Rep. Jared Nunes (D, Coventry, West Warwick) may not have succeeded in passing much-needed reforms to the state House of Representatives’ rules with recent legislation, but he managed something very important, indeed. Reformers at any level of government in Rhode Island face a long, frustrating slog and must find encouragement wherever they can.
One source of encouragement is that having somebody push against the establishment wall at least forces its supporters to dispense with some pleasant illusions. In that way, even unsuccessful reform efforts show where doors are merely painted on the wall or where something solid proves to be soft.
Consider this, from a recent Providence Journal Political Scene:
“There are a number of reasons you put a bill in; sometimes you put a bill in to engender discussion,” [Arthur Corvese (D, North Providence)] said about the “held for further study” amendment. “Sometimes people put in bills and tell the chairman or leadership, ‘I don’t want this bill to see the light of day.'”
There you have it. Many of the bills that give activists hope on one side or headaches on the other are never intended to go anywhere, even by their sponsors. They’re meant to patronize you and stitch together a constituency that keeps legislators in office to accomplish what they’re really there for — mainly structuring government in ways that benefit their friends and special interests that actually pay for their connections.