in Connecticut 300 years ago or three days ago, you are welcome here. As the people of Connecticut navigate a changing national landscape, we will continue to ensure that every state resident is treated with dignity and respect. That will not change. Not now. Not ever.”

Those words reminded me of something I would hear in America’s Declaration of Independence, in our Bill of Rights, or see inscribed on the base of our Statue of Liberty. Fairness, equality, civility, respect – all hallmarks of American democracy and Connecticut’s rich history.

You see, it was only an hour earlier that day when I saw two of my Senate Republican colleagues rise to welcome their families, both who fled Communist countries – one even escaping martial law – in order to ensure that their children and grandchildren would be safe and able to grow up in a free country. There’s a lot to celebrate in a state where we have these kind of stories.

But there is much to be cautious of and to fight against, too.

Republican members of the Connecticut legislature are fond of saying that they are “Connecticut Republicans” and not “Washington Republicans.” That’s supposed to be code for being politically “moderate” and rejecting the extremism that we see in the halls of Congress.

Some days I can buy that. I’ll even put aside for a moment legislation proposed by Republicans to require the President to provide an original copy of his birth certificate in order to be placed on the ballot, to eliminate Ronald Reagan’s Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor, and to zero-out funding for Planned Parenthood.

However, like in school, there is always one big test to determine a passing or failing grade, something that will show the public whether your actions match your rhetoric. Opening day of the legislature – during the governor’s address and at that moment when he said those words – was the exact time.

Hearst columnist Ken Dixon was right to ask the rhetorical question of why Connecticut Republicans would sit in silence. Is there really a bright line between Hartford and Washington Republicans? Does their silence mean some sort of tacit approval of the harmful rhetoric spewed nationally over the last few months? They should have stood up, embraced the inclusive remarks, and united our entire state behind our leaders. If I were a teacher, I would have to give my friends on the other side of the aisle a failing grade.

Connecticut has 3.5 million residents. Two thirds white, one-third non-white, and one out of seven are foreign born. We are all due acceptance, compassion and fairness, dignity and respect from each other.

I believe most sincerely that these are American virtues worth standing up and applauding for.


Chris Bazan January 24, 2017 at 1:12 am

Bob, rather than focusing on issues that don’t affect our pocket books and ability to pay our bills, why don’t you focus on cutting our taxes genius.

What the heck have you done lately to improve Connecticut’s economy? Nothing. Instead you hand out grants and forgivable loans to companies who would prefer to move to a less tax burdensome state, paid for with new state debt.

You are a real estate guy yet in government you have overseen the worst property appreciation rates in the country.

Quit wasting your time writing this petty partisan waste of space, and fix our state economy and tax burden.

anna russo January 25, 2017 at 1:20 pm

Please do not pretend to know what “all of us” would like to tell doofo.
Speak on your own behalf, not “all of us”.

isabelle hargrove January 25, 2017 at 3:21 pm

It was only political grandstanding, and so is this letter, unfortunately. The Republican caucus was wise to ignore it.

Furthermore, for these eloquent words, what has Senator Duff done to support our diverse population? Norwalk has a large immigrant population as well as a fast-growing number of Hispanic school children. Yet, Senator Duff has done nothing to correct the Educational Cost Sharing formula which robs Norwalk and these kids of tens of millions of dollars of school funding EVERY year. Even when Rep Wilms in his first year in office advanced a proposal to remedy our dire situation, Senator Duff could only put batons in his wheels.

Maybe it is time Norwalkers look at who you are Senator Duff…

Paul Cantor January 26, 2017 at 12:19 am

Good letter Bob. Thanks for writing it. Would that more of our elected officials
had the courage to speak out against President Trump’s promise to deport
undocumented immigrants who have lived and worked in our country
for many years and his threat to create a registry of Muslims. Those who
remain silent while the President’s scapegoating spawns fear and hatred
may rightfully be found guilty of the crime of silence.

anna russo January 26, 2017 at 8:37 am

If the immigrants lived and worked in this country for many years, then why haven’t they become citizens? And if they haven’t, why do they deserve all the rights and privileges that many immigrants who became citizens, deserve? They are taking away from us (and our children), the ones who LAWFULLY BECAME citizens.
And Paul, for those who remain silent on the unlawful (and mostly childish behavior) on the liberal left, should also be found guilty of supporting unlawful and punishable behavior. Please Paul, spare us the liberal rhetorics that you perpetuate because your party didn’t win. No wonder you support Duffus, another liberal handing out hard working American’s money.

Andrew January 26, 2017 at 10:16 am

All this is to distract from the issues going on the state under the Majority Leaders leadership. This piece is the beginning of a campaign to require that republicans spend time denouncing every utterance coming from the White House. Even though the entire state federal delegation is in their parties control – local state republicans will be held to account on the airwaves. This is a decoy mission to obstruct from the issues that are critical to the state and local government – in other words to the true issues that affect our day to day lives.

Its going to be a long 10 months.

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