Submitted by Dan Quigley, Greenwich RTC Chair
On the heels of last week’s election, now seemed as good time as any to take stock and examine where the local Republican Party stands. As Chairman of the RTC I have to be prepared to address the many diverse perspectives and opinions within our party. This can require much patience and a lot of listening. However, there are times when it becomes clear that no amount of patience or attentiveness will suffice. I have reached that moment with the fringe right element of our party. I want to make it clear that their values are not commensurate with those of the vast majority of Greenwich Republicans.
As Republicans, it is important for us to articulate what we stand for as well as what we stand against. The Greenwich Republican Party has traditionally been a center-right party. Our core values have always been based around a belief in efficient government, fiscal responsibility, best in class services and schools, and ensuring that Greenwich remains a wonderful place to live. I think the results of this past election confirm that Greenwich is still a center-right community – socially moderate and fiscally responsible.
Ours is also a tolerant and increasingly diverse community. As Republicans, we should feel very fortunate to have Fred Camillo as our First Selectman. Fred listens to opposing viewpoints and reaches across the aisle to form consensus opinions. Republicans can learn a lot from watching Fred. His leadership style has worked and it is sustainable. The broad support he received in the recent election transcended party allegiance, and the breadth of his win should serve as a blueprint for Greenwich Republicans.
Throughout our nation’s recent history, one term Presidents do not remain as their party’s titular leader. Not Taft, not Hoover, not Jimmy Carter and not George H W Bush. They usually politely retire from center stage. So, it puzzles me why Donald Trump should be any different. His recent threat to discourage Republicans from voting in the 2022 mid-term election confirms that he is an ego-driven political opportunist, not a Republican. Mr. Trump lost his re-election bid. It is time for him to move on, and it is time for Republicans to move on from him. Locally, his 36.6% of the Town’s vote was the worst Republican showing in Greenwich since Herbert Hoover in 1932. Our party must find and embrace new leadership at a national level if it is going to achieve broader success going forward.
Being a Republican “Right Winger” used to mean that you were hawkish on fiscal, social issues and foreign policy. Now, this group has morphed into a cluster of angry outsiders who embrace fringe issues, basing their conclusions on dodgy facts and conspiracy theories. Locally, Greenwich Patriots are a perfect example of this. They routinely act in their own best interests, do not represent or care about the local Republican Party and use misinformation and distortion of facts to manipulate opinions.
While parents have every right to voice their concerns about schools to the Board of Education, bullying tactics by Greenwich Patriots at BOE meetings and at the recent BOE election recount are unacceptable and are counterproductive to the basic democratic tenet of civility. Furthermore, peppering their Newsletters with troubling comments referencing “Brownshirts” and making other public remarks that equate being asked to wear a mask in public places with living in “Nazi Germany” undermine the credibility of this group, and offend many. Greenwich Patriots epitomize the perpetual state of anger and divisiveness that has crept into our local and national political discourse.
The term “RINO” (Republican in Name Only) is an oft used derogatory acronym by people on the far right meant to dismiss more moderate Republicans. Instead, I would suggest that it should be applied more accurately to the far right itself. They co-opt the “Republican” brand so they can appear more mainstream. I want to be clear that I believe the opinions and public statements of Greenwich Patriots do not represent those of mainstream Republicans in Town.
Local Democrats have a similar problem with a group in their party who bully people and write nasty things on social media. They use surrogates like “Greenwich Parents for Students” and internet trolls to deliver these messages. The comments they write further undermine our ability to have civil political discussions and sow the seeds of anger instead of promoting genuine and respectful debate.
The local Republican Party is fortunate. In Fred Camillo, we have a leader who has shown us a clear path forward that produces both electoral victories and positive results for our entire community. While a Republican Fred governs for ALL of Greenwich by ignoring the negative discourse, focusing on the positives and engaging with all constituents. The election shows unequivocally this has proven to be the right recipe for success in Greenwich, and Republicans should proudly endorse and adopt it.
Greenwich is a wonderful community that we call home, and as First Selectman Camillo recently said in an Op-Ed, “Greenwich’s greatest asset is its people”. As Chair of the RTC, I am grateful and humbled that the people of Greenwich put their faith in Fred and all of our candidates on November 2nd.
Along with Fred, I will do my best to ensure that we continue to earn that trust going forward, and that we do our part to set a high bar in our public discourse.