2008 is the year of the reckoning—when voters will answer the question that makes politicos clutch their palm cards in angst.
Who will win the Connecticut General Assembly?
2007, by contrast, is the year of anxiety—when I await the answer to this question as an intern in the office of my oxymoronic comrades, the Connecticut Republicans. Lacking the glamour of a live campaign, the party headquarters offers only a knot of sullen political junkies who reminisce of better days. Still, as a longtime Connecticut Republican, the frustration of being in the minority has only reaffirmed my hope of kicking the Democrats out of office. Working for a political party in a non-election year has molded me from a sunshine ideologue into a true believer in the cause.
Connecticut, of course, is Democratic turf. In 2006, the Democrats won a two-thirds majority in both houses of the legislature, relegating the reelected Republican Governor, M. Jodi Rell, to the role of official figurehead. Republican incumbents Nancy Johnson and Rob Simmons lost their hard-earned Congressional seats to Democratic newbies Chris Murphy and Joe Courtney. After their massive victory, starry-eyed Democrats fantasized about what they might do with such power.
Thankfully, they did not do much. Even with a supermajority, the Democratic legislature failed to pass a budget and was forced to convene a special session. Other pet projects, such as universal healthcare and a ban on trans fats, died in the cage. The Democrats can boast some accomplishments: notably, passing a law to legalize marijuana for medical use; but the law would allow people to grow marijuana in their homes without medical supervision. Unfortunately for the Democrats, Governor Rell vetoed the bill.
From our office in Hartford, we Connecticut Republicans can only watch in horror. But life as an intern for the minority party does not consist solely of predicting the world's demise over the water cooler. In fact, I am running a cold campaign: helping town committee chairmen navigate campaign finance regulations, planning local television ads, and researching all that Congressman Murphy does wrong. Non-election years are the time for contemplation and preparation, when Republicans see the consequences of their defeat and remember why they even run against Democrats in the first place.
The most rewarding aspect of this experience is meeting other Connecticut Republicans, who actually exist outside of my cubicle. On a trip to the State Capitol, I met Representative John Harkins, who fumed over Democrats’ attempt to offer instate college tuition to illegal immigrants; but not to their legal counterparts. At a brunch in Waterbury, I heard Congressman Murphy’s challenger, State Senator David Cappiello, slam a Democratic State Senator’s naive remark that the only reason businesses were leaving Connecticut was because they wanted to make money. In my native Manchester, I helped a Republican member of the town council, Matt Peak, research an anti-graffiti program, which in the past, the Democratic majority has tabled.
Being in the minority is extremely frustrating, but it reinforces my Republican values. The arrogance of heavy-hearted liberalism leads to heavy-handed laws that kill individual freedom. Meeting other Republicans comforts me in knowing that I am not the only one who opposes big, obtrusive government. Most importantly, working for the Connecticut Republicans invigorates my belief in individual freedom.
And hearing our party's chairman, the fiery Chris Healy, roar over Democrats' plan to raise taxes—with a $1 billion surplus in state coffers—is certainly worth a hard day's work.
So for the next three months, I will be stuffing envelopes and calling donors, all in the belief that I am working for my cause. Besides, a Republican upset in the “blue” state of Connecticut would make the politicos’ heads turn.
Brian J. Bolduc ’10, a Crimson editorial editor, lives in Winthrop House when he is not attempting to turn blue states red.