Travis Rowley: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left
Monday, June 21, 2010
GoLocalProv MINDSETTER™ Travis Rowley is releasing a new book this week, The Rhode Island Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left. Below is the first chapter of his book - exclusive to GoLocalProv. Click here to read his interview with GoLocalProv about the new book.
Chaper 1 - Extreme and Corrupt
"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect" - Mark Twain
Within political chatter people speak casually of "extremists" and the "far Left,” as if these entities exist only in some distant land.
But sometimes the crap is right under your nose.
Now, where else would one expect to discover the "far Left"? Look around, Rhode Islanders. This is what extremism looks like.
It is an inevitable phenomenon for a homogeneous group to drift out of the mainstream whenever intellectual opposition is nonexistent. We witness this occurrence often within the media and our universities, but we also find it within our state's General Assembly. For decades, Rhode Island has fostered the one-party condition that naturally cultivates ideological extremism. This has opened the door for leftist radicals to gain influence over the leftist party, people who would have otherwise been filtered out by the democratic process of debate-and-decision.
If the RIGOP can be blamed for anything, it is that they have failed to become the formidable entity that would have tempered Democratic tendencies. Instead, Rhode Island became a thicket of radical liberalism, where there is no longer much difference between devout socialists and many, many Rhode Island Democrats.
Also resulting from the state’s one-party structure is a case of chronic sleaziness. One of the state's most obnoxious myths is the idea that Rhode Island's longstanding reputation of corruption is due to the small size of the state, the all-too-familiar notion that In Rhode Island, everyone knows everyone. But the state's embarrassing reputation can be much more aptly attributed to a decades-long absence of political rivalry. Political rivalry within an open democracy spawns illuminated contests, allowing the public to oversee the antics and missteps of elected representatives. It not only curbs extremism, but corruption and governmental inefficiency as well.
Throughout the years, however, scores of local elections have simply gone uncontested, leaving the state in the hands of untalented, unqualified, low-life politicians – the expected mediocrity when matters are not immersed in a competitive environment.
Liberals scoff whenever their critics invoke the word "socialism" to describe Democratic policies, deflecting the criticism by charging Republicans with attempting to frighten the public with absurd comparisons. Left-wing activist Brian Hull whined on the notoriously left-wing blog RIFuture.org, "No matter what Democrats do, Republicans will berate and chastise them for being Socialists, and 'tax and spend' liberals." And when President Obama's redistributive policies came under scrutiny in 2009, MSNBC anchor Carlos Watson proffered the possibility that "socialism is becoming the new N-word."
Republicans shouldn't shy away from accurately describing their political opponents. Not only in deeds, but also by their own words, Democrats have rightly earned their collectivist reputation. "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody," Barack Obama mused on the 2008 campaign trail. A Gallup Poll taken in January 2010 revealed that 61% of self-identifying liberals hold a “positive view of socialism.” The liberals’ corresponding political party seemed to agree. 53% of Democrats also said they had a “positive view,” compared to only 17% of Republicans. And DNC Chairman Howard Dean confirmed years of Republican warnings late in 2009, when he said:
"There's not so much of a debate on the Left anymore about capitalism - whether we should have it or not. There's a debate about how to have it. I think capitalism is always going to be with us because capitalism represents part of human nature. But the other part of human nature is communitarianism. There's a natural tendency of human beings, in addition to wanting to do things for themselves, they feel a great responsibility in wanting to be part of a community. So I think the debate for the new generation is, instead of capitalism or socialism, is we are going to have both, and which proportion of each should we have in order to make this all work. It's a much more sensible debate."
Now, imagine a state where, for decades, the likes of Howard Dean had unchallenged control over societal direction. Without a rival political faction to challenge the redistributive plans of conniving central planners, under what economic conditions might one expect to find this particular state?
It is often said that Republicans have an uphill battle in a state with an historical prejudice against the term "Republican." Perhaps nowhere, some say, are the myths of Republican greed and cruelty stronger than in the solidly Democratic State of Rhode Island.
However, it is my contention that the prejudice against Republicans is not as strong as some people would like Republicans to believe. Rather, it is just another myth that is meant to discourage conservatives from even attempting to organize a political force that could threaten the Democrats' power.
First off, it has been my own experience that, upon informing any random Rhode Islander that I am a Republican, intrigue is the customary reaction. Not derision.
And if Rhode Islanders hate Republicans so much, then why do the voters almost always elect a Republican governor? Despite the election of many Democratic legislators to the General Assembly, after most gubernatorial races it becomes apparent that Rhode Islanders still prefer an adult at the head of the household.
The fact that the citizens of Cranston, Warwick, and Woonsocket currently enjoy Republican mayors also suggests that there are more contributing factors than irrational predispositions that have caused the dearth of Republicans within the General Assembly. These factors principally include a long-time failure to galvanize a well-funded, statewide conservative party that could compete monetarily with union-funded Democrats.
Throughout the years, even while Rhode Islanders were maintaining their conservative principles, the RIGOP was failing to significantly exist for them. And Democrats wound up reaping the benefits of nonsensical voting habits.
Resulting from this one-party scenario has been utter voter bamboozlement. The Democrat Party simply became everything. Everything to Everyone. Because the surest way to achieve elected office was on the Democratic ticket, liberals, far-left progressives, and small-government conservatives were all subsumed into the ideological makeup of the RI Democrat Party.
With Democratic membership spanning the entire political spectrum, the term "Democrat" came to mean absolutely nothing. Imagine if Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Jorge Posada – dressed in full Yankee uniforms – were in the starting line-up for the Boston Red Sox. Could we honestly refer to the team as the "Red Sox" anymore? No, we couldn't. Yet, this is the type of philosophical relativism tolerated by the state's leftist party, and perpetrated upon the People of Rhode Island.
Former Democrat Party Chairman William Lynch tried to explain this confusing political condition in December 2009: "Rhode Islanders tend to disapprove of the General Assembly, but approve of their own elected representative." Why is that? "Because they get to know them personally," explained Mr. Lynch.
The majority of elected Democrats can accurately be described as tax-raising, big-government liberals. Yet, a majority of Rhode Islanders assume that their own Democratic representative can't be part of the problem.
Rhode Islanders aren't stupid. They've just been robbed of their political compass, a two-party system. One-party rule inhibits political branding, which leaves voters entirely mystified. It now takes extra initiative to investigate the hearts and minds of local politicians in order to discover what type of Democrat one is voting for. And we know that few Rhode Islanders perform this extra initiative, as this is the voting populace that actually elected Sheldon Whitehouse.
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