Submitted by David Snyder, Greenwich
I never imagined the day would come when I would cringe at hearing the words “patriot”, “freedom” or “liberty”. Those words are part of our history and have a special connection to the founding of our country. Unfortunately, these words are being used by some far-right politicians to frame any and all political debates as mystical fights for “freedom” and “liberty”. Locally, we need look no further than right-wing firebrand Kimberly Fiorello to see this tactic.
This past February, Fiorello wrote an article titled; “In 2022, CT is about Freedom vs Government Control”. In it, Fiorello blasted Governor Ned Lamont for taking so long to “relinquish his emergency powers” regarding the pandemic, and the CT legislature for extending the state of emergency through June 30th. At the time, Fiorello referred to this as “Another 140 days of heavy-handed government control”.
Most residents of Greenwich would associate “heavy-handed government control” with what we have seen in China with regard to its Covid outbreak: citizens being locked in their apartments from the outside by government authorities. Of course, nothing like that occurred in CT. Rather, the extension by the CT legislature allowed economically disadvantaged residents of CT to receive supplemental Federal food funding.
The program, called SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) provides up to $95/month for needy families. Fiorello’s response was typically tone deaf. She wrote; “we who cherish freedom care not only about immediate material outcomes, but also care about spiritual outcomes” and went on to say that this type of government assistance won’t help those in need, but rather would “diminish their souls”. Try explaining that to a single parent with children who could use $95/month in extra income.
An ardent defender of freedom and liberty, those words were noticeably absent from her comments when the Supreme Court’s leaked opinion previewed their attack on women’s reproductive freedom. Instead of her usual refrain about big-government encroaching on personal liberty, the only thing that seemed to bother her was the breach of security in the leaking of the opinion.
Fiorello’s acolytes say that she is a defender of “freedom” and that she stands on principle. That implies those who oppose her are somehow against liberty, or don’t believe in freedom, and are not as principled.
Fiorello has been in Hartford for two years. What has she accomplished? Straight away, she joined the right wing Freedom Caucus (probably because it had the word “freedom” in its title). This immediately locked her into many losing votes. She proudly displays photos on social media of her many “No” votes, which are almost all in the vast minority in the legislature (even among her own party), as though that is a badge of courage. What it is, is testimony to her inability to work with others, change the minds of her colleagues (both Republican and Democratic) and forge workable coalitions within or outside of her caucus. Her predecessor, Livvy Floren was a master at that, and her legislative record showed it.
Voting against the interests of her constituents while sponsoring a handful of legislation that went nowhere is not leadership. Fiorello is out of line with the mainstream in our town and with Greenwich’s elected delegation to Hartford.
Please keep this in mind as we head into election season.