Disaster is looming in Connecticut politics. It’s easy to see that national politics are in a disastrous state. Whenever I see a news notification about Brett Kavanaugh’s ’87 LAW ’90 confirmation process, family separations, tax overhaul, the Russia investigation, attacks on civil rights and women’s health, along with most other things in the news, I immediately respond with anger, then with sadness and finally, with a kind of tired apathy. I feel compassion, of course, but, ultimately, I feel protected, and I feel as though those around me are protected, too. To most of us, it doesn’t seem like much of what’s happening at a national level will actually affect the Yale population. Sadly, this sense of security is both false and dangerous.
We often feel protected here at Yale. What we might not know is that this sense of protection stems from Connecticut’s tradition of progressive state and local governments. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, Connecticut has protections for abortion codified into its state constitution. If Congress changes national gun laws, Connecticut has some of the country’s most impressive gun control measures.
But all of this can change and will change if Republican Bob Stefanowski wins the gubernatorial race and if the Republicans flip the currently tied state senate. These are highly possible outcomes on Election Day, Nov. 6.
In states across the country, there is talk about a blue wave, but that is not the case in Connecticut. Dannel Malloy, our current Democratic governor, is highly unpopular. A wave of resentment toward him might tip the scales in the Republicans’ favor.
If Republicans win the governor’s seat and the state senate in November, there will be no shield against terrifying national political changes. We won’t be protected anymore.
President Donald Trump has endorsed Stefanowski, praising him as being “tough on crime.” This will almost certainly translate to an attack on sanctuary cities, which are only made possible by a piece of state legislation. This legislation will be repealed by a new administration, meaning more people throughout Connecticut and on Yale’s campus will be in danger of deportation. LGBTQ rights will be at risk, as newly-empowered Republicans might overturn the executive measures Malloy has taken to protect the LGBTQ community.
But if gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont SOM ’80 and the Democratic state senators win their elections in November, a different future is possible for Yale students and Connecticut residents. Lamont and most Democrats across the state support a $15 minimum wage. Imagine the impact a $15 minimum wage would have for every working Yale student and, more importantly, for everyone in Connecticut. If the Democrats win, they would take more aggressive action to combat climate change. Lamont’s proposed policy includes passing a requirement on carbon emissions that is stricter than the Paris Agreement. If Republicans win, climate change will go ignored.
So, what can we do as Yale students to make sure that disaster doesn’t happen here? For one, we can vote, and we can vote in Connecticut. In 2016, only 56 percent of Yale students who were eligible to vote actually voted, as reported by the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement.
We can have 100 percent participation in 2018. One new and exciting way to make this happen is TurboVote, which makes registering to vote in Connecticut or any other state as easy as possible. TurboVote sends you an absentee ballot if needed, reminds you of your polling place and will keep you updated on election information. Even if you are already registered to vote, it’s a great idea to use it. You can sign up using the “Yale Votes” link on the main menu of Student Information Systems.
In addition to voting, Yale students can take advantage of our location in New Haven and participate in campaign work here. There is already significant work happening here, and it’s easy to join in. As the Elections Coordinator of the Yale College Democrats, my job is to create opportunities for Yale students to get involved in progressive politics. Last weekend, a group of us went up to Hamden and knocked on doors for a state senate candidate in a critical district. Many people there had never canvassed before, and they all did a wonderful job. We will also be staying on campus over fall break to knock on doors, make phone calls, meet folks from all across Connecticut and hear from speakers like Lamont and Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., in addition to having a full social calendar! We’d love to have any and all Yale students with us. Contact me to get involved.
Disaster is looming in Connecticut politics, but, if we get our friends involved, if we work and if we vote, we can prevent it from happening and create a better future for ourselves and for the state.
Timothy white is a junior in Silliman College. Contact him at email@example.com .