Gov. Dannel P. Malloy delivered an unusual Thanksgiving message Wednesday that reflected the tumult, turmoil and tragedy of a year in which the U.S. has reeled from mass shootings, devastating hurricanes, culture-changing disclosures of sexual harassment and predation, and a general coarsening of public discourse.
“I worry about the state of our democracy. I don’t worry about the ability of the American people to respond over the long haul, but they are really being challenged on the short,” Malloy said in an interview in his office. “That’s something I wanted to address in a communication.”
Malloy, 62, a new grandfather facing his own transitions with the approach of his last year as governor, said he found things in the last year that raised his spirits, such as Connecticut’s welcome of international refugees and the uneventful arrival here of Americans displaced by storms from homes in Puerto Rico.
“We’ve not gotten a single complaint from anybody about the folks we’re taking in from Puerto Rico,” Malloy said.
Malloy, who frequently spars with the press, smiled and said, “I even stood up for journalism.”
In February, a new American president pronounced the press as “the enemy of the people,” not a profession that makes mistakes, but one that fabricates stories about him and delivers “fake news.”
In October, a poll found almost half of Americans agree with him, though only a small minority favored allowing him to punish news outlets.
Malloy said the nation is unsettled, its democracy challenged in ways it hasn’t seen since the 1930s. “America wants an independent press, but they are being fed in the short run information that they are having a hard time processing,” he said.
The governor’s message is below.
‘Our fair share of challenges’
“Thanksgiving is a time for reflection and unity. At dinner tables across our state and throughout our country, families will have a chance to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of their daily lives and spend time with those they love. As we do so, we must never forget where we came from, how we got here, and where we envision ourselves going.
“What started as a celebration of a successful corn harvest in 1620 has turned into a day that, perhaps more than any other, strikes at the heart of the American experience. Our state and nation have had our ups and downs since that first Thanksgiving. We’ve celebrated countless triumphs and advancements, while learning the essential lessons inherent in our missteps and our faults.
“Throughout it all, the enduring force that has guided us through these experiences and made Connecticut the strong, vibrant and diverse state that it is today has been our people. And that is what I am thankful for on this Thanksgiving day.
“It is no secret that we as a country have encountered our fair share of challenges over the past year. We’ve felt the devastation of hurricanes Irma and Maria, which ravaged our shores and displaced thousands of innocent people. And we grieved over the countless lives lost to the scourge of gun violence and mass shootings. At times, it may seem like these tragic events may get the best of us; that we are at the mercy of the adversity that we face. But what we’ve witnessed in the aftermath of these struggles proves otherwise. For it is precisely at these pivotal moments that the good people of our country and our state stand up, make their voices heard, and continue the work that our founders laid before us.
“Every day as I travel across Connecticut, I meet people that give me hope, and a new reason to be thankful. I’ve seen our brave first responders jump into action at the drop of a dime. I’ve seen businesses and corporate entities engage with the communities that they are a part of, recognizing the boundless promise of what we can achieve when we share in both our sacrifices and our successes.
“Our brave military service members continue to make us proud, and our National Guardsmen have engaged in over seventy missions to help with the recovery efforts for our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico.
“People from across the political spectrum are coming together to transform our criminal justice system from one of permanent punishment to one based on reform, reintegration, and human dignity.
“At a time when some are challenging the function of a free press, I am thankful to live in a nation that respects the fundamental role that journalism provides for everyone who lives in a free and democratic society.
“This year, we’ve borne witness to the power and strength of women. From the corporate boardroom to the ballot box, women are making their voices heard, and it is time for us all to listen.
“Survivors of sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination are courageously stepping forward, sharing their experiences, and engaging the nation in important and long overdue conversations. Their courage and actions offer our country an opportunity to take a better path forward.
“While there are serious challenges and difficulties that lay ahead, we must focus not on that which divides us, but on the common bonds that unite us all.
“Connecticut is a place where people of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, and religions are treated with equality, respect, and dignity. We stand up to injustice. We open our doors and our hearts when our neighbors need help. And, we speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.
“Connecticut isn’t just a place to live; it’s a special place to call home. This Thanksgiving, and every Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for all the people that make Connecticut our home.
“I wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.”