The Garnet Oak Manifesto: An Introduction to Connecticut’s Newest Voice on the Left

Other publications have accused politics of making us stupid. We’d like for politics to make Connecticut residents smart.

by J. Chelsea Long & G. Holleran

Getting into politics in Connecticut as an involved community member isn’t easy. Unless you come from the right place, go to the right school, come from the right family, join the right organization, or know somebody who has, it is basically impossible to know what happens in the back rooms of the State Capitol—even if you already know a lot about politics.

You can try reading the local paper, but it seems like as readership drops every year, some local media prefer to ignore anything controversial. That isn’t to say that others aren’t doing great work. But for every CT Mirror and New Haven Independent there is a CT Capitol Report or Republican-American, and Connecticut has yet to see a publication that truly aligns itself with the left—until now.

Most well-known socialist and/or leftist publications don’t give an insider’s look at what goes on in Connecticut, even when these issues reflect larger systemic problems. For example, Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund that bought and stripped down the Boston Herald, the Denver Post, and the San Jose Mercury News, is in the process of doing the same with the Hartford Courant. If you were just reading Jacobin, you may have caught a glimpse of the story—or not. You definitely wouldn’t know about local efforts to save the paper by the state government with union support. Jacobin is based in New York, not Connecticut, so its coverage is understandably biased toward New York issues.

Another popular socialist magazine, Current Affairs, is based in New Orleans, so going off of this pattern, one would expect them to be biased toward Louisiana politics. But an advanced search of their website shows they have two articles mentioning Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and countless articles on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Maybe that is an unfair comparison, since Cuomo is a high profile politician in the midst of nationwide controversy, but even the amount of articles referencing the slightly less polemic California Governor Gavin Newsom has Governor Edwards outnumbered.

This is a tendency in leftist media: it is easier to comment than to educate and it is easier to cast a wide net to claim a niche audience that already agrees with you than it is to try to cultivate that audience from a more general readership. At Garnet Oak Magazine,  we have a different theory: that by being accessible, charming, and well-written, we can expand the audience of people who agree with us.

Garnet Oak Magazine is a publication run by socialists, but we don’t seek to be another voice screaming different spins on the same hot takes into the void. While there are numerous socialist rags making cogent commentary on national politics, none of them are in our backyard. We think, therefore, that the best way to make our work sustainable is to angle it toward Connecticut politics and current events.

Using this strategy, however, we find ourselves faced with the challenge that is perhaps what leads publications like Current Affairs to abandon their roots and appeal to a national audience: the presumably small number of self-identifying socialists or leftists in our locale. We don’t want that to cause us to leave Connecticut. In fact, we think there are probably more leftists or potential leftists in our ranks than we realize. Or maybe we’re wrong. Either way, we want you here with us. To use an organizer analogy, we aren’t only trying to mobilize the base, we are trying to expand it!

Want to get involved? Submit articles and pitches or contact us if you are interested in joining our editorial team!

Editors’ note: A previous version of this article stated that Alden Global Capital owns the Boston Globe, but it actually bought and stripped down the Boston Herald. We thank the Hartford Courant Guild for the correction and additional information about publications Alden has bought out.

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