If there is one state where President Obama has enjoyed high favorability ratings, where corrupted Democrats hold sway (eighty years and counting), where illiberal progressive policies have progressed uninterrupted, look no further than Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, the smallest state with the longest name.
The first colony to enshrine religious toleration, to break away from the British Crown, the last to ratify the US Constitution, the original site of the Industrial Revolution, Rhode Island has become a basketcase of endemic corruption, bureaucratic malfeasance, and electoral despair. A one-party Democratic state whose moderate Republican opposition has wasted away since the mid-1990s, progressives have lately targeted Little Rhody for a greater foothold into the rest of the country.
In need of a good dose of Providence
And the political scene? Abysmal. The one Republican dynasty in the state, represented by Lincoln (son of John) Chafee, has dilapidated under its own marginalized desperation. Senator Chafee ran to the left of his Democratic challenger in 2006, yet still lost. Switching to Independent, he won the 2010 governor’s race by the slimmest of margin, then switched again to the Democratic Party.
Providence, Rhode Island, needs a good dose of its namesake, where pension liabilities threaten bankruptcy (another RI city already went belly-up). The latest mayor election involved one Republican, psychiatrist Dan Harrop, who lost the RI GOP chairmanship by one vote, then in his third bid for mayor betrayed his party to endorse a pantheist Democrat housing judge. The capper? Both were running against a twice-elected former mayor (and twice-convicted felon)Vincent “Buddy” Cianci.
Dysfunctional does not begin to describe Rhode Island politics.
As in other deep blue states, public sector unions rule. They even threatened critical, conservative radio hosts, trying to shut them down with the false “War on Women” meme. Local leaders of the same Republican Party have done nothing to amend unconstitutional municipal legislation, which barred Raymond McKay, a Warwick tech administrator and Rhode Island Republican Assembly President, from running for US Senate in 2014. Freedom of speech and redress of one’s government took heavy hits in this state, and no one was paying attention.
As for the current federal leaders, one Congressman is an acolyte apologist for anti-constiutional elitist Woodrow Wilson, the other an openly gay gun-grabber who as mayor played Providence like a video game from hell (and whose father was a mob lawyer). The US Senate delegation, equally distasteful, includes West Point graduate Jack Reed, who spends more time in Afghanistan than Rhode Island (and was a potential Sec. of Defense replacement); and former federal prosecutor Sheldon Whitehouse, who has delivered countless speeches on climate change, but nothing on economic development.
Is there hope for the land whose motto is “Hope”?
A supermajority Democratic legislature passed pension overhauls and a voter ID law. While Rhode Islanders acknowledge that corruption is par for the course in “Rogue’s Island”, the latest spate of scandals have unnerved them. In a last-ditch effort to harness investment, legislators approved a $75 million loan to Curt Shilling and his dream video game company “38 Studios”. The company went “Game Over”, with the state on the hook to pay. The FBI raided the statehouse late last year, forcing the resignation of House Speaker Gordon Fox. In 2014, Republicans doubled their numbers in the General Assembly (from 6 to 11 with a freedom-leaning independent).
Still, Aside from serving as a detour between Connecticut and Massachusetts, or a byword in the mouths of pundits, political strategists have overlooked Rhode Island as reprobate or inconsequential.
They should look again.
Because of Rhode Island’s diminutive size and influence, federal instigators have tried to turn this state into a blueprint for micromanaging the entire country by executive, bureaucratic fiat. Entitled RhodeMap RI, an initiative from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in conjunction with Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, this plan has been touted as a revitalization effort for harnessing businesses, government, and the environment, but in reality the federalized imposition focuses on breaking residents away from single-family homes into collectivized government housing, all through HUD funding and string-pulling.
Quid pro quo
Westchester County, New York discovered HUD’s illicit intentions huddling in the fine print, and are pushing back. The HUD money comes with conditions, including the right of unelected and unaccountable boards and executives to take away land use and zoning authority from town leaders and their tax-paying constituents. County Executive (and Republican) Rob Astorino is leading the fight, which has motivated conservatives and property owners in general throughout Rhode Island.
More than a latent abuse of eminent domain RhodeMap RI is Big Government domination writ small and inconspicuous. If RI’s state legislature passes this proposal, the fight not just for freedom of speech and association, but private property, individual determination, and integrity of the family will face new assaults, from which they may not recover. An entire state becoming HUD compliant (and thus rendering the US Constitution irrelevant) would only embolden a reckless government intent on wrecking state sovereignty in the name of promoting the greater good.
As goes Rhode Island, so goes the rest of the USA? Not if concerned citizens fight back. Just as the new birth of freedom broke out in Rhode Island, liberty can break forth there (and everywhere else) once again.
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance.