The Block Block, Continued
“Very recent history has shown that the GOP has been horrible at supporting candidates for local office,” [Mr. Block] said.Though Mr. Block made no direct mention of social issues in his EC, they seem integral to his motivation for trying to create a new party, so I asked him about his statements in the Herald piece…
But an interview with Block reveals his reasons are more deep-seated than that. Despite the Barrington resident’s fiscally conservative streak, which may be fueled by the fact that he owns a software company (Simpatico) in Warwick, lies a socially liberal mindset.
Block said the fact that prominent national Republicans such as President George W. Bush advocate and some Bible belt states actually teach creationism as scientific theories in public schools makes him shudder. Block is also pro-choice.
“There isn’t one thing I find palatable on their social platform,” said Block.
“The national GOP doesn’t have as big of a tent as they want everyone to believe and I don’t think it’s big enough for me. Their tent is only large if you’re a social conservative, and in this state, that’s simply not going to fly.”
Block admits that the state GOP tries to focus on local, fiscal issues, but outside of that, has taken no steps to distance itself from the national GOP.
Ken Block: The idea behind this party is that two people, one of whom is pro life, the other pro choice, can agree to subordinate the abortion issue while advocating together to address the most pressing issues facing the state (in our opinion fiscal and ethical).
Every member of this party will have his or her own, possibly strongly felt, positions on the social issues of our day. My personal stances on the different social issues will not be reflected in the platform of the party, as the party is not about those issues. When a particular issue divides the country roughly down the middle (i.e. abortion), the party will alienate half the population by taking a stand on that issue, which defeats the overall mission of trying to balance out the legislature now and fix the economic mess killing our state.
Anchor Rising: If you are only focusing on one issue area (albeit a large one), why take on the overhead of a full-fledged political party? Why not, for example, go the route of an OCG-like organization for fiscal issues?
KB: The idea of the Moderate Party of Rhode Island arose because for years the State GOP has failed to win enough seats to matter in the State House and the State Democrats have been legislating poorly because they have not had to fear serious opposition in the voting booth. Our theory is that voters in this state do not identify with the National GOP brand of social conservatism and that the State GOP has inherited that brand. RI is in a mess simply because we do not have a balance of power in the State House. If the State GOP does not have a message that resonates with the majority of RI voters and therefore yields a small minority of legislative seats then a new party must be formed which can fill the void and attempt to provide balance in the legislature.
An OCG-like organization would not accomplish the goal of a balanced legislature. Legislative seats must be won from the super-majority of the Democrats, and the only way to do that is provide viable candidates with an overall message and platform that will appeal to the majority of voters in this state.
Anchor Rising: If 2 candidates in a district both endorsed the Moderate Party platform, do you envision an Moderate party that would then look to stands on social issues to determine which one to support?
KB: If only we had a district where both candidates would embrace our platform!! In this case, if we were dealing with an incumbent we would look at that person’s voting record to determine if their voting history is in line with our platform. Otherwise, we would look for the candidate who would best be able to forge consensus to accomplish our overall objectives. Jon Scott’s comments about not wanting the Democrats to pass legislation that he has in his back pocket for November is exactly the kind of activity that makes me cringe. Trick them, fool them, make them think that they came up with the idea themselves…who cares. Just get the Democrats to pass necessary legislation now. That is what effective governing is all about, especially when trying to govern as an extreme minority.