Edward Fitzpatrick wondered, in his Sunday Providence Journal column, how to put an end to the constant corruption in Rhode Island government:
I posed the question to Fox himself: What would this corrupt politician suggest they do at the State House to keep this kind of corruption from happening again?
“Maybe get rid of the connection to electronic banking,” he said, suggesting he might not have looted his campaign account if he had to walk into a bank and face a teller. “It became very easy to push a button and transfer from one to the other.”
Well, I suppose eliminating modern banking is one idea. But how about restoring full Ethics Commission jurisdiction over state legislators to patrol for conflicts of interest? “I passed a bill in the House to give Ethics Commission jurisdiction on the legislature years ago,” Fox replied, “and it’s something that I believe should be looked at again.”
Sure, we could spend another 5-20 years trying to inch the General Assembly toward returning the Ethics Commission’s authority to investigate legislators, but that’s an awful lot of time and energy just to get back to a situation in which corruption was hardly rare, in Rhode Island’s past.
Unfortunately, the two actual solutions to the problem are anathema to liberal journalists: reduce the scope of government’s power, and build up competing parties. As long as government’s authority over our lives is constantly growing, and as long as a single party runs the state without challenge, no fixes will work. All those that are proposed will be perverted into traps for upstart outsiders, whom the media will predictably treat as suspect.
The elites in Rhode Island don’t believe that regular folks can be trusted to run their own lives, and they all still believe the three-generations of pop-culture nonsense that insists that Democrats are always the good guys who are “for the people.”
If Fitzpatrick wants to help turn things around, in Rhode Island’s government, he should start writing profiles of people who aren’t part of the local governing establishment. If reporters want to challenge the way things are done, in RI, they should start by challenging their own understanding of who the good guys are.