Arthur Christopher Schaper: Forget Father and Son Chafee
Friday, June 28, 2013
In addition to the “Great Fiasco” (a “Great Awakening” now dormant), a Republican has sometimes stepped into the Governor’s Mansion to make the most out of a mostly bad situation. Or make it worse. As far as making the most of a bad situation, such could have been the case with Governor (later Senator) John Chafee. Sadly, such was the case that he made a bad situation worse, and his son Linc, the faux-Republican then Independent, now a Democrat, has merely prolonged the partisan agony. Today, two problems plague Rhode Island: union hall dominance in the statehouse and tax-and-spend statism in every other house. This plague on all houses rests squarely on Democrats, but Rhode Island’s public sector employees receivedcollective bargaining rights because of Republican Governor John Chafee. He also instituted the state income tax, thus abandoningthe principles that hehadcampaigned on to get re-elected.
“Father John” is The Elephant in the Middle of the Room” for the Rhode Island Republican Party because he sold out his state the way a farmer fattens then slaughters a pig for sale, and thus the Elephant Party has not been in the middle of Rhode Island Politics. John’s son Linc, just like his father, has made politics more important than the people or principle, or even party loyalty. Now deceased, Governor Chafee's legacy is still chafing Rhode Island residents. While red states are getting rid of their income taxes–and New England residents who want to live free can run to New Hampshire and avoid the sales tax, or go to Massachusetts and pay less for gas–Rhode Island leaders want more taxes. The state’s Republican Party has to decide whether to stick with the old stock, or move on to the new. The latest Republican election, with Mark Smiley winning the state party chairmanship, is showing new signs of life, including the reintegration and repudiation of the "Old liberal wing" vs. “The New Leadership” to keep the voice, stand on the values, and get the votes for the party.
Despite his father’s failures, Governor Lincoln Chafee had the opportunity to amend the mistakes, or to upend them altogether. By doing so, he could have further established his "Independent" status, the same way that Republicans can cheer when President Obama issues waivers for the very un-conservative mandate "No Child Left Behind". Unfortunately, Lincoln Chafee the RINO (Republican in Name Only), who turned into an INNO (Independent of New and Noteworthy Opinions) has become a political DINO (Democrat In Need of Obama), trying to rescue his extinct integrity and extinguished influence.
Chafee could have modeled true Republican leaders, instead of his father. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie enacted pension reforms with private sector union party bosses in his state legislature. Garden State laborers will thank Christie years from now because his reforms saved their pensions. Christie also cut taxes three years in a row while balancing the budget. Then there’s Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose reforms instituted paycheck protection for public employees, while requiring them to contribute more toward their pensions. School districts and cities can renegotiate expensive labor contracts without the resistance of labor unions. Linc could have even followed Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's "Workplace Fairness and Equity" reforms, which have freed up workers in the Wolverine State. Now, they can choose whether to join a union or not, and the unions must earn their members’ dues and prove that they serve the best interests of their members. The latter two governors' proposals may shake up Chafee more than Christie's efforts, but Rhode Island has a history of upstarts and rebellion.
For the record, collective bargaining reforms do not strip workers of their right to organize, nor their dignity to be represented. Nevertheless, onerous public sector entitlement programs approved by previous administrations, without consent or consideration of future taxpayers, have created an unsustainable system of debt destroying Rhode Island’s fiscal viability. Betraying his “lunchpail” constituents, Linc jumped tables to join the union-backed Democratic machine, allying himself with the very problems which have turned Rhode Island into “the petri dish of socialism”, including higher taxes made higher, paving a perverse path on the road to insolvency. Putting away Father John and Son Linc, Rhode Island Republicans can respect the contributions of public workers, both occupational and financial, while instituting structural changes to save pensions, lower taxes, and create jobs. Instead of being like (or even liking) Father John or Son Linc, the RI GOP can forge a new identity to renew their state.
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter @ArthurCSchaper, reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and read more at Schaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.
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