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Will Connecticut Republicans pay a price for silence on Trump?

Chris Powell got it wrong when he wrote recently in a column, published in his own Journal Inquirer of Manchester and The Day, that I suggested every Republican should be defeated if he or she won't denounce or at least criticize President Donald Trump.

What I wrote was that every Connecticut Republican should give every Connecticut voter an opinion of Trump, the person leading their party, the centerpiece of this 2020 maelstrom we find ourselves in, an election for the ages.

Mind you, it's true I wouldn't vote for any Republican who won't denounce Trump. But I certainly respect the right of Trump supporters to vote for candidates who pay allegiance to their party, its policies, agenda and president.

May the party with the best ideas and leadership win.

I also would consider supporting any Republicans or Democrats who want to break with the policies of their party and its leaders. Just speak up and say so. Connecticut has voted, for instance, for a lot of pro-choice Republicans over the years.

Where I believe Powell and I almost certainly agree is that Connecticut is best served by a healthy political environment, with at least two viable parties.

Where we apparently disagree is how far we are willing to let one of those parties, namely Connecticut Republicans, hide from the lawmaking and governance by their party on a national level, on a whole range of important issues that have an impact here, from protecting preexisting conditions in health coverage and a woman's right to choose to things like mitigating climate change and managing the economy.

How can Republicans in eastern Connecticut hide from the fact that Trump cut submarine spending from his budget? How can they then say that what their party leaders do at the federal level doesn't matter here?

To allow Connecticut Republicans to sever themselves from their party's problematic president and his broad upending of civility and tradition without any explanation seems to be madness to me.

And yet that appears to be what Powell suggests, let the Connecticut Republicans cowardly hide from their president, neither endorsing nor renouncing, as he continues a hateful and racist campaign against the great institutions of American democracy.

We should not tolerate this cowardice by political candidates to explain themselves.

I think it's too big a price to pay to guarantee a robust two-party system here in Connecticut.

If Connecticut Republicans on the ballot this year won't talk about Trumpism and how it is impacting our country and our state, then I would hope Connecticut voters will find candidates and leaders who will.

The closest I've seen around here to a Republican candidate endorsing Trumpism has been Sen. Heather Somers, who attended a protest in Pawcatuck against Gov. Ned Lamont's pandemic shutdown orders.

But every single eastern Connecticut Republican I queried declined to give an opinion about the leader of their party.

Connecticut Republicans seem to find themselves in a dilemma for the 2020 election, caught between constituents who wholeheartedly endorse the president at the head of the ticket they are running on and many of the rest of us, who are horrified about what Trump is doing to America and Connecticut.

I believe it is the job of newspapers to keep exploring the ramifications of that dilemma instead of helping politicians hide from it.

If that means fewer votes in Hartford against tolls, so be it.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

d.collins@theday.com

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