Are We Right or Should We Be Left?
Concise and clear as it is, Matt Jerzyk’s Providence Monthly piece (PDF) brings into relief an inconsistency in the narrative of the local left:
Conservatives are quick to blame the majority Democratic General Assembly for most of Rhode Island’s ills, but that’s not fair or accurate. First, many of the so-called Democrats in the General Assembly are DINOs (Democrats in Name Only). These DINOs support tax breaks for the rich, oppose women’s rights and gay rights and gang up on immigrants and the poor. In other words, they would be Republicans if they could win an election under that party banner.
And yet, with reference to Republicans’ dislike of Linc Chafee:
Of course, the irony of this tale is that Republicans historically maintained a power base in New England because of their social liberalism, not in spite of it. The fringe elements of the GOP who are casting out the moderate Republicans might as well be conducting a circular firing squad.
So, Democrats win in Rhode Island as conservatives, but Republicans don’t win because they’re not liberal? The inconsistency, here, needn’t be Matt’s; it could originate with voters. Personally, I’d dispute the notion that a decisive number of RI Democrats are very conservative, and I’d point out that conservative Republicans are decisive within their party. We have as much right not to vote for liberal (read, “moderate”) Republicans as liberals have not to vote for conservative ones — point being that the question of whether conservative Republicans can win is open, even dubious, given our two-term governor, but it’s more clear that liberal Republicans can not win, given the current electorate. There’s no objective reason that conservatives must be the ones to compromise their values.
Whoever’s inconsistency it is, Matt’s reference to it does highlight that “Rhode Island’s ills” aren’t a result of those vague liberal shibboleths about “women’s rights and gay rights” and affinity for “immigrants and the poor.” Leftists are free to lament the state of social affairs, but it’s difficult to link any of those issues to our economic stagnation from a left-wing perspective. (We on the right would argue that policies pertaining to immigrants and the poor are certainly contributors from ours.)
Frankly, the left/right divide is less useful, in assessing our state’s frightening direction, than is the special interest/taxpayer battle, and it doesn’t take much imagination to understand why those special interests would like the electorate to keep their eye on political distractions rather than concentrate on political reform.