Open Letter: Don’t Make Us Choose Between Our State and Our Passions, McKee

Governor Dan McKee,

I’m being forced to choose… between a state that I share a profound love for and a career I simply cannot live without. I write to you with great respect for your role in navigating our state from these rough waters; you are the captain of our ship, so consider this a letter from a deckhand.

Six years ago, I quit all I knew to pursue a dream. I left my job on a fishing boat to perform, produce, and write music full time here in Rhode Island. Bringing souls together in concert venues through my songs and stories of friends, family, and love of country has in every way fueled my journey.

Raised here, Rhode Island has been home base for all that I have been able to accomplish, and its people are like no other.

This state has delivered opportunities to me that leave me with a deep sense of gratitude, and I guess that’s what makes my next decision so difficult.

In nearly two years since Covid began, people have lost their livelihoods, their lives, their passions, and their dreams, and in the world of live entertainment a deep sense of purpose has been stripped.

Governor, my future here in Rhode Island is beginning to look grim.

Hosting a concert in this state requires me to violate the values I was raised with, values this nation was built upon. In order to pursue my happiness here you are requiring me to confront and question my audience of their private medical decisions, a decision that is protected by the liberties this nation affords, one that is deeply personal and rooted in reasons far beyond the narrow scope of politics. Your order is suggesting that I label human beings without a care for diversity, inclusion, or compassion… all characteristics that America cherishes. This mandate places me and thousands of others in positions of dividing rather than uniting, something we need now more than ever.

The beauty in what we possess here is the ability to object, converse, and chart a brighter course, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans. Our word, our faith, and our values are all we have.  If we cannot uphold these values when we are tested, then who are we?

With the privilege of your time I ask you this:

Are you willing to discuss an approach that maintains liberties while ensuring safety?


Ben O’Connor

Sign Ben’s petition through Rhode Island for Liberty.

Learn more about Ben’s music.


Featured image by Anni Gupta on Unsplash.

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