The Tea Party vs. Ocean State Action: No Contest

Monday, April 18, 2011


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“We all do better, when we all do better.” – Kate Brock, Executive Director of Ocean State Action

Present at the RI Tea Party’s third annual Tax Day Rally last Friday was a handful of Tea Party critics, who mocked the conservative crowd with signs that read “We Want Crumbling Roads” and “No Education for Poor People.” Certainly, and per usual, these were statements meant to castigate Tea Party members as cruel and selfish individuals. But they were also meant to deride the idea of reducing government spending, insisting that cost-cutting policies will result in poorly delivered government services.

Standing in solidarity with the Tea Party detractors was Kate Brock, the Executive Director of Ocean State Action – a Marxist advocacy outfit closely connected to organized labor. Brock elaborated on the sentiments of the counter-protestors: “Taxes pay for our schools, roads, public safety. We need to raise revenues to support our government.”

Brock maintains that Rhode Island must sustain, and even expand, its already exorbitant tax structure in order to provide cops, schools, and roads.

But Rhode Island had paved streets and public servants well before it became one of the highest-taxed states in the country. Only after the implementation of progressive government did Rhode Island’s roads and bridges become continuously ranked “among the nation’s worst,” and its public schools become known as some of the “lowest performing” in the country.

Brock doesn’t need the Tea Party to destroy the state’s schools and infrastructure. Progressive Democrats have already accomplished that.

Recycling Bad Policy

Still, Brock and other progressives persist in their attempt to recycle their tax-and-spend strategies in order to revive the Rhode Island economy. As Brock expressed recently on Channel 10 News Conference, “[We can’t] cut our way to prosperity.”

Moreover, Brock’s simple statement on the purpose of taxation is emblematic of how the Left dishonestly downplays and mischaracterizes the Tea Party’s message of limited government. For conservatives, the efficient delivery of basic government services would be a pleasant occurrence. It’s just that legitimate public programs are now being ignored by politicians who are primarily beholden to the desires of the government ruling class, rather than the needs of the taxpayers. The potholes will be filled. Your kid will learn his math. And business owners will get tax relief. But only after government employees get their 3 percent pay raise!

Those have been the priorities of progressive government. And that’s the culture of oppression the Tea Party aims to identify, isolate, and obliterate. Conversely, Brock is just another member of the state’s powerful establishment, doing her best to protect the Democratic kingdom.

Brock’s Socialist Roots

But Brock’s political instincts are of no surprise to those who understand her socialist roots. As she explained on Channel 10 News Conference, “I volunteered [at Amos House] when I was 12 years old, and that’s when I learned about social justice and about how our world is not just. There are some people that are haves, and there are have-nots.”

Armed with this anti-capitalist perspective since childhood, Brock has set out to rectify the situation: “I want to live in a state where…every child has a high quality education. Everyone has access to healthcare. Everyone is able to feed their family and heat their home.” Credit reporter Bill Rappleye for then asking, “But feed their family and heat their home because the taxpayers are paying for it?” Stumbling a bit, Brock responded, “Look, we have a responsibility to our citizens. We have a responsibility to one another. And this is what I learned when I was volunteering at Amos House. We have a responsibility to look out for our fellow citizens. We all do better, when we all do better.”

Wrong, Kate. We already had this debate. It was called the Cold War.

Progressive Government Has Failed

Progressives can call the Tea Party “extreme” all they want. And progressives can call proponents of free-markets “cruel” all day long. But they can’t run from this reality: Absent of conservative influence for decades, Rhode Island now serves as a perfect specimen of progressive government. And the results are in—Total Failure.

For years, union-Democrats have been savaging the state’s most desperate communities – enslaving minorities to failed school systems and sentencing them to lives of crime, poverty, and despair. For everyone else, the quality of their lives has been diminished by high tax rates, redistributive policies, empty pension funds, a stifled business climate, a decline in economic prosperity, and the break-up of Rhode Island families – whether by a son who moved away for a job, or a grandmother who retired to Florida.

So the next time Kate Brock shows her face before the hard-working people she has been taxing for decades in order to fund her unfulfilled utopian dream, perhaps she should confront them not with arrogant signage, but rather on her hands and knees, groveling for their forgiveness.

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


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