The Common Purpose of Agreement with the Aristocrat
Sitting next to Kate Coyne-McCoy, who is regional director of the pro-abortion advocacy group Emily’s List, for the WRNI Political Roundtable that airs today, I saw first-hand just how thrilled the far left is with the election of Governor Lincoln Chafee. (Listen around 6:40 a.m. and 7:40 a.m. on 102.7 FM/1290 AM and online later here.) Indeed, the only thing that thrilled Coyne-McCoy more was the success of now-General Treasurer Gina Raimondo. (Think on that those of you who thought you’d give her a chance.)
The conversation began on the topic of Chafee’s inaugural call for “coming together,” and the quotation that the Providence Journal prints here:
Laying out his vision for the next four years, he asked “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.”
I made the elementary point that politics is the art of dealing with division, so Chafee’s vision is built around a non sequitur. What a “common purpose” means in that context is for the opposition just to drop those topics on which Chafee knows himself to be decisively correct, whatever large numbers of his fellow Rhode Islanders may think. Civility becomes his willingness to walk away from an argument.
Unfortunately, his past behavior proves Chafee to be a guy who sees astonished reactions among his ideological opponents as evidence of his own fortitude, and the love of his agenda among mainstream media types is so strong that he’ll get away with governing from fantasy land, at least for a while. This is a guy whose economic development plan appears to be to implement same-sex marriage, open the door to illegal immigrants (and push for amnesty, nationally), impose a tax increase on currently tax-free goods and services, insult prominent entrepreneurs, and threaten economic development officials with personal liability if their investments go wrong. He proclaims openness and “coming together” while declining to meet with the local leaders of issue-by-issue opposition. And he gets away with it.
Earlier this week, Monique noted Pawtucket Times columnist Jim Baron’s suggestion that Chafee should throw his arm around Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, in part to “shut up” folks (like me) who see the unions behind Chafee’s door. It will be interesting to see whether and how Baron reacts when Chafee does no such thing — when he marches right along with his political assumptions, contrary evidence be damned.
Will those who tingle at the elevation of Linc Chafee adjust their views when Rhode Island further deteriorates politically and economically, or will they find somebody else to blame? (Remembering that the General Assembly already gets a pass.)