Yeah, But What Kind of Democrat Are You?
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
One of the most obnoxious local 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 admittedly embarrassing reputation should, in fact, be attributed to the decades-long absence of a natural check on government fraud—political rivalry.
Political rivalry within an open democracy spawns illuminated contests, allowing the public to oversee the antics and missteps of elected representatives. It curbs extremism, corruption, and governmental inefficiency. In 2008, even George Nee, president of the AFL-CIO and a reliable Democratic supporter, admitted that one-party dominion "is terrible for the state."
Over the years, myriad local elections have simply gone uncontested, leaving Rhode Island in the hands of often-unqualified, low-life politicians—an expected mediocrity when matters are not immersed into a competitive environment. Rhode Island voters operate within a wretched electoral apparatus that permits the ascendancy of far-left politicians such as Rep. Gordon Fox, reckless big-mouths such as U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and known stoners such as retreating Congressman Patrick Kennedy.
If the state’s Republican Party can be blamed for anything, it is that they have failed to become the formidable entity that would have tempered Democratic tendencies, and the temptations of power. Instead, Rhode Island became a thicket of radical liberalism, prone to be ruled by ethically unconcerned extremists.
Political clarity has been the victim of one-party rule, as the Democrat Party is now comprised of far-left progressives, mindless liberals, and a handful of conservatives. If Democratic membership spans the political spectrum, then what does it truly mean to be a Democrat? And how much attention must Rhode Islanders offer just to recognize the difference between Rep. Gordon Fox and the more conservative Rep. Jon Brien, both Democrats?
Nobody in Rhode Island believes their elected representative could be part of the state’s fiscal problems. On a Channel 10 News Conference, former Democrat Party chairman (and Congressional candidate) William Lynch said, "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," he said. And while a majority of elected Democrats can accurately be described as liberal or very liberal, most Rhode Islanders assume that their own Democratic representative could never have contributed to the state’s liberal governance—the fact that the Ocean State now stands as one of the most oppressively taxed states in the country, with the most disproportionate welfare structure in New England.
Rhode Islanders aren’t stupid. They’ve just been robbed of their political compass—a two-party system. For decades, they have been working and raising their children, unaware that the charming individuals they have been uplifting into office were members of a philosophically extreme organization called the Rhode Island Democratic Party.
The consequences for one-party dominion can be observed within all quarters of Rhode Island life. Not only are slow-witted politicians such as State Senator John Tassoni capable of achieving elected office, but a union-Democrat alliance has placed special interests in total control of what is no longer a free and competitive economy. The state’s public schools are failing at embarrassing levels. And athletic programs are being cut from public budgets, while the infrastructure crumbles.
Because tax-and-spend is the limit to most Democrats’ political know-how, productive workers and well-to-do taxpayers are fleeing the state, leaving only public workers and Democratically-coddled slugs in charge of the state’s prosperity—the inevitable condition of a fresh Marxist territory.
So the state’s future hinges on the RI GOP’s ability to win elections, and establish the two-party order that will purge the Democratic Party of its extremists and dimwits.
Travis Rowley ([email protected]) is Chairman of the RI Young Republicans, and author of Out of Ivy: How a Liberal Ivy Created a Committed Conservative.