Ken Block: Does Ideology Trump Shared Advocacy?

It has been a week since my growing personal disgust with the state of Rhode Island’s politics and politicians publicly overflowed with the creation of the web site www.moderate-ri.org and an accompanying opinion piece in the Providence Journal. In this time, almost 200 Rhode Islanders from many political ideologies lent their voices for the stated purpose of trying to push needed procedural reforms through the legislature to attempt to clean up our governance and provide some needed balance in our legislature.
I was very pleased to hear positive responses from several folks who identified themselves as conservatives. Two responses in particular made me cringe a bit, as the respondents indicated that they reluctantly agreed with my general ideas since there seemed to be no other way to break through the hammerlock that the Democrats currently hold on the legislature.
Why would anyone not whole heartedly want to pursue advocacy for items as basic as separation of powers, not using one time cash payouts to balance the budget, or not allowing politicians to buy their way out of an Ethics Commission complaint without admitting wrongdoing?
Comments on this blog indicate that the State Republican party shares many of the same ideas as those advocated for or www.moderate-ri.org. Does the fact that moderate-ri.org is a non-conservative effort preclude some conservatives from advocating on this web site for changes that they believe in?
A most interesting and disturbing comment entered on the web site deserves a verbatim quotation:

If given a choice between supporting a bunch of Chafee pigs who no longer want to be identified as Republican or supporting Madison, I’ll take the Founder every time. Much like OCG, RISC, the other group calling itself RISC, CFRI or the Education Partnership, everyone can already see right through you. In short, you’re already a joke.
This guy really seems to care about something, but I’ll be damned if I know what (mangled quote credit to Rodney Dangerfield). He is really angry about Chafee, and I’m guessing by extension my effort since the word “moderate” is in the mix. What confuses me is where does this guy stand on what is broken in our government. Is he for buying one’s way out of an ethics charge or rolling back separation of powers?
I would not be surprised to learn that most participants and readers of this blog will think that the Democratic majority in the legislature is not adequately representing the beliefs and values of the majority of Rhode Islanders (they most certainly are not in many of the issues which come before them). Hard proof of this lies in the uncompleted separation of powers. Does Chafee really deserve to be pilloried for voting on issues in a way which he felt best represented (and in my opinion did best represent) the values of the majority of those who voted him into office? Who is guilty of worse governance offenses, Chafee or the Democrats in the legislature?
All ridiculous culture war issues aside, the time is right now for those who believe that what ails Rhode Island can and should be fixed. There are many disparate groups which have overlapping goals, and the need is critical right now to ignore ideological differences, pool resources and advocate together for specific changes that should be palatable to all. My strong suggestion is to push all out on separation of powers, disallowing one time payouts to be used to balance the budget and disallowing the settling of ethics charges by paying off the Ethics Commission. These ideas have popular appeal and immediate relevance.
I urge readers of this site, if you agree with any of my positions, to please lend your voice to advocate for change in the State House. You do not have to agree with all of the issues, and you certainly can advocate strongly against the idea of a Moderate Party if that is your thing. The overriding goal is to make change happen to help put our legislature back on an even keel.

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Ken Block
Ken Block
13 years ago

This topic deserves to be re-raised. I am astonished that not one person had a comment on this, positive or negative.
Conservatives cannot effect change without appealing to a broader coalition of voters, and frankly, the broader coalition of voters needs the conservative bloc to fix what it broken with our state.

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