Joe Amaral: A Test Case for the “Laffey Lesson”?
During the commute home tonight (having worked some necessary overtime), I heard State Representative Joe Amaral — my representative — attempting to explain to Dan Yorke why he is the lone Republican in the House not promising to forgo the rub’n’tug grant system. His arguments were mostly about process and equity from town to town, but given his explanations about alternatives to rub’n’tug that he would support, I really don’t think he gets what the General Assembly is doing wrong in the broader analysis.
It was edifying, of course, to hear Mr. Amaral extrapolate my neighborhood to his entire constituency. I imagine the rest of Tiverton (wealthier) and Portsmouth (wealthier, too), being not so “poor” (his word), wouldn’t been as amenable a face to put on his argument that we need a few thousand dollars a year in legislative grants. I don’t happen to be Portuguese (which is a feature that my representative emphasizes when characterizing his district), but I do work hard. I’m not wealthy. And I see that this entire rub’n’tug legislative regime is killing precisely the demographic for which Mr. Amaral is concerned.
Given the above, it seems to me that Mr. Amaral might be a good test case for what I’ve called the “Laffey Lesson,” the central premise of which is that saving our state might require some creative destruction. We might have to knock down the Republican Party some in order to hone it to the edge that it has got to develop. And if the party isn’t going to prove able to pull the state from the precipice, then perhaps it’s best that its name not be associated with anything but precisely the chronic “no” of which Mr. Amaral complains with respect to his fellow RIGOP members (with whom he does not caucus).
Perhaps I should consider running for Mr. Amaral’s seat next time around. How do you think I’d do, Joe? I very much doubt that I could win, but perhaps I could peel away enough of your votes to let a Whitehousian Democrat slip by. It might be that other conservative Republicans in the state would see the race as an opportunity to send a message to their own representatives.
Whatever the case, I’d suggest to Representative Amaral that keeping the rub’n’tug grants might come at more of a cost than giving them up. The question he’ll have to answer for himself is whether he’s more afraid of the wrath of those who benefit from the change that the General Assembly throws on the cobblestones or the wrath of those who understand how corrosive that charity system is to our entire state government.