Democratic View: The blue wave

We did well in the municipal elections, better than just about anyone expected. A front-page article in The Press talked about a “blue wave” in Ridgefield. The headline was “Democrats Dominate Election.” And the news was good in other towns across Connecticut. We had a lot to celebrate, a lot to feel good about. But there’s a lot left to do. And the time to start is now.

We’ll be electing 187 members of the Connecticut General Assembly next year. The House of Representatives has 151 members, and the Senate has 36. A lot of people think that both houses have comfortable Democratic majorities, but they don’t. Democrats have a single-digit advantage in the House. The Senate has 18 Democrats and 18 Republicans. Some people take comfort in the notion that the lieutenant governor can break ties in the Senate and that Democrats will prevail, but that applies to tie votes on the floor. She can’t break ties on every committee vote.

Some people say that party affiliation doesn’t matter, but it does. It matters a lot as long as members of the legislature caucus as members of parties. It matters a lot as long as committee assignments are made on the basis of party membership.

In 2016, the people of Connecticut voted for Democratic candidates for president and vice president, for statewide offices, for the U.S Senate, and for the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2017, people across Connecticut voted for Democratic candidates for municipal offices: mayors, selectmen, members of city councils, and members of town and city boards and commissions. But somehow, while all of that was going on, Republicans actually gained seats in both houses of the Connecticut legislature. Many of them are committed to the goals of the national Republican Party. And others, by remaining silent, are allowing the party’s current leaders to act in reckless ways, to reverse decades of progress on social issues, to risk our safety and the safety of our allies, to diminish the United States in the eyes of the world, and to deny basic, fundamental protections to the most vulnerable Americans.

Campaigns for the Connecticut legislature can be funded through small contributions by people like you and me. Candidates can qualify for a grant from the state by raising money and collecting signatures. The contributions for this purpose have to be between $5 and $100. You don’t have to be rich to run, and you don’t have to woo big donors.

It isn’t enough to wring your hands. It isn’t enough to yell at the television. Get involved in the process. Support candidates you believe in. Contribute a few dollars. Volunteer. This is important. And each of us can make a difference.

And don’t forget to vote. When we vote we have a chance to change the world. We proved that in the blue wave last month.

The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee provides this column. Tom Madden is the DTC’s chairman.