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Travis Rowley: Rowley Challenges Rhode Island Voters

Saturday, October 20, 2012


It is no small thing, the general outlook and religion of a governing body. At the end of the day, this is what ultimately informs the policies it sets in place – policies that have real-world consequences and that affect real people’s lives.

Policies that may serve to expand individual liberty, or to restrict it.

Today, Rhode Island is living under the consequences of decades upon decades of Democratic decisions. Our dismal business climate is undoubtedly linked to the fact that the state is among the highest taxed, most regulated, and heavily unionized places in the entire country. It is vital to note that these circumstances are not the results of chance. For some reason, elected Democrats considered it wise to enact such terms.

What convictions – what worldview – triggers such decisions? Democrats, Liberals, Progressives – Who are they? What do they believe? These are the questions I set out to answer each week on the pages of GoLocalProv.

Rhode Island’s problems are rooted in the fundamental morality and philosophy of its ruling political party. It is my utmost belief that, before we can solve Rhode Island’s problems, we must first comprehend the political culture of the Rhode Island Left. We must expose the assumptions they hold, the myths they spread, and the lies they tell. That’s what “Travis’ Challenge” aims to accomplish.



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Travis, This was an excellent piece. While I don't always agree with your views YOU got me with this one. Well done.

Comment #1 by tom brady on 2012 10 20

That was awesome. Letting all my liberal friends know about this!!!

Comment #2 by Sierra Lee on 2012 10 20

a great idea, young man. I'll have my Democratic friends (I still have some left) take a look.

Comment #3 by Gip H. on 2012 10 20

So, these are the "simpler gentler times" you would return Rhode Island to, that idyllic time when Republicans ran a political machine that would be the envy of any corrupt politician today?:


"This class ruled till well down into the [1880s], and its
leader, Senator Henry B. Anthony, “discovered” and
promoted Nelson W. Aldrich, his successor, who represents
the System, and General Charles R. Brayton, the boss who
developed and directs it. Since Anthony’s time, the latter-
day business man — he who makes, not cotton goods, but
money — the captain of finance, has succeeded to the control,
but he has not disturbed the foundation stone of the
System. He also rules with money. He, too, sends bribes to
the towns of Rhode Island, and to him also the good “coun-
try” American has surrendered his sovereignty. There is
no doubt about this. The corruption of the voters of the
towns of Rhode Island is so ancient and so common that
Governor Lucius F. C. Garvin addressed in March, 1903,
a “Special Message concerning Bribery in Elections to
the Honorable, the General Assembly,” etc.:

“GENTLEMEN:– … That bribery exists to a great ex-
tent in the elections of this State is a matter of common
knowledge. No general election passes without, in some
sections of the State, the purchase of votes by one or both
of the great political parties. It is true that the results of the
election may not often be changed, so far as the candidates
on the State ticket are concerned, but many Assemblymen
occupy the seats they do by means of purchased votes."

The problem is the same as it was back in 1903 - nativist sentiment that exists away from the urban centers. Most of the democrats you speak of are more like Republicans voting the ALEC line.

Comment #4 by edith pilkingoton on 2012 10 20

Almost a century of Democratic control, union influence, and liberal policies....YET, somehow Edith finds a way to blame the RI economy on Republicans.

Edith, you MUST be a lawyer.

Comment #5 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2012 10 20

Part of the problem is that many Democrats in Rhode Island do not realize the fundamental changes that have taken place in the Democratic Party in the past 50 years. This Party Today is Not your Grandfather’s or even your Father’s Democratic Party

John F. Kennedy was one of the most charismatic and popular standard bearers for the Democratic Party in the 20th Century. However, JFK’s Democratic Party of 1960 bears little resemblance to the Democratic Party of 2012. This Party has moved so far left that most traditional Democrats, who still vote a straight Democrat ticket, hold positions on specific issues that are at great variance with those of the Obama Democratic Party today.
Your fathers Democratic Party has been taken over by progressives who are but a shade away from socialism.
JFK was a God-fearing, pro-life supporter, who believed in tax cuts to stimulate the economy. He believed in individual and citizen responsibility. JFK expressed this sentiment so well with his famous quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.” The Obama Democratic Party has turned Kennedy’s quote on its head.
JFK did not engage in class warfare, he believed in American Exceptionalism, peace through strength, the sanctity of private property, balanced budgets and the enduring value of the US Constitution. He did not whine or blame others and his view of the American system was fundamentally positive. JFK served his country in war and in peace.
The Obama Democratic Party of 2012 represents a fundamentally flawed vision of America that is much different than that held by your father and JFK. It is a vision that denies American exceptionalism, sees the growth of government as a good, adheres to division and envy, takes God out of the public square, internationally denigrates friends and coddles enemies, opposes free markets and financial success, holds that voter identification statutes are a racist conspiracy, promotes collective dependency over personal initiative, encourages state compliance over individual liberty and that favors equality of result over equality of opportunity. This is a vision that includes the likes of Frank Marshall, Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayres, Van Jones, Derrick Bell and Tony Rezko.
Today’s Democratic Party holds a corrosive vision that will lead to a reduction in liberty and a weakening of JFK’s “ask what you can do for your country”. It is a vision very much at odds with fundamental American values and the Democratic Party of JFK. It is clearly not your father’s Democratic Party.

Comment #6 by Michael Byrnes on 2012 10 20

well put, michael

Comment #7 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2012 10 20

The "Not your father's Oldsmobile" campaign dates back almost a quarter century, at least.


Time to turn the page.

So, how is it that the Republican health care program proposed by Republican John Chafee that we have now, in place of the one proposed by JFK's brother isn't Republican? It's "socialist"? My how definitions have changed over the years.

Today's Democrats are not reactionary enough for you?

Comment #8 by edith pilkingoton on 2012 10 21


The "Not your father's Oldsmobile" video was fascinating but I have to admit that I am at a loss as to what message you were trying get across.

As for your discussion about John Chaffee's healthcare plan it bears some similarity to Obamacare but it was more a counter proposal to Hillarycare.

Today's democrats on a wide variety of policy issues are very different that JFK's democrats.

Comment #9 by Michael Byrnes on 2012 10 21

Now Travis is SUPERIOR. Out of context foolishness garnished with right wing paranoia. And the quotes. Travis quoting himself from the Book of Travis. Like a snake eating its tail.

Comment #10 by Jonathan Flynn on 2012 10 21

@Michael Byrnes

Thanks for the reply, Michael. I hope I didn't come across as too glib. The reference to "not your father's Oldsmobile" was what I thought was a humorous way to convey the fact that the world we live in today is much smaller, much more closely connected than it was back in my father's or grandfather's day.

You are correct about Chafee's proposal coming in reaction to Hillary's very cumbersome plan. I believe Chafee got his plan from the Heritage Foundation, which had put together a plan before Hillary's husband was even elected. Not ironically, it was called the "Assuring All Americans Affordable Health Care". The thing about Kennedy is that he had been pushing for a Universal health plan almost two decades before that and continued to do so. That is not what we got. We got the right wing think tank plan, now portrayed as a "socialist" plan by the very same people who proposed it instead of what that old guard democrat, a Kennedy, had proposed.

Comment #11 by edith pilkingoton on 2012 10 21

Another great piece Travis. You have a great gift and I am so glad you take the time and make the effort to share your knowledge, understanding and wisdom.
Edith and Michael, please keep it up. You have an excellent, mature and informative dialogue going.
I don’t have much to add, except perhaps to offer the observation that the problem with Obamacare is not its title. I believe everyone can agree that “affordable health care” is a worthy quest that all Americans would be willing to embrace. The devil with this legislation lies with its contents and mean by which it was rammed through the legislative process by a progressive administration with a democrat majority in both the House and Senate. How much more telling can it be that this process was seriously, indeed fatally flawed than to realize that its more than 2000 pages of unreadable text was never read by any of the democrat representatives who voted for it passage. Furthermore, how can any American, regardless of party affiliation, be comfortable with its passage when our former speaker of the house of representative, Nancy Pelosi, proudly, albeit ignorantly, proclaimed that “we must pass the bill in order to know what is in it”. My God, how does anyone with an ounce of common sense accept this process as the best our elected representatives can do.
The passage of Obamacare is not just wrong; it is shameful. I can only hope the our next Congress has the votes in both houses and the right guy in the White House to ensure repeal of this nightmare and replace it with legislation that is clearer, fairer and truly more “affordable health care” for all of America’s citizens.

Comment #12 by peter hewett on 2012 10 21

Thanks for the shout-outs, Travis!

Comment #13 by Samuel Bell on 2012 10 21

just watched the video again>> ...Didn't see "Samuel Bell" mentioned at all....?????

Comment #14 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2012 10 22

@Jeremy: I run the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats of America. The clip where David Cicilline jokes about Republicans calling him a communist comes from our interview with him. We're the "grassroots PAC operating inside the Democratic party" that Travis mentions. Our goal is to fight for more progressive, pro-growth, pro-equality Democrats.

We've been severely disappointed with the economic and social policies of our conservative government in Rhode Island. Economically, Rhode Island is at the bottom of the blue states (but still way above the red states, of course). Part of that is the fact that we haven't had a Democratic governor in almost 20 years. But the General Assembly has helped pass many of the far-right economic policies that have put us in this mess. They passed the Carcieri tax cuts for the rich. They approved the massive public sector layoffs. (We laid off 7.75% of public sector workers between Janurary 2008 and April 2012. That's the second highest in the nation.) They approved the 38 Studios deal and set up an EDC stacked for big business against small business. They set up a tax code that hits small businesses extremely hard. They approved the $500 minimum business tax. They created our outrageous property tax system. They set up an unemployment insurance tax that the even the conservative think tank the Tax Foundation said was the worst in the nation. They established a mess of high licensing fees. They slashed the staff of regulatory agencies, which has made it very tough for regulators to work with businesses effectively and efficiently. They underfunded education. And they violated Article One, Section Ten, Clause Three in spades.

Comment #15 by Samuel Bell on 2012 10 22

Jeremy, these are the people who actually believe that RI isn't LEFT enough. They're hard-core socialists. And a little delusional, in my opinion. (No offense, Samuel). That is hardly a list of "conservative" policies that Samuel just listed. 38 Studios, business taxes, minimum taxes, unemployment taxes, licensing fees, etc...These are policies of the political-left.

Laying off gov't workers and decreasing income taxes are good ideas, though. Generally. Albeit too-little, too-late to save a state that is stuck in neutral/decline from years upon years of socialist policy.

Comment #16 by Gip H. on 2012 10 22

Progressive Democrats are the problem, not the solution. And we do NOT have a conservative government here in RI, rather we have an extremely wasteful liberal government with a state budget that's nearly doubled over the past decade despite staff reductions and almost zero population growth. The governors of RI have little to no power, and they don't control the money. The overwhelmingly Democrat General Assembly has controlled the power and the money for the past 70+ years, however. These wonderful "progressives" (more like wasteful misguided political hacks) gave away the "store" to the labor unions in exchange for votes, then they continue to jack up the tax rates to pay for the unsustainable benefits they promised to the unions.

The property taxes are high because of Democrats giving away the store to the unions, and the wealthy people and the businesses have abandoned RI due to high tax rates and poor fiscal policy. So what do the "progressives" do? They continue to pass laws to raise taxes like the sales tax, meals tax and allow towns to raise property taxes that force seniors and retirees to move out of the state because it just isn't affordable to live here.

These "progressives" should just go away,and leave fiscal policy to people who actually know what they're doing. The voters of RI need to wake up and look at the damage the Democrat party and their "Progressive" agenda has done to the state, and restore balance to the political system so we can turn this state around.

70+ years of Progressive Democrats running Rhode Island, and the state budget is double what it should be to run a state this size, the state has a huge amount of debt, nearly 11% unemployment, ridiculously high retiree liabilities, the property tax rates are over double what most people would consider "reasonable", our transportation infrastructure is a disaster, our capital city is almost bankrupt and had nearly a $20 million deficit last fiscal year, one city already has gone bankrupt, 3 or 4 more are on the verge of going bankrupt, and the GA just instituted taxes on public transportation services (taxis)/pet grooming/high-end clothing (like a suit, which many people need to wear to work), and we now get taxed $85 by the police for not wearing a seatbelt, even though we aren't hurting anybody else. Now these Progressive Democrats want to toll our bridges (which we already paid for with tax dollars) and borrow millions of dollars more to spend on our state colleges so we can educate the students of RI and send them out of state since we have no jobs here for them.

It's pretty obvious, the people of RI have gotten the "shaft" from the Democrat party and their "Progressives". It's time to get rid of them, not vote more of them in.

Comment #17 by Russ Hryzan on 2012 10 22

"We've been severely disappointed with the economic and social policies of our conservative government in Rhode Island. Economically, Rhode Island is at the bottom of the blue states (but still way above the red states, of course). Part of that is the fact that we haven't had a Democratic governor in almost 20 years. But the General Assembly has helped pass many of the far-right economic policies that have put us in this mess."

Thanks for the laugh.... Feel free to join us in reality someday.

Comment #18 by Mike Govern on 2012 10 24

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