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It has been an interesting 13 years

May is an anniversary of sorts, 13 years since I was appointed editorial page editor. It has been an interesting period to direct the opinion section, that is for sure.

Several months after I took the job, moving in May 2007 from a third-floor newsroom cubicle to my fourth-floor office, the markets collapsed and the Great Recession set in. The twin assaults of the recession and internet competition battered the newspaper industry, including The Day.

Now the world confronts a pandemic and is again slipping toward recession. And, instead of my office, I am working out of a bedroom vacated when one of my sons — I have three — headed off for college. And once again The Day, with advertising taking a dive after businesses were forced to close, faces another big challenge.

In between, the country elected a young, freshman senator as president. He also happened to be the first African American to hold that office. It followed that up by electing a former casino mogul and reality TV star, who had pushed through multiple bankruptcies to maintain his rich-and-famous profile, as the 45th president.

Like I said, it has been interesting.

And, but for maybe for the first few months of President Obama’s time in office, politics have gotten steadily nastier and more polarized.

The Day Editorial Board, through shifts and changes and three publishers over those 13 years, has sought to maintain its centrist, pragmatic voice. On cultural issues we lean progressive, on fiscal matters we want budgets that balance.

We seek policies that balance the interests of business and workers. We don’t think promoting a strong free enterprise system and protecting the environment and combating climate change are mutually exclusive.

We have consistently called for immigration reform but reject open borders. The Day has argued the most sensible and humane solution for the estimated 12 million immigrants who came here illegally, but who otherwise have remained lawful and productive residents, is to provide them some path to legal status and full integration into the economy and their communities. Now villainized on the right, this idea was pushed by such Republicans as President George W. Bush, in office when I took this position, and the late Sen. John McCain.

The Day has long supported the goal of assuring access to health coverage for all Americans, but sees the better American model for doing so as largely utilizing the private insurance sector, as the Affordable Care Act sought to do, rather than installing a British-style national healthcare system.

We have endorsed Democrats and Republicans. We want good leaders, strong advocates for their respective political philosophies, but also willing to compromise.

But as politics has shifted to the political poles, somehow our centrist approach has become a leftist agenda or a conservative sellout, depending on one’s perspective.

In last week’s column, I gave Republican state Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano credit for fulfilling his role as the loyal opposition by pushing back on some of Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive orders during the COVID-19 crisis. Even in a pandemic, I suggested, some checks and balances are needed.

For writing about Fasano, but not demanding he condemn the Republican president, I got this from one commenter on theday.com: “We aren’t blind or stupid to Choiniere’s attempt to whitewash the CT GOP’s cowardice. He is being a loyal, ‘good old boy’ to the end.”

Another followed up to say the first commenter had it all wrong.

“Mr. Choiniere has proven to be a Democrat loyalist and left-leaning mouthpiece,” he wrote.

My loyalty is to our readers. Our opinion pages will continue to provide a variety of views. We welcome your letters and online comments. Meanwhile, our editorials will continue to strive for pragmatic policy solutions, as radical as that may be in a time that demands political tribal allegiance.

Paul Choiniere is the Editorial Page Editor.

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