LETTER: Vote for Humanity this Election Day

Submitted by Allison Hope, Greenwich

A piece of sage advice I once received: Judge a dinner date not by how they treat you, but by how they treat the waitstaff.

I have learned to apply that litmus test across all facets of life, including with the sensitive political environment we are navigating.

It matters less what an elected official says than what they do, especially in those quiet moments when the cameras are turned off and they think no one is watching. That is where you can gauge their true character, their decency.

There is so much at stake this Election Day. At the core, we risk losing our humanity, that thing that keeps us from devolving into dysfunction, or worse, civil war. The thing that, when wielded positively, has the power to lift us all up. Regardless of party affiliation, we need elected officials with a strong sense of humanity, because when things are tough and there aren’t obvious answers, those with inherent humanity as a guiding force will introduce solutions that put public interest above ego, inclusive policies above interest groups, respect for our liberties and collective progress above divisive culture wars that marginalize and censor.

Allison Hope and Hector Arzeno at the Pride event at Greenwich Town Hall.

It’s the difference between Hector Arzeno, who is running for State Representative for the 151st District, a deeply caring and thoughtful business and community leader who understands what it means to walk in another’s shoes, and Peter Sherr, who is long known even among members of his own party for his inability to treat others fairly and control his own temper, most recently evidenced by his vulgar remark on Zoom in front of teachers and parents and yes, children, and his refusal to apologize.

There’s no contest about who would better care for the people in his constituency. It’s the difference between Trevor Crow, who is running for state senate and who showed up to lend her support at this year’s LGBTQ Pride event; and Ryan Fazio, who was nowhere to be seen. Actions speak louder than words.

It’s the difference between Rachel Khanna, who is running for state representative in the 149 th district and who has the endorsement of every group on the critical issues that most impact us, including women’s reproductive rights, gun control, climate action, and so many others.

Khanna’s opponent, incumbent State Rep. Kimberley Fiorello, meanwhile, has stood at the front of right-wing protests, waving signs to condemn others with questionable evidence and before investigations have been completed, but doesn’t bother to show up to support groups that have a long history of documented discrimination, including the LGBTQ community during Pride.

To those worthy events she did show up to, like the Juneteenth celebration in town, come on the heels her lecturing fellow House members for seeing everything through a so-called “racial lens,” not to mention voting against bills that would actually help Black people.

Indeed, Blumenthal and Himes, Lamont and Bysiewicz, and so many other Democrats, have a long history of public service and strong records of ushering in policies and laws that reflect a more humane and decent society. We need to lean into this posture and not let fear or greed or misinformation guide our vote. Most of all, we need to show up to vote, because turnout will determine whether we will invite humanity back in this November.

Greenwich is a microcosm of America that is not exempt from the right-wing extremism.

Fiorello and Fazio, for example, recently attended a Greenwich fundraiser in support of Tudor Dixon, an anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ election conspiracy theorist.

As a town, we have been attacked by, and indeed in cases fallen victim to, a small but vocal faction of education and progress-hating fear-mongers that have lost their sense of decency and are trying to strip the humanity from us all. They are trying to tell our qualified teachers and librarians how to do their jobs, trying to ban access to information – a page right out of the fascist playbook – and sowing discord with topics that they do not even understand, like Critical Race Theory and Title IX with regard to transgender girls playing sports.

They are trying to burn it all down, but don’t realize that the torches they’re wielding will eventually burn their own houses down as well. Indeed, they want to destroy civil institutions and progress made to right-size inequities and quiet the bullies, with no actual, meaningful solutions proposed in its place. No country has found a better system after Democracy has crumbled. No humane leader would limit progress and liberty.

The good news is that more of us than not want to keep Democracy and work on fixing it so it represents the will of the majority. More of us believe in a women’s right to choose, or a person’s right to marry whom they love, or a child’s right to have access to an education that doesn’t erase the truth about our past.

Humanity is our saving grace. We must not let the bullies win. Our biggest, single super power is to show up en masse and exercise our Democratic right to vote.

Mark your calendars for November 8 and cast your vote in favor of humanity this Election Day.