Travis Rowley: Ignorance - Democrats’ Best Friend

Saturday, March 16, 2013


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Travis Rowley says the real reason the Republican Party can't gain any momentum in Rhode Island is the ignorance of those still left in the state.

“The most important change which extensive government control produces is a psychological change, an alteration in the character of the people.” – F.A. Hayek, The Road To Serfdom (1944)

Adding to Ted Nesi’s WPRI story that reported that Rhode Island’s “civilian population ages 25-54 plunged by 46,000 between 2006 and 2012,” the Projo’s Ed Achorn decided to inform his readers this week of a political strategy known as the “Curley Effect.” The aim of the scheme named after former Boston Mayor James Curley is to “[increase] the relative size of one’s political base through distortionary, wealth-reducing policies.” According to Harvard professors, Mayor Curley “deliberately enacted policies that drove the middle class out of Boston to make it easier for him to win elections with votes from the poorly educated people left behind.”

Curley was – naturally – a Democrat.

Several decades later, radical Ivy League professors Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven would encourage the implementation of a strategy just as sinister, and one that would have similar effects on the urban-suburban divide. With a focus on the inner cities, the “Cloward-Piven Strategy” advised anyone “seeking new ways to engage the Negro politically [to] remember that public resources have always been the fuel for low-income urban political organization. If organizers can deliver millions of dollars in cash benefits to the ghetto masses, it seems reasonable to expect that the masses will deliver their loyalties to their benefactors. At least, they have always done so in the past.”

Once deceitful conspiracies, the “Cloward-Piven Strategy” and the “Curley Effect” have simply become part of the political and moral fabric of the entire Democratic complex. High tax rates, wealth redistribution, government dependence, radical theory, and radical dishonesty are now the proud hallmarks of America’s neo-socialist party – from party leadership, right on down to the average Democratic activist.

While the RI Left broadcasts the availability of Food Stamps on television, radio, and bus panels, and while the George Wiley Center acknowledges that they are “in the midst of a major battle…to get 60,000 more Rhode Islanders signed up for Food Stamps,” we now find the State’s Health Insurance Exchange – an ObamaCare requirement – morphing into an all-encompassing “dependency portal” where more and more Rhode Islanders can learn how to take advantage of every welfare program available.

Benefit of the Brain Drain

The dominance of this leftist political culture has certainly taken its toll on the Ocean State – politically, financially, and spiritually.

Politically speaking, ignorance not only indicates a lack of knowledge, but a lack of moral character as well. Ignorance is a spiritual condition of human debasement – a situation in which the individual becomes infantilized and his mind closes.

Well before Nesi’s report that revealed that 46,000 likely taxpayers have relocated since 2006, Rhode Island politicos have been well aware of the State’s “brain drain.” All one ever had to do in order to confirm the suspicion of a dearth of young professionals here in Rhode Island was visit the average Providence pub during happy hour.

Of course, “happy hour” is illegal in Rhode Island – which is part of the problem.

Less recognized, however, has been the political dilemma that must coincide with the loss of the energized, the ambitious, and the educated. That is, that the Democratic Party will always thrive in such a locale. It’s no secret that likely Republican loyalists are those who prefer to keep more of what they earn – known in Democratic circles as “the greedy.” And now known by RI Republicans as “the missing.”

By the Left’s own admission, the expansion of intellectual sloth favors the Democratic Party. As progressives continually remind us, a good education is vital to future success. We’re told that that is why we must secure federal student loan spending, continue funding the teachers unions with more and more tax dollars, and keep redistributing suburban cash into urban school districts.

By the Left’s own calculation, the successful are the educated. And if the educated have been discovered to be seeking success elsewhere, then we can safely characterize the remaining population as largely uneducated – and in danger of adopting the ignorance instilled so effectively by the collectivist culture.

Mr. Achorn is correct to write, “In Rhode Island, a poorer, less educated and less informed electorate makes it easier for special interests to control elections.”

Mayor Curley would be impressed with what the RI Democrats have done.

Community Organizing

Scott MacKay, a progressive staple of Rhode Island’s media establishment, commented last election season on a Washington Post story titled, “Obama’s Silent, Non-Voting Majority” – a report that found that “Obama leads Mitt Romney by 43 percent to 14 percent among the nearly 2 in 5 Americans who are likely to sit out the 2012 election.”

One could almost hear the celebration through MacKay’s pen: “Guess which presidential campaign wins if more voters show up at polls?...This means that Democrats, more than Republicans, need to refine their ground game to ensure that voters aren’t staying home.”

MacKay seemed entirely oblivious to what conservatives have always known: Politically detached Americans, those who are “largely disengaged” and “clearly aren’t paying much attention to politics,” have always been more likely to pull the Democratic lever – primarily due to the media haze in which they reside, the media residue from which they can’t escape, and the ignorance that guides them.

No sane or informed person would ever vote for a Democrat. That’s why the Left has these people called “community organizers” – professional activists and agitators trained in the art of harnessing the democratic weight of the mob.

Exercising a completely different political culture, Republicans don’t have community organizers. They have jobs. Then they have “Drop the Kids Off at T-Ball.” Then they have “Hey, Honey, Did You Remember to Vote Today?”

I know, it’s very 1950s. And it’s not very sexy. But neither are the homeless people Democrats drop off at the polling stations.

This Isn’t A Debate

By almost every measure, Rhode Island represents relative misery and government failure – and has been unmistakably guided by a Democratic policy wish-list for decades.

Yet, the average Rhode Island voter – experiencing a crumbling infrastructure, a basement economy, embarrassing levels of corruption and malfeasance, widespread poverty, dreadful public schools, a shrinking population, and shocking mismanagement of public funds and programs – remains loyal to not only the state’s ruling party, but the very same individuals who have delivered the decrepitude.

Republicans can’t win the debate here in Rhode Island. Because it’s no longer a debate. We’re dealing with a moral disorder – ignorance – that is often mistaken for stupidity and mental illness.

Everyone can stop speculating as to why the RIGOP fails to gain any traction here in the Ocean State. It’s not simply due to the master lever or voter fraud. And it hardly can be blamed on a lack of leadership, money, cohesiveness, or talent. The powerless condition of the RI Republican Party can be largely attributed to the fact that – in many ways – all the good people are gone.

Travis Rowley ( is the author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left.


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