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Travis Rowley: The Texas of the Northeast?

Saturday, July 14, 2012


If the average person was engaged in a word-association game and the word “Texas” was offered to him, it would not be surprising to hear this response: “Republican!” And if the name “Rhode Island” was offered, certainly nobody would be surprised to hear this response: “Democrat!”

While Rhode Island has been controlled by Democrats for over 70 years, Texas is the state that produces governors such as George W. Bush and Rick Perry – and whose state legislature is dominated by members of the GOP. In fact, there may be more kids in Senator John Tassoni’s illegal day-care center than there are Democrats in both of Texas’ two legislative chambers.

While it did become the focus of most local media outlets this week, it really wasn’t very shocking when a CNBC report ranked Rhode Island last in this year’s “Top States for Business” report. After all, the Democratic General Assembly just designed and passed a state budget that siphons millions of more dollars out of the state’s private sector. Calling it a “status quo budget,” House Minority Leader Brian Newberry (R) recently explained why every Republican legislator voted against the Democrats’ plan: “We didn’t really do anything to really move the state’s economy forward…We raised...taxes here and there, which are going to hurt specific constituencies. We didn’t make any serious cuts in spending…It was a major missed opportunity to do some good…This Democratic budget punted.”

Texas At The Top

While Rhode Islanders have become accustomed to finding their state at the bottom of such studies, perhaps these habitual Democratic voters would be surprised to discover that Texas landed at the top of CNBC’s report.

While Rhode Island has experienced the nation’s “fastest population decline,” The Economist has reported that people have been moving to Texas in “droves.” Texas – a state with no income or corporate tax – is where leaders from California (one big Rhode Island) went searching for “tips on how to better their economy” last year.

To repeat: Republicans run Texas. Democrats run Rhode Island.

Perhaps worse than Rhode Island’s ranking was Governor Chafee’s reaction to the news. Chafee – who approved the Democrats’ state budget – advised everyone to look at the brighter side of the CNBC report, noting that Rhode Island was ranked “23 out of 50 for quality of life.”

While it would have been reassuring to hear the Governor promise to improve the state’s business climate by working to shrink the size of state government, Chafee instead offered remarks that were reminiscent of Bill Murray’s monologue in the movie Caddyshack. Murray – despite being a hopelessly low-level “greenskeeper” – expresses some hilariously naive optimism over the fact that the Dalai Lama once promised him “total consciousness” on his “deathbed.” Murray finished his famous speech by saying, “So I got that going for me. Which is nice.”

But Chafee’s positive outlook just may be contagious. There seemed to be some giddiness expressed this week when it was announced that JetBlue will be bringing its “high quality, low cost airline to TF Green airport.” GoLocalProv.com called the announcement “a much-needed shot in the arm for the Rhode Island economy and will create hundreds of new jobs for a state that ranks second worst in the country for unemployment.”

With so many people departing from the state, maybe airline companies are among the few that actually view Rhode Island as having an optimum business environment.

So we have that going for us. Which is nice.

A Party Problem

Two years ago I opened up The RI Republican  – a short book on Rhode Island politics – with this sentence: “The only thing that can save the State of Rhode Island is the RIGOP – the Rhode Island Republican Party.”

This proclamation wasn’t born from any long-held admiration for the GOP. It was simply an observation of current political dynamics. Progressives and public unions – the advocates of big-government – control and fund the RI Democratic Party. To make matters worse, liberal thought still has a stranglehold over the mind of its members. The big-government philosophy still resonates with most Democratic politicians.

And whether they’re afraid of primary challenges, or simply enjoy being an accepted member of the state’s powerful establishment, even the most sensible Democrats often lack the political will to do the right thing. At best, they rely on half-measures that dissatisfy both sides of vital issues – yet offer them enough political cover with both the voters and their party bosses.

This is the lack of leadership that Senator James Sheehan (D) personified so well on a recent episode of A Lively Experiment, when he defended his party by reminding everyone that Democrats – after years of Republican warnings – finally tackled state pension reform last year.

Well, whoopty-doo, Senator. But did you happen to see our ranking in the latest CNBC report – something that you and your party did nothing to prevent?

The Democratic Party simply cannot reform itself fast enough. It cannot shed itself of its big-government bosses in order to make the reforms that are needed. It remains true what I wrote two years ago: “[The Democratic Party] is a party of cowards and nincompoops, strictly beholden to radical progressives and unrelenting special interests.”

 A Party Solution 

As much as people are frustrated with party politics, there remains a party solution to Rhode Island’s problems. As Leader Newberry recently stated, “Give us 26 Republicans in the House…and we’ll have a lot of power. And then [the Democrats will] have to deal with us.”

As Texas shows us in the latest CNBC report, Rhode Island is in need of fanaticism in the opposite direction. What Democratic partisans refer to as “right-wing extremism” is, in fact, the Texas method. And it is the cure to Rhode Island’s heavy-handed liberalism.

In other words, the “Right” is, in fact, the “Middle” – inasmuch as the “Middle” represents policies that actually work.

This week’s CNBC report, along with the passage of the latest state budget, makes what I once wrote in The RI Republican as evident as ever: “The only fix for the RI Democratic Party is to shoot it dead like Old Yeller, and then hope that a less corrupted pet finds its way to the prairie.”

But only a competing political party can accomplish that. Only Republicans can defeat Democrats on a wholesale level. And only Republican legislators are willing to do what is needed in order to make Rhode Island the “Texas of the Northeast.”

Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is chairman of the RI Young Republicans and the author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left.


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Seriously , look at the picture for this story. Is there something wrong with his eyes?

Comment #1 by Malachi Constant on 2012 07 14

He's the Beaver!

Comment #2 by tom brady on 2012 07 14

Right on, Travis! Clearly you have stumped Mr. Constant and Mr. Brady. Keep 'em comin!

Comment #3 by William Suffik on 2012 07 14

LOL i almost spit my cereal back in the bowl when i read this ----

"In fact, there may be more kids in Senator John Tassoni’s illegal day-care center than there are Democrats in both of Texas’ two legislative chambers."

Comment #4 by Drew M on 2012 07 14

No body politic is "in need of fanaticism." The "middle" is not the "right." It is the middle, and location says little about the efficacy of policy.

Comment #5 by Jonathan Flynn on 2012 07 14

As the CNBC report found, Texas is at the top; Rhode Island is at the bottom.

Progressives and tax-and-spend Democrats, your folks have been at the helm for a long time. So please explain to me why our state consistently ranks at the bottom for business. Please explain to me how revenue is generated -- does it come from a prosperous business environent, or some other means? Please explain to me how taxes are generated -- do they not come from businesses and individuals who are employed at businesses?

Then explain to me why I should vote for your guys.

Comment #6 by Art West on 2012 07 14

Art, JONATHAN FLYNN is the type of guy who will still vote for Democrats this fall.

Flynn, i think Travis' point was clear. Cute comment, but you're purposely missing the point....which was this:

ROWLEY: In other words, the “Right” is, in fact, the “Middle” – inasmuch as the “Middle” represents policies that actually work.

Pretty clear to me! Plus, you're wrong. "Location" of ideology - Right or Left - is what guides policy decisions. And right-wing policies tend to offer more "efficacy" (just look at Texas). Another example: the Founders had a right-wing ideology, which informed the Constitution (policy). And, I think you'd have to agree, the Constitution said a lot "about the efficacy of policy."

You're a disaster, Flynn.

Comment #7 by Drew M on 2012 07 14

Be suspicious of any political "news" emanating from NBC, MSNBC or CNBC. Truth is usually the first victim in their "reporting."

Comment #8 by E.J. Dunn on 2012 07 14

E.J. - it would be worth re-examining, except that nearly every other publication out there that ranks state's business climates & environments also rates us near or at dead last.

Travis has it clearly spelled out: the Dems have been pulling this state (and everyone in it) off a cliff for decades, while other states whose voters actually have a desire for success and freedom and prosperity are doing fantastic economically by making the right political choices.

Want economic change for the better? Vote all of the progressives and liberals out of office and watch how quickly things change for the better in RI.

Comment #9 by Russ Hryzan on 2012 07 14


It's nice to see you cutting loose these days, although I have to admit, I found it odd seeing an upstanding conservative like yourself hitting the hash pipe hard on the East Side at the Brown sex party last week. I was even more shocked to see you kissing strange men.

But I digress. I admit to being so struck by your cute pubescent stubble that it clouds the mind. God your eyes are dreamy...

I'm really just writing to make sure daddy's still getting that pension check every month. After all, he earned it from years of being in a public sector union. Does he give you any of that pension check to help you cover rent, Travvy?

P.S. They say everything's bigger in Texas. If ya get my meanin' cowboy. wink


Rowley Fanboi.

Comment #10 by Rowley Fanboi on 2012 07 14

I am pretty sure that we do not want anyone in RI democrat or republican, dealing with business. Look where dealing with Curt Schilling got us...His company was lured here from Massachusetts in 2010 and I believe a Republican was the governor at that time, so not one party is better than the other in RI. We need new choices!

Comment #11 by Donald McNally on 2012 07 15

Texas recently ranked worst in health care and their Governor is refusing the Medicaid expansion, which will leave millions there uninsured.

Comment #12 by Lynn I on 2012 07 15

Donald, I think it's very misinformed to say that electing a mass of Republicans wouldn't change things for the better here in RI. It's a matter of fact that the GOP stands for policies that are much different than what the Dem Party traditionally proposes. These are policies that have never been given the light of day in this state. The Texas economy illustrates the strength of a private-sector-driven society, rather than a public-sector-driven society. Throwing the 38 studios deal out there as Republican folly that is equal to decades of destructive legislation passed by Democrats just isn't fair or accurate.

Comment #13 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2012 07 15

What does Travis care about healthcare? Its been free his whole life.

Comment #14 by tom brady on 2012 07 15

Great column. Liberals may try to cast Texas as overly-conservative and backwards, but the data on job creation, unemployment and migration trends tell a different story. As Texas grows, many states run by Democrats are seeing municipalities declaring bankruptcy and high levels of unemployment.

And to "Rowley Fanboi": your ad hominem attacks on the author are disgraceful. I don't know Rowley or his sexual orientation. Nor do I care. It has nothing to do with the points made in this column. There are black Democrats and black Republicans. There are Christian Democrats and Christian Republicans. There are gay Democrats and gay Republicans. Most of the world has recognized that fact. If you feel compelled to use homophobic innuendo, you should do a quick self-check of yourself as a human being. Would you make similar comments if the author were black, disabled or Jewish? Shameful.

Comment #15 by Todd B on 2012 07 16

I hope the republican candidates are planning some hard hitting attack ads on the incumbent democrats. You know the incumbents are going to resort to totally distorted facts to paint all republicans as mean old men who want to throw all the poor people into the streets. The dems in this state have robbed RI taxpayers blind and it's easy to prove it. I hope the republican ad campaigns take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity. Sorry to say, but all the research shows that negative politals ads work the best. The positive messages are nice, but fail to get people riled up enought to vote one way or the other.

Comment #16 by Captain Blacksocks on 2012 07 17

With "Rowley Fanboi" as an example, you know you've got a strong argument when progressive/leftists come out and engage in mockery. It's a tactic that these folks will employ a lot in this election year. There is much at stake, of course. I just have a laugh, and recognize it for what it is.

Comment #17 by Art West on 2012 07 18

Run by Republicans, eh? This, no surprise I suppose:

"Feds rank Texas worst healthcare provider"

Texas ranked dead last in the federal government's latest report card on the delivery of health services, falling short in areas ranging from acute hospital care to home treatment of the chronically ill.

Texas scored 31.61 - less than half of top-ranked Minnesota's 67.31 - out of a possible 100 points in the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality annual rankings. Rated "weak" or "very weak" in nine of 12 health delivery categories, Texas dropped from 47th place in 2010 to 51st in 2011, behind all other states and Washington, D.C.

Comment #18 by Russ C on 2012 07 20

RUSS C .... And, yet, thousands upon thousands of Americans are moving there. And away from states that try to establish a liberal paradise.

No surprise, I suppose.

Comment #19 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2012 07 23

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