And so it begins
I will not rest until we reclaim the promise that lay in the heart of our founder Roger Williams some 375 years ago….Today, I ask all Rhode Islanders to join me in boldly reaffirming Roger Williams’ vision of a “civil state” … a vibrant, diverse community that is free of political, cultural and ethnic division. For if we rekindle the vision that created our heritage, there is nothing this state and her people cannot achieve.
Here and throughout the speech, the Governor utilized Roger Williams in an all-too common way: he called upon Williams’ “tolerance” for use in a way that he, Governor Chafee, chose to define.
[Williams] instantly made this the most democratic place in America, simply by welcoming other dissenters, and by creating a new form of government that valued tolerance and consensus over orthodoxy and compulsion….he set a lasting precedent for mutual respect… the very foundation of any civil society.
In his words, Rhode Island was like a ship of state, with many different types of passengers, free to worship and think as they pleased, but obligated to work to defend the ship from danger, and to follow a correct course to the right destination.
Who defines “tolerance and consensus” as opposed to “orthodoxy and compulsion”? And “mutual respect”? Explain to me how that squares with Governor Chafee’s non-meetings with those he opposes? Finally, we are “free” but “obligated” to “follow a correct course to the right destination.” A course to where and set by whom? The answer: one set by our aristocratic new Governor and his administration. Always remember, they know what is best for us and we’d better get used to it.
Last November, we showed the nation what a civil state can mean. Angel Tavares was elected mayor of Providence. David Cicilline was elected to Congress, and Jim Langevin was re-elected. Each of these men have been bold pioneers in their own way, and are testimony to the open minds and hearts of Rhode Islanders.
Thank you for this vote of confidence; and most importantly thank you for your vote to embrace tolerance and individual freedom.
Does that last mean that those who voted against the individuals named by Governor Chafee don’t embrace tolerance and individual freedom? Isn’t it the height of New England WASP condescension to boil the aforementioned candidates down to the demographic group they represent as opposed to the political positions they stand for? Yet, the Governor doesn’t see it that way–and those mentioned may not either. But he’s reduced their political careers to tokenism.
Our present condition has not developed overnight. It has been decades in the making and it is the shared legacy of Democrats and Republicans, business and labor, liberals and conservatives. Finger pointing and blame will do nothing to alleviate our situation.
In every segment of our society, we have tolerated something that Roger Williams did not – a refusal to do the work necessary to correct our course, and an acceptance of a fractious society that emphasizes division over common purpose.
Sorry, don’t mean to finger-point, but 70 years of a Democratic, union-run state sure seems to significantly shift the the weight of the blame to one particular, shall we say, coalition. Further, here’s a hint, Governor Chafee: the same group has benefited massively from “a refusal to do the work necessary”, “a fractious society” and “emphasiz[ing] division over common purpose.” There is no common purpose but that which benefits them or their tribe.
Governor Chafee also announced that he’d rescind the E-verify executive order (though he seems to misunderstand what it really is) and will push to pass gay-marriage legislation.
Rhode Island today must be as welcoming to all as Roger Williams intended it to be. Mark my words, these two actions will do more for economic growth in our state that any economic development loan.
Because good business is about treating people right, just as good government is.
Yes, I’m sure Roger Williams would have been a strong proponent of gay marriage and opposed to e-verify. Please. This is what I mean by Chafee using Roger Williams in an all-too common, anachronistic way: these concepts wouldn’t have even entered Williams’ 17th century mind. Our new Governor also implies that e-verify and gay marriage will help in building the RI economy more than, say, lower taxes:
…a civil state means that responsibility flows in both directions. As citizens, Rhode Islanders deserve honest, reliable government – but as users of services taxpayers must give government the resources to do its job well.
Define “well” again? I believe most tax-paying Rhode Islanders feel as if they’ve given plenty of their tax dollars for a government that hasn’t been run well at all. Tell you what, Governor–give us a well-run government for the taxes we’re paying now and then talk to us about paying more. Remember, you’ve still got 65% of the electorate who didn’t buy what you’re selling. So while you’ve outlined all sorts of concepts about what a “civil” government means, how about just giving us one that spends less, wiser.
I’m not holding my breath.