Until that time, I had paid little attention to Christopher Shays' ten term career in Congress and previous seven term career in the Connecticut House of Representatives. Indeed, I hadn't focused at all on this smooth-talking legislative 'lifer', until CSpan's accidental introduction.
Christopher Shays' town hall meeting immediately got my attention. It was the first such assemblage I'd witnessed on TV. What a great public service, I thought. But the longer I watched, the more my perception of Shays' good-willed intention morphed into a vision of a preening, self-centered ideologue who chastised his detractors every chance he got. A lesson in contempt and condescension.
What had seemed at first like a great public service was a PR ploy instead. I continued to watch just the same...
At best, Shays came off as 'affably arrogant'. He was then, and remains now, lean, graceful, well-groomed and attractive, gifted with a soothing voice and pleasing manner. I could see why he was elected.
At worst, Shays appeared dangerously narcissistic. Impenetrable by any thought or idea that wasn't his own. Within a very short time I concluded that Mr. Shays should be un-elected. He showed no comprehension of what a "representative" should be. He was the quintessential self-absorbed politician. The 'you're so lucky to have me' kind of guy. A stalwart defender of George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. An absolute believer in his Party's policy of pre-emptive war. Unflappable. Unchangeable. Completely uninterested in the dissenting opinions of the people in his 'domain'.
Shays shrugged off his constituents as a Royal would shrug off a plebe. Person after person challenged his pro-war position. Shays responded again and again with proclamations similar to: 'You elected me to lead and that's what I'm doing.' 'When you elect a leader it's the leader's job to lead,' 'I was elected to make the decisions.' Shays constant dismissal of the people in his district proved he represented no one.
The electors were in lock down. The elected held the key.
Oh sure, Mr. Shays wasn't abrasive like Ted Stevens, whose pork barrel greed ought to humiliate Alaskans. He wasn't craggy like Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, who uses his Intelligence Committee Chairmanship to support the abuses of Bush. He wasn't Neanderthal like House Speaker Dennis Hastert who masks his party's improprieties to safeguard its supremacy. He wasn't an over-nicotined, over-indulged sleaze like John Boehner who snuggled in the pocket of Jack Abramoff.
Shays' persona was much less offensive than his cohorts', but his righteous indignation was not. In the end, Shays was a preening egotist, who until his current race for re-election, believed he'd hold residence in Congress for good... his own good.
Clearly much has transpired over the past couple years since that town hall meeting with Christopher Shays. The United States has plummeted into a much more desperate state. Iraq is in ruins with no solution in sight. Afghanistan is back in the control of the Taliban. African genocide goes on unabated. The American treasury has been ransacked by war profiteers. Habeas Corpus has been repealed. The Constitution has been undermined and assaulted again and again. Corruption is the modus operandi of Government. The election system is in peril. The American middle class has sunk into poverty. Corporations rule. The United States is despised. Its President internationally recognized as the number one threat to the world.
But out of these horrors lies a glimmer of hope. Those responsible for the demise of our nation are presently being held to account. And that includes Christopher Shays, fighting hard to hold onto his seat. Opposing Shays in this critical midterm election is Democrat Diane Farrell, the impressive eight year First Selectwoman of Westport, Connecticut, who according to the latest Reuters/Zogby poll, holds a steadily widening lead.
As for Chris Shays' town hall meeting months and months back to which I was merely a viewer, its significance impacts me today. I, too, am a constituent and a voter, though thousands of miles away. As such I can still recall the exasperated faces of Shays' constituents when their opinions were tossed away. When Shays made clear that HE was the only decider.
To the long-haired pro-peace man who stood in the aisle, on Tuesday you will win. To the frail senior woman who did just the same, on Tuesday you will win. To the auditorium filled with people whose views were ignored, on Tuesday you will win. On Tuesday you become the deciders who will catapult Chris Shays from his throne.
A further note to the good folk of Connecticut...
Newly Independent Joseph Lieberman, another Connecticut war-hawk and Bush devotee, also ignored your opposition to the war and lost his primary election. Millions across the nation applauded your noble stance. Hopefully, you won't abandon that stance by electing Mr. Lieberman again. To do so would be a tragic rendering of the power you displayed so valiantly at the polls. Ned Lamont is a better alternative to Joe Lieberman. Connecticutters shouldn't be duped into six more years of war-mongering by the prowess of a seasoned campaigner. Lieberman remains slick, ideological and deaf to his constituents' pleas.
Unless you have changed your position on the war and support it like Joe Lieberman does, you have no reason to re-elect him. Don't fall prey to his political skills. Hold tight to your values. Send Lieberman packing. Make Lamont your Democrat in the Senate.
Send Lieberman and Shays to their personal houses. Not the ones we Americans own.