Setting Some Things Straight
Although this isn’t something that I expected ever to write, the coming year’s Republican primary in Rhode Island is already a subject for blazing passions. That, in itself, strikes me as a healthy turn of events. Still, I remind commenters that Anchor Rising will insist that their conversations be civil. I should also clarify my current thinking so as to avoid being lashed (laughably) to “liberal lightweights” and accused (insultingly) of choosing my ground based on an event-lurker’s bruised ego.
I do not support Lincoln Chafee’s reelection. Long-time readers of Anchor Rising and, especially, Dust in the Light will not be shocked to hear me opine that Chafee, simply by virtue of his being a United States Senator, does damage to our nation. His being so prominent among local Republicans does further damage to both the party and the conservative movement in Rhode Island. Indeed, playing some role, large or small, in his removal from office would bring me not a little satisfaction.
Furthermore, I’ve long held, and continue to believe, that Steve Laffey brings to the table many qualities that Rhode Island needs. Allow me to restate with emphasis: that Rhode Island needs. Most significantly, that means a courage for disruption. It also means the good sense to understand the general dynamics that brought about our current circumstances and the clarity to cut through to their cores.
As Cranston’s mayor, Laffey has operated with a mandated and clear objective to clean up the municipal government and return the city to functional status. But the U.S. Senate requires a broader political and social philosophy than I’ve heard Laffey articulate — much less prove. Where will he stand on abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, same-sex marriage, or the next matter that the world thinks to heave upon its moral burden? I don’t know. More importantly, I don’t know what foundation would be informing his decisions. I’ve heard that he’s pro-life; why? On what grounds? If he will be driven on social matters by the pragmatism that drives his civic policies, then he, too, may prove damaging to our nation.
None of these questions, on their own or in aggregate, would lead me to question Laffey’s suitability as a means for unseating Chafee. However, little signs of character and personality, gathered from the news and (admittedly limited) personal experience, tilt my ambivalence toward concern. Not least among those signs is the fact that Laffey was unable to find — or wait for — a second step for his political career within the state’s borders. That inability is at least suggestive of an impatience, perhaps an arrogance, that is fundamentally at odds with the approach to government that I believe to be essential toward arresting our society’s spiral into either chaos or mechanical depravity.
That Laffey is what Rhode Island Republicans have come up with as an alternative to our unacceptable incumbent suggests to me that we are still in need of shaking up and creative turmoil. Perhaps a loss of one of their most treasured possessions — a seat in the national legislature — will force the local party operatives to reassess the necessities of success. In that process, it is not inconceivable that Steve Laffey will develop and articulate a more encompassing vision and emerge as a candidate whom I could enthusiastically endorse.
In the meantime, perhaps I’ll write in “George Herbert Walker Bush.”