In an opinion piece that also appears in the Hartford Courant, former Republican leaders in the Connecticut State Senate John McKinney and Len Fasano write Republicans must move away from Donald Trump’s “juvenile and disrespectful behavior” that is costing GOP candidates at the polls.
In the 2024 presidential election, Republicans must look ahead to a new future.
We need candidates who understand people’s struggles, who comprehend how government works and who can have conversations that lead to action. Our country is troubled with fear and anger, and Congress has failed to help heal this nation. Instead of solving problems together, members of Congress focus on dividing this nation by attacking each side and pointing fingers. Although it makes headlines, it’s a disservice to our country.
For former President Donald Trump, any policy success has been completely overshadowed by his divisiveness. His juvenile and disrespectful behavior is shameful. It’s behavior that our party needs to reject.
Our nation is built on differing opinions. Politics and debate are part of what makes our democracy thrive. But President Trump shifted politics away from being productive and purposeful and turned it into a forum for anger and egos.
He not only dismissed Democrats, but Republicans as well. Personal, infantile insults absent any substance are his way of discourse. When he disagrees with someone or something, he does not respond with tough, bold or common-sense arguments. Unless there is total and absolute agreement with his ideas, he lashes out like a spoiled child, not a leader.
Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election, his persistent claims that the election was “rigged” absent evidence to the contrary, his attempt to overturn the electoral college results, and his, at worst, incitement of and his, at best, subsequent refusal to quell the violent attack on our Capitol on Jan. 6 make him unfit for office.
In Connecticut, Democrats outnumber Republicans. But in 2017 we saw a historic split in the state Senate with an equal number of lawmakers from both parties. With that even divide, we passed the strongest financial stability measures in a generation. Those protections yielded record-breaking surpluses, budget reserve funds and are paying down the state’s unfunded liabilities.
We accomplished this neither with insults, nor with acquiescence. We accomplished this with healthy debate, a relentless vetting of our differences and conversations that brought our state together to do what no one had done in decades.
But even with those momentous Republican-driven accomplishments, the Senate immediately lost Republican seats in the next election. The anger people had for Trump was taken out on local Republicans running for office. Their historic accomplishments, their fierce policy battles, their advocacy for working- and middle-class taxpayers didn’t matter. People could not see beyond the shadow of Trump, and local state politics paid the price at the polls.
Ahead of this year’s election, we saw Donald Trump align himself with candidates he thought would win so he could take credit, ever focused on his own image. Those candidates lost. One can make a strong argument we had a repeat of that Trump rebuke nationally.
That same frustration will continue unless we as Republicans change course and reject Donald Trump as a candidate.
Republicans have a strong message and a positive vision. We need a candidate who can achieve great things with conversation and a winning argument, and not by chastising with insults and disrespect those who disagree. We need someone who puts our families and the unity of our country ahead of their own ego.
Across our state, the Connecticut Republican message is resonating. People want a more affordable state. The middle class and working families are crushed by inflation, high energy costs, and unaffordable health care. Income growth is not keeping up with the cost of living. Since 2011, Democrats voted to increase taxes by nearly $7 billion, making Connecticut one of the most unaffordable and highest-taxed states in the nation. People need opportunity to thrive, and a state where they can afford to live, work, raise a family and retire.
But that message has been overshadowed and ignored by those who want to send a message about Trump.
We love our country and our state. As former Senate Republican leaders, we’ve spent years working to represent the voices of all Connecticut residents, to fight for working- and middle-class families and the Republican principles of opportunity and the American Dream. We’ve been the firewall to policies that would have caused even more pain today, stopping tax increases and passing good ideas into law to help people across our state.
We are a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Our nation needs a leader who will unite people and put people first, and who will prioritize our country above themselves.