Richard Fernandez asks and answers an interesting question on which Rhode Islanders’ opinions should be valued across the country:
How might people react if the land promised by modern cultural Pied Pipers turned out to be a hell? We now know the answer is: surprised. The significance of Peggy Noonan’s 2016 moment is not only that it so perfectly coincides with the end point of seven years of progress towards Hope and Change, but it marks the moment when the penny finally dropped for the American upper middle class. After a long and arduous march through the institutions, the progressive bus has finally arrived at its long promised paradise hotel and found it desolate, dangerous and full of roaches.
Fernandez limits himself too much by allowing for only one answer. The reality is that one gets the full negative rainbow of reactions. The other day, one of my local friends touched base with a reliable local ally with regard to the budget petition I put in for Tiverton. Gone. Rhode Island wasn’t palatable anymore, so he skipped to Florida. This happens constantly.
One might say that our friend reacted by getting on a departing bus for elsewhere. Some portion of people who do the same probably never have his awareness of what the problem is; they just know Rhode Island isn’t doing it for them, so they leave.
Others respond with anger. This emotion cuts across the political spectrum, but I have in mind particularly, today, the large number of Trump enthusiasts in Rhode Island. Such folks have gotten so used to having their views not matter that they almost don’t care what kind of a president he would be. The idea is to tear down the system.
And then there are those who imagine away the problems. For them, the progressive bus never reaches its destination, as evidenced by the fact that the world is not perfect, yet. The answer is always more of what ails us. Drive deeper… or walk on, if the bus won’t move.
Others just do their best to ignore the problems, mostly because they’ve got some special deal built into the status quo.
And others (a certain editorial board comes to mind) insist on trying to operate the bus even though it’s stopped and out of gas. Inasmuch as the battery isn’t dead yet, the vehicle seems like it might respond. The civic system kinda-sorta does the things civic systems are supposed to do, so (they insist) the safest plan is to stay in our seats and keep pushing on the gas pedal and the brakes, putting on the turn signals, and playing with the climate controls.
Standing in Rhode Island, I’d suggest that the important question isn’t what happens upon arrival. Rather, it’s what those of us who recognize our location do to help those who haven’t yet done so.