Are Connecticut Politics Serving The Greater Good?

Just last week we celebrated Independence Day. Do we need to return to the words of the US Constitution? America’s founding fathers laid the foundation for our political climate. Within the Constitution it read “When government no longer serves the people; the people have the right to alter or abolish it and reinstitute new government.” Those who hold governmental power must always be cognizant their power derives from the people being governed.   “We the people” must guide their actions or we face tyranny. 

In the past several months I have witnessed a government out of control. A government that no longer serves the greater good of Connecticut residents. To be honest it has been out of order for some time now and this may be an opportune time to check that power and make sure it aligns with the foundation it rests upon.

Several recent events have caused me to take a much closer look at what is going on in Connecticut politics.

Most blatant is what I call “plantation politics”. Politics which resemble a time in American history when one segment of our society ruled over another with impunity and everyone bowed to the whim of the master. Is that the type of government we have adopted in Connecticut? When I see a prominent, well-respected legislator face a “public lynching” because she doesn’t bow to the whim of the Governor I have to step back and reexamine the foundation of our government. Unchecked power is a dangerous power.

To witness a bipartisan vote to pass the PROTECT Act which in effect promotes civility, human dignity and public safety and then witness one person in government nullify the people’s wishes I had to reexamine the Constitution to see if I missed something about government.

A month ago I sat outside the Capitol into the wee hours of the night listening to the House debate over whether to pass SB1059, formerly known as the “PROTECT Act , an act that sought to limit the use of what International law and any person of conscience defines as human torture. What I witnessed was so demoralizing for me as a person of color.

During a healthy debate a Republican representative from Bristol, Cara Pavalock-D’Amato rose apparently upset that the discussion was centered around the humanity of the nearly 90% people of color who face the most punitive, sadistic form of treatment within Department of Corrections. She rose and used the most horrendous case of unspeakable violence in Connecticut history, the tragic story of the Petit family in Cheshire to sway legislators to vote against the PROTECT Act. She used that case to justify why Connecticut treats its incarcerated as they do.  Several legislators rose swayed by her emotional tirade stating they had come to vote in favor of the passage of SB1059 and had changed their mind after hearing her presentation.

What was so misleading is the fact that the men who committed those horrifying acts, Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes are not incarcerated in Connecticut faced with the inhumanities and state-sanctioned abuse normalized in Connecticut prisons. They in Pennsylvania where Mr Hayes is housed in a medium security prison and Mr Komisarjevsky is held at a maximum security prison where they offer therapeutic programming, education, vocational training including mural painting. I mention this because legislators were manipulated into changing their vote leaving Connecticut to continue its inhumane and destructive practices under the guise of public safety. 

As a licensed clinical social worker and a person of color I recognize there are people within our legislature who will never connect with the humanity of people of color and this clarification of the facts is not for them. This is meant to inform those who fell for the emotional tactics used to manipulate their vote. I know you want to do the right thing. I know you are not pleased with the stories you heard from victims of Connecticut Correctional abuse and their families as well as recollections from former DOC employees who validated those horror stories. 

I ask that all legislators of conscience ask leadership to hold a meeting to discuss a veto override because according to the US Constitution government is derived from those who are being governed. No one voice is amplified over thousands. You have a right to be heard. When that right is nullified by one voice we are no longer a government of the people and we no longer are governing for the better good of Connecticut society.

Demand your voice be heard and be heard without facing retaliation. I call upon Republicans and Democrats alike who believe in humanity and justice to vote your heart not the heart of your party.  It’s not easy being an outlier.  It takes integrity and courage. Wear it as a badge of honor.  Use your voice as you see fit and not what works for the party. Time is of the essence. There is still time to do the rightful thing for the people of Connecticut.  I rely on your leadership during this time of crisis. Ask yourself is Connecticut politics serving the greater good?

Barbara Fair
New Haven, CT

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