Why is there such growing fascination with ancestry? Not everyone can trade on it for professional and political advancement as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been doing, falsely claiming association with an oppressed ethnic group, Native Americans.
Expecting to triumph in her feud with President Trump, Warren the other day publicized her DNA test results as if they vindicated her opportunism. But the test showed she was no more Native American than the typical Connecticut casino Indian - that is, only distantly related by blood and not at all by upbringing, culture, and experience, which are infinitely more important in forming character. Upbringing, culture, and experience may be relevant to a political candidacy because of their influence on character, but nobody needs a DNA test to discover them, since they are only what someone has lived through.
Apparently that’s not enough for many people these days. They seem to believe the advertising that DNA testing will tell them who they really are, though their DNA may be completely different from their upbringing, culture, and experience. This fascination implies a certain emptiness in the psyche.
Maybe the grass is always greener not only next door but also with another ethnic group or life. At least when people imagine past lives, there are always more ancient Egyptian princesses than sweating slaves getting whipped for not moving the bricks up the ramp of the pyramid fast enough. This longing may be human nature, but the only sure thing about ancestry is that, as the old saying goes, if you track yours back far enough you’ll find a horse thief.
Commuters already pay
Fending off a call from the state Senate’s Republican leader, Len Fasano of North Haven, for an audit of New Haven city government, Mayor Toni Harp last week only confirmed that an audit might be useful.
Harp, a Democrat, suggested that Fasano, who represents suburban towns, has no business questioning city government’s operations. But the mayor added that she would consider an audit if Fasano supported imposing a 2 percent tax on the incomes of suburban residents who work in the city and use its infrastructure.
Harp’s dodge was pathetic. For state government already reimburses New Haven and other cities up to half their budgets, and most of this reimbursement is drawn from income taxes on suburban residents. Most suburbs don’t receive anything close to such financial support from state government. So suburbanites already are paying what is in effect a commuter tax.
That’s why even though they don’t always realize it, suburban residents have a powerful interest in the efficiency and integrity of city government throughout the state. Resenting that interest, Mayor Harp has dared state taxpayers to reduce their subsidy to New Haven until her attitude and accountability improve.
Sympathy for the devil
The Democratic nominee for governor, Ned Lamont, has given reporters a look at his tax return, which shows that he is fabulously rich. The Republican nominee, Bob Stefanowski, has not yet disclosed his return but has spent enough of his own money on his campaign to establish that he is at least wealthy enough to live in Madison. Unaffiliated candidate Oz Griebel’s return shows he is financially comfortable if not a plutocrat like his rivals.
So all three could do something more fun than running for governor in hard times and thus seeking to become the most hated person in the state, as the next governor will become. Despite their posturing, dissembling, and evasion, a little sympathy may be in order.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Connecticut.