23rd District voters should realize state, national races inextricably linked
Samuel Adams once warned, “If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”
It’s a dramatic sentiment, and I readily recognize that invoking it could be viewed as alarmist. Yet I invoke it regardless, unapologetic about its implications, because here is the truth: as a nation we are poised at the edge of a precipice. I know this because I have seen it before. For much of my career I have fought for the principles that make America great. I am a human rights lawyer, and I have been posted, with funding from both Republican and Democratic administrations, in foreign dictatorships, fighting for the rule of law, equality, freedom of speech, fair elections, and women’s rights. I take the promise of democracy seriously, so much so that I have dedicated my life to it.
If we choose to continue the current course of strong-armed rule — alienating our allies, empowering our enemies and sowing discord within our borders — we will surely lose our footing, and in so doing we risk taking with us the democratic principles that have guided our nation since its birth.
To some, the words of Adams may seem an antiquated reflection of a bygone era. To me, they are a summons. Defending democracy is what I do. It is what I have always done. By running for office, I am answering his call.
Of course, I’m not running for president. I’m running for state representative in the 23rd House District of Connecticut. I discuss national politics because the Trump presidency has made one thing abundantly clear: what is national is local, and what is local is national. The two are inextricably intertwined, and if we wish to see a better nation with a brighter future, we must begin in our own backyards.
Devin Carney, my incumbent opponent, is not a bad person. He is simply not the kind of person we need right now. We face crises on a host of levels: a pandemic, an economic downturn, a national movement for racial justice and a shaky position in the world. And each of these national issues has local implications. The most vulnerable among us are still confined to their homes. Should we not make accommodation for them by expanding absentee voting? Donald Trump says no. Connecticut Republicans, therefore, say no too. As recently as March of this year, the Republican transportation plan would have raided Connecticut’s Rainy Day Fund. Democrats insisted we hold on for a real rainy day. Good thing too: due to a failed national response to COVID-19, it’s not just raining, it’s pouring.
And now, in the midst of the most significant racial justice movement since the Civil Rights Era, local Republicans opportunistically flocked to join the popular cause mere months after voting against a police accountability bill.
To be sure, my opponent has not publicly endorsed Trump. Indeed, in 2016, he offered an equivocal non-endorsement. But four years have passed. It is important to know whether Mr. Carney still feels the same. If so, he should again publicly denounce the president along with the supporters who enable him.
Our towns do not operate in a vacuum separate from the rest of the country. Nationally and locally, Republican politicians have been far too eager to ignore the great crises of our time — from the pandemic to racial injustice to health care shortcomings to climate change. The pressure to toe the party line is unwavering.
The 23rd District needs someone who understands that the big picture matters at the local level, someone braced to push back against a federal government bent on punishing states like Connecticut that do not bow to its vision. Voters need someone who acknowledges the exceptional nature of this moment.
I am that person.
It is time for a change in the 23rd district.
David Rubino is the Democratic candidate for state representative in the 23rd House District encompassing Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and part of Westbrook.