In his annual Thanksgiving message to the people of Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy stressed the importance of goodwill and unity following one of the fiercest elections in recent memory.
In previous Thanksgiving messages, Malloy listed Connecticut’s accomplishments from the past year. This time, though, he used the message to enumerate what he sees as the nation’s foundational principles. The message reflected on the holiday’s 1863 establishment by then-President Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the Civil War. Then, Thanksgiving served “as a national unifying force.” Now, “at a seminal moment in the trajectory of our state and nation,” it can do the same, Malloy wrote in his Wednesday message.
“On the heels of one of the most contentious elections in modern times, as a state and as a nation we must now ensure that we do not allow either vexing apathy or insidious fear to erode who we are as a people; we must preserve the goodwill and good intentions that form the core tenets of our union,” he wrote. “We must remember who we are, and what we believe.”
In the message, Malloy tried to remind the people of Connecticut that “we believe in economic and judicial fairness,” and also emphasized that the United States is “first and foremost a nation of immigrants” and must foster “diversity and inclusivity — of culture, creed and thought.”
The message echoed the sentiments Malloy expressed on the morning after the election, when he praised the strength of American democracy and called on people to set aside partisan animosity.
“We believe our democracy is more important than our political parties,” he wrote in his Thanksgiving message. “While we can fight vigorously during campaigns, we believe firmly in the peaceful transition of power. After an election, we should choose to work together in government — to build ourselves up as one nation, rather than tear each other down as individuals.”
Connecticut Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano, however, said he thought Malloy had made the occasion political and “missed his mark.”
Romano found Malloy’s message hypocritical because Democrats are themselves responsible for the sharp divides in current politics, he said. Liberals, he added, have “torn down the ideal of unity.”
He also rejected the notion that the nation finds itself at an historic crossroads in the wake of President-elect Donald Trump’s upset victory.
“It’s a crossroads for the Democrats,” Romano said. “It’s not a crossroads for Connecticut. It’s not a crossroads for the country. [Malloy]’s framing it that way to imply that somehow we’re at war with each other. And we’re not. It’s the Democrats’ refusal to accept that their message, their policies are being rejected. And so like petulant children they’re having hissy fits.”
Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney had a different take on the message. He thought Malloy seemed to strike an appropriately conciliatory tone.
Looney interpreted the governor’s decision to begin with Lincoln and the Civil War as both an allusion to another time when the country was “seriously divided” and a call for cooperation. Asked about Romano’s criticism that the message was too political, Looney disagreed.
“I think Mr. Romano tends to read partisanship into everything,” he said. “I don’t think it was really in that tone at all.”
This year’s Thanksgiving message was Malloy’s sixth as governor.