Re: Picking Up the Pieces

To be blunt, I think Patrick’s analysis relies too heavily on one of the two clichés about Rhode Island politics that ought to be discarded.
Last night wasn’t the RIGOP’s fault, in any institutional way. It isn’t some strategic error that’s led to the party’s status. It’s the society in which the RIGOP has to operate.
Very closely related is the second cliché, touched on here by Ted Nesi in an analysis of last night’s results:

The results seem to be another sign of how toxic the Republican brand has become in Rhode Island as the party has moved to the right nationally. The fierce conservatism of the GOP’s leading voices – Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Michele Bachmann – hasn’t resonated with a majority of voters in Rhode Island (or Massachusetts); Obama is on track to match his 63% Rhode Island vote share from 2008 despite all that’s transpired since.

Consider that paragraph in the light of his suggestion, Saturday, that RI Republicans need to invest in a departure from social conservatism. Ryan, McConnell, and Bachmann — especially Ryan — aren’t the poster children for social conservatism. They’re generally conservative across the board, yes, but that’s not what Rhode Island Democrats are leveraging as a bogeyman.
Sure, scaring people about social conservatism remains a well-worn weapon in the Democrats’ arsenal, but it is far from the biggest. If you take a frank look at the rhetoric at every level of campaigning, you see that it was fiscal conservatism — that of explaining how the numbers don’t work and seeking to get out in front of the entitlement collapse, for example. Paul Ryan isn’t a conservative hero based on fiery rhetoric about abortion or marriage. He’s a hero for his chart-laden videos about entitlement reform and cutting analysis of ObamaCare.
And then look at non-candidate results. Personally, I found the most disheartening state-level results to be the debt that voters approved. Oh, I fully expected all or most of the bonds to pass, but consider the margins: 66%, 77%, 74%, 70%, 62%. This is the Rhode Island electorate treating it as a no-brainer to handle infrastructure projects in a way that makes it roughly 50% more expensive. This is Rhode Island green-lighting the continued use of the General Fund for discretionary spending while the state borrows for the basics.
Say what you will about the individual proposals, but this does not indicate high demand for fiscal conservatism. (And I don’t see any evidence that social liberalism boosts Republican results.) Now ask yourself this: If same-sex marriage had been on the ballot, how would it have compared? It may or may not have won, but if it had, does anybody think it would have been by 70-something percent? Its advocates’ aversion to putting it on the ballot suggests not.
That brings us back to Patrick’s post. Having watched a political farm team grow in Tiverton, the stresses of this election taught a stark lesson. When you’re the advocate for sustainable economic policies founded in individual self-reliance and community action outside of government, being inside government is very, very difficult. It’s a constant fight against the political opposition and a constant strain among friends who disagree about what battles to pick and what compromises to make.
Increasingly, the Democrats here range from those who want to expand government for ideological reasons to those who want to be part of the ruling class and are willing to follow the formula. There will be no farm team for Republicans because Republicans don’t tend to love the operation of government that much; they don’t tend to want to rule much less be rope-pulling participants in the class that does.
So what’s the solution? Well, on an individual level, it’s to brace against the gathering storm, which in large part will entail reprioritizing our lives. On the social level, last night may have proven that we have to go a step further back, even, than political offices, to small-scope education, almost on the scale of person-to-person conversations, and a concerted effort to increase the number of people who see what we see.

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jgardner
jgardner
9 years ago

“This is Rhode Island green-lighting the continued use of the General Fund for discretionary spending while the state borrows for the basics.”
No truer a statement has been made

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

“So what’s the solution?”
Move out. Your families deserve better than what they will inherit by staying to fight an unwinnable battle against the tide of apathy and corruption. Not all the states are so far gone.

Mario
Mario
9 years ago

This is largely what I’ve been thinking. Republicans didn’t screw up, the state is just broken. When the people are willing to support hundreds of millions of dollars of random spending about which you know they know nothing by larger margins than they supported Obama, even though they should have been hearing for years that the state is nearly bankrupt, it points to a more fundamental fault with the electorate than a distaste for conservative social policy.
I think I am just going to give up. Newport Grand will go under, right? It can’t possibly survive under the new conditions. West Warwick will go bankrupt. The state will go bankrupt. Without the deus ex machina of a Federal bailout, I don’t see how any of it can be avoided.
I wanted to build a shelf today, but I refuse to buy the materials, because I don’t want the state to get the sales tax revenue. I’m done.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Mario – Virginia has 5.9% unemployment, a 4% sales tax, and has been ranked #1 for business for the past two years. Great (non-union) public schools, low corruption, and high household incomes. You have the right idea of it, just go the next step and move. Don’t let progressive RI Democrats take your money and feed it back into the failed system to perpetuate itself and reward bums and insiders. The only vote you have that will ever matter is by voting with your feet.

Will
9 years ago

Hi from Virginia… ditto to everything Dan just said. Rhode Island isn’t going to get better, because deep down, it doesn’t want to. Inferiority complex? Who knows. Rhode Island is systematically corrupt, and no amount of effort will ever change it. Hard to accept, but it’s more in keeping with reality. It just likes being last (meaning, a majority of its population). Unless you do too, try to leave for pretty much anywhere else if you’re in that position. NH isn’t too far away.

JohnD
John(@disqus_cihud2gmi1)
9 years ago

So glad both my sons live in Virginia!

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

“Last night wasn’t the RIGOP’s fault, in any institutional way. It isn’t some strategic error that’s led to the party’s status. It’s the society in which the RIGOP has to operate.”
Did I just read that right? The RIGOP’s problem is that it’s antisocial? So true, Justin. It’s hard to believe the “vote for us, you morons and moochers, or we’ll move” strategy didn’t pan out again this year.

Justin Katz
Justin Katz(@justin)
9 years ago

Enjoy the government that you’ve gotten, Russ.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

Oh, and wahoowa! to the folks in VA.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Russ – You and the RIFuture crowd OWN it now. You own all of it. You have a left-wing governor elected by the unions, a progressive Speaker of the House, a progressive Congressman, an even more progressive/Democratic legislature than it already was. Virtually all of the RIFuture-endorsed candidates won their races. All spending initiatives were overwhelmingly approved. The EDC has been restocked and will continue pumping out the loans, consistent with progressive economic policy. RIGOP is a distant blip on the radar. This is as good as it gets for you. Go run with it and have a good time!
The only outstanding question is whether you progressives will now take responsibility when four years later nothing has changed and the state is still stagnating with poor education, high costs, and high unemployment, which everyone here knows it will be. We both know that you won’t accept that responsibility. With Carcieri a distant memory now, I just can’t wait to see what manufactured bogeyman you folks will come up with next as a scapegoat for all of your failed policies.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

Enjoy it? Hardly, I’m working to change it.
btw, Virginia is by far the largest recipient of federal defense spending, more than 10 times per capita what’s spent in RI. Add in DC and it’s even more than that. In any case, it’s not the posterchild for small government as you folks seem to like to pretend. Quite the contrary.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

I own the state’s education policy? Come on, Dan. You know quite well I don’t agree with the direction that’s going.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

That’s the unfortunate thing about voting for bad people as a means to achieving noble ends, Russ. The flaw of progressive politics isn’t any flaw with the egalitarian Utopia they envision for the state. The flaw is that you never actually get there, and along the way you vote in every identity-politics, dependency-culture crook and opportunist who talks a good game about helping the poor and the workers but ends up only serving themselves. The point is that virtually all of the RIFuture-endorsed candidates won this time around, the evil RIGOP has been vanquished to the ends of the earth, and progressives hold significant positions of power in the state. So if your “guys” fail to perform as you want them to over the next four years, it will be you largely responsibile for empowering such people.

observer
observer
9 years ago

This may be the first and last time I agree with Russ. VA’s relative prosperity is wholly due to it’s proximity to DC and all the consultants, lawyers, think tanks and defense contractors that Big Government produces. That is what allows for its business friendly fiscal policy.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Observer – I don’t deny that Virginia benefits from its proximity to the Federal government, but that doesn’t explain why taxes in DC and Maryland continually skyrocket and they run huge budget deficits year after year while Virginia maintains a balanced budget and low taxes. DC and Maryland are two of the most corrupt places in the nation, while Virginia has very low corruption. DC, the actual seat of the Federal government, has terrible schools and a high unemployment rate, so it’s obviously more about what you do with the opportunity than the opportunity itself. It also doesn’t explain why Virginia is ranked number 1 for business year after year while DC and Maryland are viewed as business-hostile. Unemployment and disability are strictly controlled. There is a noticeably different culture here than across the Potomac and it has done much to help the state, also making it a culturally pleasant place to live. The unworking are not welcome here.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

Well, I supported Chafee, Raimondo, Taveras. I may not like everything they’ve done, but I’ll take any of them over the alternatives presented by the right.
But the GA is hardly controlled by the progressives (talk about an election cliche), although progressive influence is growing.
http://www.rifuture.org/gordon-fox-wins-moves-back-left.html

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Okay, so you got 90% of what you wanted, but 0% of the problems in the state are your fault because the state will never be progressive enough for you. Got it, Russ.
And the Anchor Rising conservatives/libertarians you condemn will somehow be to blame when they got 0% of what they wanted, just like the election before. Look at the jubilation over on RIFuture and then look at how people here are reacting. Only the willfully blind could believe the tripe Plain serves over on that blog that Rhode Island is a “center-right” conservative state. It’s intellectually dishonest.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

Re: Virginia. Those of you considering it, make sure it is suburban Virginia. My relatives have all moved out of Richmond, citing “crime”. By way of statistics, Richmond does make Providence look like a haven of safety. Not sure about Norfolk. Most of the Tidewater still seems to be unaffected.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

“Look at the jubilation over on RIFuture and then look at how people here are reacting.”
I looked, but the only jubulation I saw about the local races was in reference to the possibility of passing marriage equality. Last I checked the libertarians “I condemn” were with progressives on that one. I’ve said before that I consider myself left libertarian.
Do a search on “Anchorrising” + “with apologies to the actual libertarians” and tell me what comes up.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

http://www.rifuture.org/election-analysis-huge-night-for-rhode-island-progressives.html
“Across the board, local progressives have reason to celebrate.” – Bob Plain, 11/7/12
I repeat: progressives own it now. You did before too, but now you have no more excuses left.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

Re: Virginia. Those of you considering it, make sure it is suburban Virginia. My relatives have all moved out of Richmond, citing “crime”. By way of statistics, Richmond does make Providence look like a haven of safety. Not sure about Norfolk. Most of the Tidewater still seems to be unaffected.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

Yes, exactly. Bob spends most of that post talking about the Congressional races and then mentions a couple of local issues that may get revisited, marriage equality, voter id, and restoring tax rates for the wealthiest to where they were before the “progressive” GA slashed them. Gains, yes. Control, puh-lease.
“The challenge for progressives will be to convince Fox to govern like he campaigned.”

Mike
Mike
9 years ago

An oldie but so on target….
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy…
– Alexis de Tocqueville

Phil
Phil
9 years ago

It’s the society in which the RIGOP has to operate.
Everything is alright with the Republicans. It’s just those pesky voters.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

That’s not de Tocqueville, although it sounds much better when you attribute it to him. We’ve discussed that one before…
http://www.anchorrising.com/barnacles/013569print.html

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
9 years ago

@phil-in the case of Cicilline there is really something wrong with a society not offended and turned off by corruption and bald faced lying.
As far as the other races,Reilly didn’t have a smoking gun of any kind against Langevin.Hinckley was knowledgeable but quixotic-he didn’t get much help from the national party.The GA is always dominated by Democrats-yawn-it ain’t changin’.
@russ-your “solutions”are about as helpful as the meningitis outbreak
“Marriage equality”does nothing except make some homosexuals happy.It sure doesn’t affect the economy one way or the other.

Jim
Jim
9 years ago

The republicans have a branding problem. On a national level by the time the candidate gets through the year of running in the primary, he has pandered to the extreme in the party to get the nomination there is no way to come back to run a campaign without being branded as a flip flopper. They need to govern from the center, but after playing to the religious wackos and tea party they for the primary season and tearing each other down they don’t have time to work back to the center. Mitt tried to get back to the center, and almost did, if it wasn’t for Sandy taking away his momentum and a bunch of moronic GOPers giving Rape quotes he might have done it.
As for RI, voting democrat is like being a Red Sox fan. Passed down from generations.

Justin Katz
Justin Katz(@justin)
9 years ago

Jim,
I just don’t buy that, for three distinct reasons:
1. Social issues are a bogeyman, but not THE bogeyman with which Romney Republicans were tarred.
2. Ultimately, a political philosophy promoting fiscal conservatism without social conservatism must be either a mild statism or a “cruel and selfish” (as the other side would say) libertarianism.
3. Rhode Island, which I’m increasingly convinced is the future example of America’s current path emphasizes both points above.

Max D
Max D
9 years ago

“They need to govern from the center, but after playing to the religious wackos and tea party they for the primary season and tearing each other down they don’t have time to work back to the center.”
Time is not the problem. With today’s social media, political bloggers, and DVRs, the fight leaves a trail of carnage that never goes away.
“Mitt tried to get back to the center, and almost did, if it wasn’t for Sandy taking away his momentum”
You’re not the only one that feels that way:
nation.foxnews.com/chris-matthews/2012/11/07/chris-matthews-im-so-glad-we-had-storm-last-week

OldTimeLefty
9 years ago

Phil succinctly labeled this blog’s problem when he commented, “Everything is alright with the Republicans. It’s just those pesky voters.”
Now examine three of Justin’s laments:
1. “This is the Rhode Island electorate treating it as a no-brainer to handle infrastructure projects in a way that makes it roughly 50% more expensive.” You need to explain where you get the 50% more expensive number. Perhaps you can borrow some of Paul Ryan’s “chart-laden videos” and his “cutting analysis” since he no longer needs them as they have been reduced to irrelevance. I will remind you that unsupported assertions are not facts. Where’d the numbers come from?
2. “Say what you will about the individual proposals, but this does not indicate high demand for fiscal conservatism.” Who says that the state is fiscally conservative? You may want it to be what you call fiscally conservative, but you are of by 2/3rds of the electorate. Rhode Island is not Oklahoma.
3.“Increasingly, the Democrats here range from those who want to expand government for ideological reasons to those who want to be part of the ruling class and are willing to follow the formula.” That this is simply assertion based on a priori conviction is easily demonstrable by taking the above sentence and changing two words: 1- Change “Democrat” to “Republican”, 2- Change “expand” to “contract”. Again, opinion is being substituted for fact.
OldTimeLefty

OldTimeLefty
9 years ago

Correction to typo:
Should be “you are off by 2/3rd’s of the electorate.

Andrew
Andrew(@carroll-andrew-morse)
Editor
9 years ago

The answer to your first point is the Secretary of State’s Voters’ Handbook.
sos.ri.gov/documents/elections/VoterHandbook_2012.pdf
Here are the numbers from the Charts on Question 3:

TOTAL PROJECT AND ISSUANCE COSTS
Principal: $50,000,000
Interest: $23,581,750
Total Costs: $73,581,750

Ideology can’t be used to do away with politically incorrect math.

OldTimeLefty
9 years ago

If you look at question #3 on the ballot and actually read the handbook, you will find that the loan “Assumes an interest rate of 4.0%, with bonds amortized with level payments over twenty years.” – I’d love to borrow $50,000,000 under these terms. I’m not very clever about money, but I’d be a rich man at the end of the loan time.
Also, what do you mean by saying, “Ideology can’t be used to do away with politically incorrect math.”? What is incorrect about the math? Who is trying to explain the loan away? Are you implying that a private company could borrow $50,000,000 and then do the job for less-who? What company? Why do you play John Alden to Justin’s Miles Standish?
OldTimeLefty

Will
9 years ago

Hi again from Virginia; Richmond to be precise. Much like Rhode Island’s own Providence, Richmond can’t be painted with too broad a brush. The East Side is not south Providence is not Elmhurst is not downtown is not the west end. Richmond has many different sections and neighborhoods, ethic enclaves and a lot of culture, with relative positives and negatives depending on where within it you may live or at what time of the day you choose to go for a walk. While crime may be on paper a major issue in Richmond, as with most cities, to be perfectly blunt, it’s only really is a problem if you’re in a gang, prostituting yourself, or buying or selling drugs at 3AM from a street corner. Other than that, it generally tends to be someone elses problem. Most of the crime, to the extent it exists, is not done at random. For most of the people in Richmond, regardless of racial or economic background, the city presents itself in a fairly positive light, especially to those like me who are starting to experience it in more depth. PS While VA does benefit to some extent from federal government spending relative to its proximity to DC, that’s not even close the reason why it does very well in most indexes in all sorts of areas. VA has a great business climate… the government does things that attract businesses to stay and relocate here. It has a solid public and private educational system, especially at the college level. It is a right to work state, so union corruption is not factor. It has a reputation for clean and efficient government which does not tolerate corruption, and it has many media sources which actually hold politicians accountable. Maybe most importantly, it has highly competitive… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew(@carroll-andrew-morse)
Editor
9 years ago

What’s incorrect is arguing that paying $73.5M for the same thing you could pay $50M for is not paying about 50% more. Everything else in your last comment is static.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
9 years ago

Anyone who thinks it was OK to vote for a piece of crap like Cicilline is beyond hope-they have traded their common sense(if they ever had any)and decency for party line expediency.i hope sincerely that Cicilline’s lifestyle catches up with him and makes him a non-issue in the future.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Joe – I understand the joke, but I think that’s over the line. It should be enough that he’s removed from office and thrown in jail if he’s done anything illegal. Wishing physical harm on people isn’t productive.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
9 years ago

@Dan-over the line?I don’t give a damn.He lives a lifestyle of complete degeneracy and if he gets sick that’s just too bad.There are many other people of his orientation who just live relatively normal lives-I’m not making a general observation about homosexuals,although pretending it’s normal is a little bizarre.I have a live and let live attitude.He throws it in everyone’s face with his behavior-if a hetero politician did that,they would be excoriated.Frank Ferri is openly gay,but I would not say the same thing about him.This is specific to that miserable lying little SOB Cicilline

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