Perhaps There Should Be a Pal Party
I take it that Monique is responding to later segments of Dan Yorke’s Thursday interview with Warwick’s Republican mayor, Scott Avedisian (audio here). This is the very first exchange in the interview:
Dan Yorke: What is your position on the governor’s race, what are you going to be doing with your friend, Linc Chafee, and talk to me about your support for him.
Scott Avedisian: Obviously, Linc Chafee and I have been friends for — I’m 44 — so probably thirty years, when I went to first work for his father. When I was in high school, I moved to Washington to work for John Chafee. Linc went on the City Council; I followed him onto the council. He went into the mayor’s office; I followed him into the mayor’s office, when he went on to the Senate. So, we have thirty years worth of political history together. He is a good friend of mine, and I think it would be difficult to walk away from someone you’ve been friends with for thirty years.
DY: Alright, got that. So, what does that mean? What role will you play? Let me ask you this: Do you endorse him for governor?
SA: He has not asked me to play any role. I would go to an event for him, and I would help him as best I could, but he hasn’t asked me to do anything more than that.
DY: Are you actively supporting Linc Chafee to be the next governor of the state of Rhode Island?
SA: I would vote for him, and he hasn’t asked me to do anything, so I’m not actively doing anything.
DY: When asked if you will support the nominee of the Republican Party for governor, your answer will be, then, “no,” correct?
SA: I don’t know who the nominee will be. One of the things that’s interesting is that there may not be a reason to have a closed primary at all.
DY: Well, I didn’t get to that part, yet. Whoever ends up becoming the Republican nominee for governor will not get the support of the top Republican municipal elected official in the state, because he is pledged to support Linc Chafee the independent, correct?
SA: That’s correct.
Friendship’s an important thing, but politics are supposed to be about governance, and political parties are supposed to stand for something, not just be collections of arbitrary teams. Those who advocate for open primaries (I’m ambivalent, so far) and would lash out against the suggestion that Avedisian should stop calling himself a Republican need to answer the question of what they believe the Republican Party should be. Should its message be that its label and organizational structure are available for anybody in the state, whatever their beliefs, whatever their affiliations, and whatever their willingness to support the party? That reduces the the Republican “R” to only a slightly narrower version of the unaffiliated “I.”
It’s one thing for an individual voter to choose a particular candidate while in the voting booth. It’s one thing for registered Republicans to advocate against candidates within their party with whom they disagree. But as an elected official, Mayor Avedisian owes his job, at least in part, to his political affiliation; if that were not the case, then he’d have no reason to keep the “R” after his name on the ballot.
At this point, it is indisputable that Avedisian would more appropriately be seen as a member of the Chafee Party, and as long as he continues to call himself a Republican, his honesty is a matter of dispute.
Let me add, here, that the obviousness of this point may be obscured by The Rhode Island Way. To Rhode Islanders, personal associations supersede everything in all contexts. In other words, Avedisian’s unqualified support for his friend in a political race, no matter what his own political party may do or may need him to do, is of the same category as the corrupt old-boy system that is dragging Rhode Island back to pre-modern forms of government.