Move Left for Lefties, Right for Righties

So, yeah, it’s the nature of politics that candidates move as far toward the ideology of a given audience as they think they can get away with, which increases the appearance of their agreement. Still, there are two additional — and worrisome — factors at play when the Providence Journal can describe the performance of six candidates for governor at a progressive event:

On many fronts, there were more similarities than differences among the slate of candidates that included two Democrats, two Republicans, a Moderate and an independent.

The first factor is that the candidates are, in fact, too close to each other, politically. At least, it can be said that so many things are considered to be relevant to government, at this point in our state and country history, that there’s always plenty of room to emphasize agreement. As an exception that proves the rule, consider this odd moment:

Republicans Victor G. Moffitt and John Robitaille were not asked about their positions on sex education or abortion, although both have described themselves as antiabortion.

I don’t know whose decision it was not to ask the two Republicans those questions, but it can’t be healthy. Either they didn’t want to say or the event hosts didn’t want their audience to have to hear something with which they disagreed.
The second factor is that the political tracks are too well worn, especially in Rhode Island. The candidates know what they’re supposed to say to whom, and for the most part, the various constituencies are content to hear it. And there we go. Business as usual continues. How else to interpret this from Robitaille?

Robitaille, Governor Carcieri’s former communications director, went the furthest when he endorsed the creation of a task force to improve the state’s cash-assistance program, known as welfare.
“I don’t think throwing more money at a problem is going to solve it,” he said. “I’m not talking about cutting programs. I’m talking about making them better.”

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Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
11 years ago

Sounds like a variation of the we’ll go after “waste, fraud and abuse” fraud that politicians use to pander while avoiding making real decisions.
What Rhode Island really needs is for a candidate to support realigning RI’s welfare benefits with federal minimums so that the state stop serving as New England’s welfare magnet.
No this isn’t heartless. Obviously federal minimums are plenty sufficient, since in not one of the 50 states are we witnessing mass hunger or homelessness.

John Robitaille
John Robitaille
11 years ago

I am disappointed that you would assume the Projo would do justice to my comments at the forum. I told the audience that our entire welfare program was a failure. We have lost the “war on poverty.” I clearly said that I would only support programs that could prove positive outcomes. We spend $2Billion on social services in RI. There is no more money, but I would support looking at ways to do more with less.
I do believe we have an obligation to help people who fall on hard times, but only for limited periods of time with programs that lead people back to independence. I believe Reagan called that “compassionate conservatism.”
The questions were “random” and only 2 or 3 candidates were given opportunities to respond to particular questions.
I was fully prepared to state again publically that I am pro-life, believe marriage is between a man and a woman and that sex education is the responsibility of the parents.
I do not pander to audiences. I had the guts to attend this forum and tell it like it is. Please do not assume otherwise.

11 years ago

Justin, were you there? Or anybody from AR? I don’t recall seeing any representatives there.
If not, you’re regurgitating second-hand info from the ProJo, which is very disappointing. I hold this blog to higher standards than that. Then again, a blog is op-ed, so you’re technically not held to any standards whatsoever. Very disappointing.

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