Fox in the Hen House
I had to switch to music halfway through my commute home, on Friday, because Dan Yorke had Rep. Tim Williamson (D, Coventry, West Warwick) on his show, and my feet were beginning to stick to the pedals from the slime that was seeping from the speakers. A woman called in to challenge Williamson’s assertion that he and his peers have done a good job, and the representative slipped into politico-lawyer talk. He let her make the concise message that she was clearly intent on delivering and, at first opportunity, chastised her for interrupting his reply (always note when such folks deploy the sentence, “I didn’t interrupt you, did I?”). He then embarked on a rambling spiel raising barely relevant facts, contesting the fact that Rhode Island is really in much trouble at all, and allocating blame everywhere but where it belongs, with the General Assembly.
A quick example: When Dan suggested that the roads bore testament to Rhode Island’s problems, Williamson threw out some numbers and explained the reason as dramatic underfunding. Of course, it’s the General Assembly that has allocated money that ought to go to infrastructure to everything but, then relying on the trick of floating bonds for the necessities that the body has underfunded.
I raise Williamson’s performance from obscurity (Dan hasn’t posted the Podcast) because we’re beginning to see evidence that nothing short of an extremely unlikely wholesale change in the legislature will be adequate, in the coming election. We’ve been asking, Don’t these people see that there won’t be a miracle salvation of Rhode Island’s status quo? Maybe they do, maybe they don’t, but the salient point is that they just don’t care. Whatever the consequence to the legislators’ constituents — be they voters or government-dependents or public-sector workers — they, the politicians, will survive, perhaps thrive. Williamson’s attitude was the arrogance of the untouchable.
The various news reports and profile pieces published upon Gordon Fox’s ascension to House Speaker solidified my conviction that the General Assembly as currently constituted has no intention of making the difficult decisions that will enable the rest of us to pull the state from the tortuous waters in which it is — we are — languishing. How could you conclude otherwise (emphasis added)?
“A Fox speakership will invariably include, but not be limited to, an increase in the state income tax, a lack of constitutionally sound state limitations on illegal immigration, an economic development policy overly influenced by environmental extremists, and of course … gay marriage,” wrote [Rep. Arthur Corvese (D, North Providence)], who has been replaced [as chairman of the House Labor Committee] by Rep. Anastasia Williams, an unpaid member of the AFL-CIO board of directors. “I believe your philosophical stance on major issues is too far to the left for the good of the citizens of the State of Rhode Island.”
According to the brief biography presented in the Providence Journal, Fox came of age and built his career as a lawyer while under the wing of the state’s power brokers, solidifying his place by choosing back-room deals over his left-wing ideology. We should be discomfited that the state house’s progressives support him, of course, but we should be more concerned that his election to the top post signals a retrenchment of the forces that have brought Rhode Island so low.
And I don’t see anywhere near the level of targeted angst and anxiety that would indicate that the people of Rhode Island are about to upset the designs of the political class.