Recent editorials of regional and national interest from New England’s newspapers:
State Republicans need a clean break with the past
The Connecticut Post
J.R. Romano’s resignation as chairman of the Republican state central committee comes at an inauspicious time.
Top Republicans in the state are currently being forced to do what they enjoy least — answer for the actions of the president. That’s to be expected in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters, egged on by the president himself with an apparent goal of disrupting the count that made official Joe Biden’s presidential victory. The president and anyone who supported him have a lot to answer for.
That puts state Republicans in their worst possible light. President Trump lost Connecticut badly in November, and his party suffered at the state level in 2018 and 2020. The more the focus stays on the president, the harder it is for the party, including 2022 gubernatorial hopefuls, to make a case for their own leadership.
That makes Romano’s decision to step down this week, months before the end of his term, all the more puzzling. Republicans would appear to need stability more than anything, but now even that is lacking. The only way forward is a true break from the past.
That doesn’t mean Republicans can’t support traditional conservative principles. They will no doubt continue to campaign on issues such as low taxes, cutting regulations and bringing more businesses to Connecticut. But they must firmly move away from Trumpism and all it entails.
That means no more specious arguments that election fraud was rampant and may have turned the 2020 election. It wasn’t and didn’t. There are always ways that elections can be made to run smoother, but the lie that the election was stolen from Trump was one of the drivers behind last week’s attack on the Capitol. Anyone who pushed those falsehoods should be reprimanded.
It means no more fiascoes like Romano’s plan last November to raise an “army for Trump” to watch polling places and sniff out fraud. This was more about voter intimidation that anything else, and helped contribute to misperceptions that the vote was “rigged,” as Trump repeatedly said. It wasn’t, and helping to push the notion that the election was unfair was incredibly damaging.
It means no more disasters like the scene in the Second Congressional District last fall, where a Republican candidate was charged in an alleged domestic assault just before the Aug. 11 primary, and Romano was criticized because he reportedly knew of the allegations in the spring. The party was going to have trouble in the state’s five congressional races under any scenario, but this only made matters worse.
It’s healthiest for the state’s political culture to have two functioning parties, with real give and take. The end of the Trump administration could allow for an actual debate on the issues facing Connecticut to again take center stage, but only if party leaders are willing to truly put this era behind them.
Whoever takes over as head of the state Republican Party should keep that in mind. There can still be wins for them, even in a deep blue state. But it will only happen by putting Trump and Trumpism in the past.
Collins should challenge Trump’s lies
Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel/CentralMaine.com
It’s important to remember that the assault on the Capitol last week was fueled by lies.
Thanks to an all-out propaganda war by President Trump and his allies in government and right-wing media, millions of Americans are convinced that the 2020 election was rigged, and Trump was its rightful winner.
Thousands of those people swarmed the citadel of government last week, convinced that they were preventing a great injustice and protecting American democracy.
Who is going to tell them that they were wrong?
That’s what leadership is for, and that’s what’s missing in the response by Maine Sen. Susan Collins.
Collins, a Republican who was just returned to office, has criticized President Trump for “inciting” the riot at the Capitol, but not for the months of lies that led up to it.
That response falls short. Too many people believe that the election was decided by fraud. It’s not enough to decry the violence of Jan. 6. Almost everybody will say that they were appalled by the terrifying images that are still coming out. Even people who encouraged the mob, like Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, now disavow the violent acts.
What we need are leaders who can clearly identify what was behind the violence and tell us what they plan to do about it.
And that starts with telling the truth. It’s particularly important for politicians like Collins who have bipartisan appeal, to be very clear about the false allegations Trump continues to make about the election. Mainers who voted for Collins and Trump need to hear that the election was aboveboard and Trump lost, fair and square. Those voters need to hear from leaders they trust that Trump is dangerous.
The rest of Maine’s congressional delegation has been clear on this point. Even before the riot, Sen. Angus King called Trump out for an “overt, corrupt attempt to overturn the will of the voters.”
U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree supports Trump’s impeachment, as well as sanctions against Republican officeholders for “perpetuating this myth of a stolen election.”
U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat who won re-election in a district Trump also carried, announced Monday that he will vote to impeach Trump. “To be clear, the 2020 election was both free and fair, and its results are fully legitimate,” Golden said. “In claiming otherwise, the president, members of his Cabinet and administration, and some members of Congress have knowingly lied to the American public.”
The United States is in the middle of a national security crisis that’s unlike any in modern history.
Instead of a hostile foreign power or a terrorist organization threatening our well-being, it’s our own commander in chief.
President Trump sent a mob to the Capitol last week to overturn the results of a legal election. Five people lost their lives in the attack, including a police officer. Considering the guns, bombs and other weapons that were seized, we can only be grateful that it was not much worse.
Allowing lies about the reliability of our elections to go unchallenged is like allowing embers to smolder in a bone-dry forest. If nobody puts them out, you can expect another fire.
If we can’t restore trust in our democracy, what happened last week is just the beginning.
One red hot mayoral race is enough
In a city where politics is a favorite pastime — right up there with the Red Sox and the Celtics — is it possible to have too much of a good thing?
If the nomination of Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston as the Biden administration’s labor secretary touches off four elections in the city over the next 10 months, that would indeed be too much of an ordinarily good thing.
A special election for mayor, followed only a few months later by the regularly scheduled mayoral election, would mean too much expense, too much risk during a pandemic, and the very real risk of voter fatigue, which historically has suppressed the participation of Black and Latinx voters.
The bright red line here is March 5. If Walsh resigns on that date or after to go to Washington, City Council President Kim Janey takes over as acting mayor through the end of Walsh’s term and voters will get to choose their next mayor as scheduled during a preliminary election in September and a final on Nov. 2. If Walsh departs earlier, the city charter would trigger a special preliminary election within 120 to 140 days. If more than two candidates throw their hats in the ring, that would trigger yet another election between the two top-vote getters in the preliminary — hence four elections in the space of 10 months.
City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, mindful of all of the consequences of this over-abundance of democracy, has filed a home rule petition in the council to remove the requirement for a special election this year.
“It seems wildly unfair and frankly racist to put people through this — to put people through four different elections in the middle of a pandemic,” Arroyo said in an interview. “It’s well documented that special elections and preliminary elections are particularly disenfranchising to Black and brown voters.”
Arroyo said his proposal has already won the backing of the local NAACP.
Also on board with the concept is the secretary of the Commonwealth’s election law division.
“We are in agreement that there should be only one election cycle (in Boston) in 2021,” Secretary of State Bill Galvin said in an interview Monday.
He’d like to see a few language tweaks to the proposal, adding, “There are some rather arcane features of the city charter that simply shouldn’t apply this year.”
He cited the issue of signature collection, which could be made somewhat easier in the middle of a pandemic, as it was last year for ballot initiatives and legislative races.
A similar home rule petition allowing the city of Lawrence to forego a special election to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Mayor Daniel Rivera to run MassDevelopment cleared the Legislature during the final days of the last session and was signed by the governor late last week.
Elections are, of course, costly — more so this year, with the need for additional COVID-19 protections. But each city election cycle (preliminary and final combined) is budgeted at about $1.5 million. That’s in an ordinary year. Surely Boston has better uses for that extra $1.5 million-plus.
The real nightmare, of course, would be not merely election confusion but also the prospect of the outgoing mayor filing the city budget (which Walsh is expected to do), an acting mayor attempting to shepherd it through the council during its negotiating process, a possible third mayor being in charge when it passes, and even a fourth to see it through till the end of the year.
“Try hiring good personnel during that time,” Arroyo said.
But this is Boston, after all, where raw politics is always just below the surface and the obvious question is which candidate would benefit?
“You know, I don’t care,” said Arroyo, who confirmed he is not running for mayor. “What isn’t theoretical is the real harm this (a special election) can do. What’s a good reason to put the city through this level of instability for 10 months?”
That is at the heart of the issue. This should be an easy call for councilors — even those who are in the race for mayor — and an even easier one for lawmakers on Beacon Hill, who will also have to approve the change.
Who doesn’t love a red hot race for mayor? Having only one this year will be just fine.
A Soulless & Spineless Faction of the GOP
The Caledonian Record
We think the only appropriate response to the deadly storming of the Capitol, and a President who incited an armed insurrection over blatant lies about election fraud, is blanket condemnation.
We thought Gov. Phil Scott’s and Rep. Scott Beck’s quick, unequivocal censure was entirely appropriate.
On the other end of the spectrum, we were embarrassed for self-interested sycophants like Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, parroting Trump conspiracies of a rigged election (not the whole election, mind you…. not the ballots where Republicans picked up House seats… just the millions that went against Trump).
Somehow that continues to be the company line among diehards. Sadly we’re hearing it closer to home among certain Vermont GOP party leaders who continue to align themselves with this lying, ludicrous President.
We’re thinking specifically of GOP chair Deb Billado; vice-chair Deb Bucknam; and county Republican chairs Rich Cochran and Chet Greenwood.
None forcibly denounced the President’s criminal acts nor his repeated efforts to overturn a free and fair election. Instead, they spent the week deflecting, drawing false equivalencies, and trying to divert attention from the carnage.
Some of this may be the last hemorrhages of a battle for the soul of the GOP. The party we long-backed stood for principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, free enterprise, and individual liberty. That’s not Donald Trump.
We watched the Republican National Convention this year and saw an endless litany of doomsday fantasies intended to make listeners fearful of a coming communist reign of terror. Trump stands tall for Confederate statues, blind allegiance, excessive force, fear-mongering, race-baiting, and reckless deficit spending. Mostly Trump stands for Trump. He opposes science, immigrants, minority protesters, effective administration, and a free press.
In fairness, Trump’s campaign didn’t ever claim to be about winning a war of ideas. As he announced in 2018, his re-election effort would be a war over truth. He proudly swore a $2 billion war chest to sow discord through confusion and disinformation.
Judging by the violence of last week - and the number of people who actually believe that the most adjudicated election in our nation’s history was rigged - we’d say he was successful.
No. His party isn’t about ideas, it’s about division and deceit. The target of Trump’s attack last week was the fabric of our democracy.
Yesterday we published an opinion by Bucknam who clearly wants us to focus on anything other than the President’s treason. She offers common false dilemmas - Hillary Clinton, Antifa, communists, censors, etc. She can acknowledge that violence in the Capitol is bad… just not as bad as cancel culture or Bernie’s senile rants.
We’re familiar with these red herrings because we’ve heard so much bluster this week about free speech and censorship in the wake of the President’s online de-platforming. It’s the only thing Fox News can talk about.
We’ve been good soldiers in defense of the First Amendment and would be remiss not to point out 1) the government doesn’t appear to be attacking anyone’s right to speak freely; 2) there isn’t a protection for calls to violence; and 3) the President still has a multi-million dollar communication office and dedicated press corps if he ever had a constructive message to communicate.
This isn’t about censorship. It’s about Trump zealots being wholly bankrupt in a free marketplace of ideas, and staging a deadly assault on electoral democracy and objective truth.
Trump incited deluded followers to march violently on the nation’s seat of democracy over a lie. We believe he is a seditious criminal with whom we could never stand.