It is an unfortunate reality of US and Connecticut politics that women and minorities are still grotesquely underrepresented in the halls of power. In the US Congress, in the Presidency, in the cabinet, in the gubernatorial seats and state legislatures across the 50 states, in our own legislature and at the peak of leadership in the state of Connecticut, women and non-whites are obscenely underrepresented when their proportion of the general population is used as a comparative measuring stick. Our focus here however is Connecticut. Check out the number of green ties in the slide show photos accompanying this article. The power of Irish descendants in regional politics goes back to the Kennedy dynasty in Massachusetts, when Tip O’Neill was the US House Speaker (and interestingly, briefly my own U.S. Representative and Ted Kennedy my U.S. Senator when I lived in Boston in the late 1970s and early 1980s) and in Connecticut William O’Neill was a similar style state Democratic Party Chairman and then Governor.
The state can still rightfully celebrate the end of the Rowland/Rell Administration with Dannell Malloy’s victory and successor to Jodi Rell as governor. And Connecticut CAN celebrate the fact that we have been open to having two women as governor, Ella Grasso and Rell (although the late great Governor Grasso is still the most beloved state politician of my lifetime and Rell left the state in such disarray and political chaos that Governor Malloy has had to make REAL hard political choices to make up for the problems he inherited, and Rell didn’t even have the decency or class to be present in Hartford the day she handed over control of the state to Mr. Malloy at the time of last year’s inauguration). But every single one of our other Guvs and US Senators have all been white guys like me. I admit that when I attended Mr. Malloy’s inauguration that I was sorely disappointed by his decision to wear a green tie (symbolizing his Irish roots) and his decision to have “Danny Boy” played at the State Armory when he took his oath of office. I’m not at all sure what the point of that was. It was an embarrassment. At the front of the House Chamber where Malloy gave his inaugural address, it was also painful for me to see state Representative Christopher Donovan re-elected by his peers as Speaker of that House and speak side by side with the new Governor also sporting a green tie.
White males have dominated our power structures statewide, nationally and internationally for far too long. This is just a reality, and I speak as one of that classification. The original US Constitution was horrendous in its codification of slavery for non-whites, the specified lack of rights for indigenous Native Americans, and the deprivation of rights for all females, and the failure of the document to this day to provide for equal rights under the Constitution for women (2012 and still no Equal Rights Amendment). White males have dominated much of the world’s population and geography for millennia, first with the European colonial empires, and then with the ascendency of economic and military domination by North America and Europe (including Russia as both the Soviet Union and now as the Russian Federation) with the onset of corporate capitalism and materialism, along with conventional and nuclear military domination and competition in the post WW II world.
In the 1960s and since there has been slow progress in the US including the astonishing and historic election of Barack Obama and the amazing Democratic Party primary between Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008. However slow is the word—blacks, Hispanics and other disadvantaged minorities and women are only very grudgingly and slowly being allowed into positions of power. While, for example women occupy US Cabinet seats often now, not in any numbers proportional to their 50% of the population. And the positions they hold include the powerful position of Secretary of State now three times in a row (Madeline Albright, Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton), but THE largest and most powerful agency on earth, with the biggest budget and most deadly arsenal is the US Defense Department. Thus far no woman has been seriously considered for Secretary of Defense, and neither one woman nor person of color has occupied a single one of the positions as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
When I first became actively involved in politics in the mid to late 1970s, I volunteered in the campaign of AZ Representative Morris Udall for the Presidency in the Democratic contest against the eventual winner, Jimmy Carter. New Haven’s party politics had been dominated for years and years until the early 1970s by a party machine dominated by Italian-American males, and for my entire time growing up, New Haven Party Chairman/Boss Arthur Barbieri ran New Haven like the first Richard Daley ran Chicago. An outsider named Frank Logue challenged Barbieri’s machine in 1976 and beat it to win the mayoral primary and re-election once. At that time the Udall campaign was led in New Haven by a Westville Jewish duo, state House Majority Leader Irv Stolberg and then state Senator Joseph Lieberman, who also helped to temporarily bring down the Barbieri machine. But 4 years later the illegal wiretapping Police Chief and Italian-American Ben DiLieto and Barbieri beat this liberal combo, and basically that power structure has never looked back [even though many of the original players have long since left the scene]. Even to this day the leadership in New Haven is disproportionately Italian and white, even though the city is predominantly black and Hispanic. Rosa DeLauro is an Italian-American U.S. Representative, who has been in office for 21 years and has had an undistinguished record, is invisible and not a significant power in Washington for her constituents as she should be given her tenure. Its Mayor is Italian-American and even less-distinguished John DeStefano, Jr., who has languished in that office since 1996 and who had his pocket picked by the then-Mayor of Bridgeport Joe Ganim who stole the New Haven Coliseum and downtown and put them at the Arena at Harbor Yard and the downtown shopping district of Bridgeport. And on the Democratic Town Committee it’s almost as if Primo Geniture is at work, the new Vice Chair is Italian-American Vin Mauro, Jr. the namesake son of former Barbieri functionary and former Aldermanic President Vin Mauro, Sr. New Haven badly needs a change in personnel and it needs leadership that reflects the diversity of its people.
SO TOO DOES CONNECTICUT. The Democratic nominee (either Sue Bysiewicz or Chris Murphy) for US Senate is likely to handily defeat Republican Linda McMahon, the wrestling CEO who promises to spend tens of millions on a second self-aggrandizing general election Senate campaign and lose by a similar double digit margin as she did just two years ago to current US Senator Dick Blumenthal. Both Sue Bysiewicz and Chris Murphy, one of whom will be the Democratic nominee after the August Democratic primary for Senate are already hammering McMahon by double digits in the latest Quinnipiac Poll.
Murphy has had a completely undistinguished five year tenure as the 5th District Representative to Congress for Connecticut. There is no “MURPHY LAW” to point to, no Murphy Chairmanships to report on, no appearances on network television to discuss, and no major funding initiatives brought home to Connecticut due to his terms in office. Moreover, since he’s been in office, Congress is now at its lowest popularity in public opinion in polling history, and he’s been utterly ineffective in countering the Republican’s strategy of defeating everything proposed by President Obama and is not an effective counterpoint to “Speaker” John Boehner. Murphy, in short, is part of the Congressional problem, and certainly not the solution.
Another factor that DOES deserve consideration in deciding whether to support former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz vs. Murphy this year, besides the fact that she will be a fresh face in Washington, having never served in Congress before, but having been an exemplary state-wide officer, a superior vote-getter for the Democratic Party because of her accomplishments, and many more attributes enumerated in other articles here at the Hartford Government Examiner; is the fact that she is a woman and women are grossly underrepresented in the Senate. She also doesn’t fit the stereotype of the CT Irish-American pol, and would shatter Connecticut’s nearly 250 year streak of failing to send a single woman to the US Senate! An all Irish-American Murphy-McMahon general election contest for the US Senate would be retrogressive, but an all-woman general election for US Senate would be historic for our state. Rather than the boring, repetitious sounding notion of a McMahon/Murphy race, I much prefer the sound of a Susan vs. Linda contest! Just a few short decades ago that would have been an impossibility, but we need to begin speeding up this process of seeing to it that all Americans are represented by their representatives, instead of continuing to progress at the snail’s pace we’ve seen throughout our history. IT’S TIME TO NOMINATE AND ELECT SUSAN BYSIEWICZ TO THE UNITED STATES SENATE FROM CONNECTICUT!
If you’re interested in participating in this year’s race check out this website: susanforct.com or call 860-343-1585.