Meeting Candidates You’ve Met
Hey, is it just me or is Rhode Island a difficult place to find your way around? I don’t think I’ve ever seen, before, the letters used on exit numbers (6A and 6) when the roads are entirely different. But I’ve made it to the Elks in West Greenwich for the Rhode Island Voter Coalition Meet the Candidates forum. If I’d known they’d have free pizza, I wouldn’t have eaten on the way over.
The event was slated to begin at 6:00, and it’s 6:18, but I only see two of the four advertised candidates/politicians; AG candidate Erik Wallin and Congressional candidate Mark Zaccaria are here, but State Representative Joe Trillo and state House candidate Moe Green, from Providence, are not. About 30 folks are in the audience, not all of whom do I know.
I suppose it’d be fair to say that there are tiers of events in the center-right reform milieu, but it’s disappointing not to see more of the folks who make it to higher-profile happenings. Yeah, it’s Friday night. Yeah, you know the candidates. Yeah, the event is scheduled for a daunting four hours. But there are new people, here, and the degree to which they’ll continue to be involved and to tell their friends to become involved is surely proportional to the attendance and especially the apparent interest of allies whom they hear on the radio and see on television.
Are we trying to build a movement, here, or a loose social club?
Coming up on 7:00, the crowd has grown to about 40 people. Joe Trillo is here. I overheard Dave Talan explaining that Moe Green was called in to work. (He’s a detective in Providence). The speeches and Q&A have yet to start, though. It looks like I would have had time to go home, after work, after all… and avoid that ridiculous $4 fee for the Newport Bridge.
By the way, Terry Gorman and the RIILE crew is here. RISC is represented in a behind-the-scenes way. It looks like the guys at We the People of Rhode Island are handling audio/video. (Yet another site that I have to make a point of visiting more often.)
Joe Trillo’s speaking: “The biggest problem with the state right now is the unions.”
Trillo lambasted the political-cultural set that attends events like last night’s RIPEC meeting: “I’m sick and tired of hearing how we’re business unfriendly,” but do nothing.
Trillo: “The most important thing you can do is support” candidates.
And with that, one candidate takes the podium: Mark Zaccaria, whose first statement was one of encouragement about the number of grassroots groups that are emerging. I agree, but I’ll be even more encouraged when they figure out how to work together.
Zaccaria’s slogan: “Clean house.” As in: “if your representatives are supporting some group other than, you hired them, you can fire them. Clean house.”
Sorry, but I had to laugh (in a snorting way) when Erik Wallin opened his speech by mentioning the great things about Rhode Island, starting with: “We have wonderful, hard-working people who have made the state what it is.” Perhaps that statement can be taken in multiple ways.
Incidentally, I notice that rumored gubernatorial candidate Rory Smith is here.
Dave Talan, Moe Green’s campaign manager has clarified that he isn’t Moe Green, and “the real Moe Green” is not the sleazy casino owner who meets a bad end in the Godfather movie.
Green’s number 1 issue is taxation, and as you may already know, he readily signed Grover Norquist’s pledge not to vote for tax increases. He’s also going to work against unfunded mandates.
Moe Green is for education vouchers.
During Q&A, Zaccaria stated that he’s running for Congress to make laws go away, not to enact more of them.
Trillo has taken the microphone to say that he has decided against a run for governor and put Rory Smith in the spotlight and request that he introduce himself. He’s never spoken in front of a political group before, and he’s not prepared for a speech, so he’s giving some personal background.
He’s humbled at the fact that politics requires the help of others, “and when they offer it, it’s like the grace of God.”
A man who appears to be somehow closely affiliated with the event declared himself a Ron Paul Republican. Neo-conservatives apparently don’t believe in the sovereignty of this country. Zaccaria played the hand well by speaking against labels and dismissing people whose support will be needed to win an election. He described some narrow terms of action and placed himself in the same camp as Paul.
Next question strongly implied disapproval of NAFTA. Oddly enough, it’s possible that I’m to the left of the room (in physical location and ideology).
Summary of various questions and answers: Zaccaria’s conservative on just about everything, but then the wall: somebody asked about abortion. Making it illegal would cause three things:
- Drive it underground
- Would create two class, because some could fly to countries with more liberal laws.
- Would condemn people in the second category to dangerous procedures
But then the utter confusion: He declared that life begins at conception, and abortion is the taking of a life. He then said that we must “make government get people to choose life” by — get this — replicating the stop smoking effort.
Only because I very much dislike asking questions at these things did I resist the urge to ask whether Zaccaria believes the government should kill a greater number of criminals until such time as we’re able to stop crime via the culture (by means of the government, no less).
I’m really not sure what to make of that answer. We should maintain the right to take innocent human life until we find away to increase the breadth of the government in such a way as to change the culture to eliminate abortion as we’ve “eliminated” smoking. Ugh. Horrible, horrible answer.
After a speech that’ll be worth watching on our YouTube channel, an audience member (former Democrat trying to “make up” for what he did in that capacity”) asked Trillo about gaming. The answer: We’re addicted to it, so hey, we might as well go full out and get the voters to act on it.
Trillo’s gone on to talk about mandates, but I have to admit that I’m stuck on Zaccaria’s answer. Perhaps a better hypothetical would be making gang-on-gang violence legal. If we can keep them from killing innocent people, it would ultimately save lives (compared with those unsafe back-room drivebys), and the government could pursue an anti-smoking-like campaign against gang violence.
But now that I think about it, perhaps there’s something to the anti-smoking thing. The government could get abortion providers to admit that they know that their service kills people and then force them to advertise against it.
Did I already say “ugh”?
Coincidentally, Erik Wallin was speaking against gang violence as I typed. He’s now facing a question in favor of making drugs legal.
Wallin is against the legalization of drugs. “I’ve seen first-hand what drugs do to individuals” “People who are addicted to drugs are going to commit crimes in order to get those drugs.”
On marijuana: “We should not be presenting more opportunities for young people to take drugs.” He makes the point that the assumption that kids will have a harder time getting pot if it’s legal is incorrect on the grounds that kids can get alcohol freely enough.
Personally, I think it ought to be a states-rights issue, and I think the illegality should not involve prison time for users, but I do think drugs should remain illegal, although I’d cede pot.
I should note that this event has turned out to be very good. Some very strong points (and certainly passion) from the audience and the politicians. All candidates should be called on to participate in these things regularly, and all citizens should be pressured to attend.
Representative Trillo just came over to me to clarify his position on the governor’s race (somehow he’s already heard what I wrote above): He is not withdrawing entirely the possibility that he’ll run; he’s waiting to see if somebody acceptable emerges, but if nobody steps forward whom he’s comfortable endorsing, he will run.
Some of the more, well, libertarian audience members seem a little incredulous that the attorney general would apply healthcare mandate laws duly passed by the legislature. Here we see, again, the peculiar circumstance of libertarians’ wishing to dictate policies (in like manner to progressives/liberals) by wholly unconstitutional means… in the name of the Constitution.
Great point from Wallin: “I’m running as a Republican, but I am independent” when it comes to the execution of his responsibilities as attorney general.
Terry Gorman ran through the high-nineties percentages with which our Congressional delegates vote along party lines (100% for Langevin) and asked Zaccaria whether he’d do the same. Easy answer… of course not.
On a personal note, I could put my head down and go to sleep on the table.
On the topic of immigration and the amount that hospitals are required to give to them (down to free cough medicine), Trillo noted a House Democrat who makes the argument that illegal immigrants wash all the dishes in restaurants such as that Democrat’s family owns, and were that not allowed, the restaurants would not be able to stay in business.
Interesting juxtaposition… perhaps we should learn from the hospitals’ conundrum in handling restaurants: Make them provide food to hungry patrons who cannot afford to pay. I mean, how can a moral society refuse food to starving children?