The Connecticut GOP got shellacked in this past November’s election. In an off-year election, where the party not in power in the White House traditionally gains seats nationally, the CT GOP continued its losing ways.

We mistook high inflation, high gasoline prices, a perception of higher crime as substantive campaign issues versus a policy-driven party and platform. Surely the historic effect of an off-year election should have given a tail wind to the Republican effort.

Please imagine, if you might, had inflation not been at a 40-year high, gasoline prices were still at $2.25 per gallon and crime was merely bumping along, how much worse the CT GOP would have done in its policy-free, disconnected campaigns.

Instead of picking up seats in the Connecticut house and senate this year, the CT GOP lost one seat in both the house and senate. The excellent gubernatorial candidate, Bob Stefanowski, lost by an even greater margin to Gov. Ned Lamont this year than in 2018, when Libertarian candidate Oz Gribel siphoned off potential votes from candidate Stefanowski. And so went the rest of the GOP slate for lieutenant governor, treasurer, comptroller and secretary of state.

For good measure, the CT GOP lost the U.S. Senate seat to incumbent Richard Blumenthal and all five Connecticut congressional districts. Not even the Herculean effort of former State Sen. George Logan was able to wrest the Fifth Congressional District from incumbent U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes.

What shall the GOP learn in defeat? The CT GOP still has no statewide leadership and has been losing since 2016 when it was tantalizingly close to legislative majorities. GOP registration statewide in the meantime is at less than 20% of registered voters and declining; and the CT GOP, toothless, has no power at the state or federal levels.

May I suggest that if the gubernatorial candidate doesn’t win, the party does not win. It was not enough that Stefanowski is a nice man and perfectly capable of leading our state. Gov. Lamont also comes across as a nice man. I debated against him and then-lieutenant governor candidate Susan Bysiewicz at an NAACP gubernatorial debate in New Haven in the 2018 campaign, and Gov. Lamont came across as a nice man then. This year when I met him after a Memorial Day parade he was nice. The insiders know plenty more than I know, but then the average voter knows about as much as I do, so that left two nice people running for governor, three if you included the candidate of the Libertarian party.

The way to win is on policy and the GOP in Connecticut, and the GOP nationally for that matter, can win on policy.

Inflation, high gas prices and an off-year election are not policies. We should again become the largest civil rights organization in America. The Republican Party was created in the 1850s to save the world’s greatest experiment in democracy from slavery and the machinations of the party of the Slave Power, the Democratic Party. That is why Whigs, Free Soilers and disgruntled Democrats formed a new political party, the Republican Party, from all different regions of our young republic to save our democracy. And save it, they did. The 13th Amendment (to end slavery), the 14th Amendment (to apply the privileges and immunities of U.S. citizenship to the states), the 15th Amendment (that prior involuntary servitude would not block the right to vote) and the 19th Amendment (women voting rights) were all Republican amendments.

It is a mistake to think that white progressives, who now proliferate in the CT Democratic Party, only screw over people of color. White progressives screw over most Connecticut residents.

In school choice, white progressives have kept public charter schools at only two percent of our underperforming public school population statewide with about 10,000 students and over 6,000 primarily high needs Black and Hispanic students on wait lists to get into the few public charters schools that we have.

Two percent is nothing. Doubling that to four percent would still be nothing. One of the finest public schools in Connecticut, the Stamford Charter School for Excellence, operates on a measly $11,500 per student state funding, which white progressives have kept below the funding of other public schools servicing students of similar socio-economic backgrounds.

Charter schools need to be included in the education cost sharing formula from day one. Furthermore, charter schools should be funded on the day that the Connecticut Department of Education approves them and not allow white progressives to block them in the legislature and from the governor’s mansion!

Connecticut’s two leading white progressives, Gov. Ned Lamont and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, have been noticeably silent on funding a charter school founded by Hispanic immigrants from Central and South America and approved by the CT Department of Education in 2018 — the year they were elected. Instead of demanding that the legislature fund this school, they have stood to the side as the allies of the teacher’s unions have fought against school choice for high needs Black, Hispanic, white, Asian and other students and have kept that school’s doors closed.

The quickest and most effective way to undermine the standard of living of the poor, who are disproportionately people of color, is inflation, which is too many dollars chasing too few goods. The white progressives in Washington DC, have unleashed a deluge of free money which has thrown gasoline on the inflation conflagration, directly undermining the standard of living of the poor, regardless of the mirage of a free lunch society.

And there go the benefits of a $15 minimum wage up in smoke in the highest inflation rate in 40 years. Thank you white progressives.

White progressives, with an occasional assist by the GOP, make our housing unaffordable and non-existent through increased minimum building requirements that did not exist with the first state building code enacted in 1971. Who wouldn’t be happy to live in a refurbished, mid-century modern house that was built without a state building code in 1955?

Other than fire safety, all the rest of the additions to the 1971 building code since 1971 have made Connecticut housing needlessly more expensive or prevented its construction or renovation in the first place. In addition, white progressives, with yet another occasional assist by the GOP, have made permitting to build a new home or apartment or renovate existing housing stock not only more expensive in the amount of professional engineers required to satisfy every demand by the state but also by the sheer time delays created in the extended permitting process to make houses even more expensive and less affordable. Instead we are expected to kiss the pinkie ring of the politician for letting us put our name on a list for “affordable housing,” subsidized housing or rent-stabilized housing, that would be ours but for the shortages created by these same politicians.

White progressives have criminalized working with one’s hands and back to put food on one’s plate by requiring licenses where none were required 40 years ago, burdening a fundamental right and thereby making life more difficult for people of color, who have fewer resources to pay for these increased minimums to participate in the economy.

White progressives have unleashed a torrent of illegal immigration to further undermine the wages and job prospects of people of color in the United States and Connecticut by ushering into our nation, people who are willing to work for less as they are off the books and it is still better here than where they came from, making it harder for American-born citizens of color to earn a better wage.

White progressives have placed a disproportionate number of marijuana dispensaries in or close to communities of color in Connecticut so as to increase marijuana use by adolescents of color 25 years and younger, which adolescents suffer from permanent brain damage from marijuana use, a depressant, a six-fold higher suicide ideation among a category of young women, greater depression and anxiety.

With the introduction of recreational marijuana store licenses, more marijuana shops will be placed disproportionately in or close to communities of color under the rubric of social equity partners for past marijuana and drug related arrests and incarcerations. The more available marijuana is, the more it will be used, despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics is against recreational marijuana for adolescents 25 and under due to its damage to the adolescent brain.

When news leaked in June, 2022, that the U.S. Supreme Court might overturn the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion, white progressives “reassured” the nation that they would ensure 100% funding for abortions for women of color. The abortion rate for Black women runs about four times that of white women and is close to 1,000 black babies aborted every day in the United States, a significant negative impact on the growth and strength of the Black community. But white progressives will keep the pedal to the metal on funding abortions for women of color. You decide

During the COVID-19 pandemic, white progressives successfully kept children home from school because that is what “science” demanded, ostracizing governors and others who counseled keeping children in school. The progressives promoted the fiction of remote learning for high needs Black, Hispanic, white, Asian and other high needs students. And so two years of education was lost for those who needed it the most. But white progressives have no remorse for their certitude and humility is not in their lexicon for flexing their considerable political muscle to the detriment of people of color and non-color alike.

Never resting to make life more difficult for Connecticut residents, progressives have been pushing climate change policies to increase the cost of home heating and electrical bills with no measurable benefit to the environment, all to assuage the former’s guilt for their carbon consumption habits, which they have no inclination of changing.

It is for the Connecticut GOP to oppose structural statism and structural racism, enacted and enforced by these statists, which are the hurdles, burdens and barriers that the state puts in the way of the citizen to get an education, to get a job, to start a business, to keep a business going, to put a roof over their head, to put food on the plate of their children and to pursue happiness as they see fit.

As Blacks have one-eighth the net worth of whites, every hurdle is taller, every burden is heavier and every barrier is thicker. That is the structural racism that white progressives have so carefully crafted in Connecticut and our nation over decades. It behooves the CT GOP to fight the structural statism/racism crafted by these self-same white progressives and to reduce these hurdles, burdens and barriers for all Connecticut residents. These are among the factors that force families to flee the unrelenting pressure of the state on the citizen in Connecticut to leave for friendlier environs outside of Connecticut.

White progressives are so proud of screwing over people of color that they even give awards to each other for doing just that. In December, 2021, a non-Hispanic, white progressive, sitting Connecticut U.S. Senator gave an achievement award to another non-Hispanic, white progressive, Democrat, State Sen. Julie Kushner, at a Communist Party affiliated group’s annual awards dinner for, in part, her Stalinesque opposition to the funding of a charter school founded and created by Hispanic immigrants from Central and South America in Danbury.

To date, she has been successful in preventing this school for primarily high-needs Hispanic and Black students from opening, which would make George Wallace very proud but should embarrass the state’s two leading white progressives, Gov. Lamont and Lt. Gov. Bysiewicz! Perhaps Governor Lamont will consider his legacy from here on out and speak up for the funding of this Danbury charter school versus his silence to date?

The CT Republican bench is deep. We have former State Sen. George Logan, former House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, Stratford Mayor Susan Hoydick, former Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, present Danbury Mayor Dean Esposito, Mayor Erin Stewart of New Britain, First Selectman Fred Camillo of Greenwich and former First Selectwoman Jayme Stevenson of Darien, to mention a few leading lights.

But to build the party into the majority party in Connecticut, the CT GOP must stand for policy and campaign on policy to fight structural statism/racism and become the largest civil rights organization in Connecticut! The national GOP would be advised to follow suit.

Peter Thalheim of Stamford is an active member of the Stamford NAACP.