If the early remarks and gambits from lawmakers on Smith Hill are any indication … we’re going to be in for a turbulent two years.
First, the new prince of the progressives, freshman Senator Sam Bell, displayed why the far left is playing for keeps and is so dangerous to our state. Going against all standards of decorum and civility on the floor of the Senate, Bell excoriated Dominic Ruggerio when he was re-nominated for Senate President. Regardless of what you may think of the Senate President, Bell’s original attack-plan was to bring up a host of decades-old publicized foibles committed by Ruggerio in an attempt to humiliate him in front of his family, who was in the audience to witness his re-election to the top Senate post. Bell had to be talked out of taking his public remarks it to this extreme … but he was on the radio the next day, this time firing all his ammunition against Ruggerio.
But progressives won’t simply be talked out of their other extreme-left positions. They are committed to a progressive-socialist agenda that seeks to manipulate government to guarantee equal outcomes across our society … a 180-degree polar opposite approach to the principles of rugged-individualism that made America the greatest and most prosperous nation ever.
Having worked with Bell as a panelist at a major debate our Center held many years ago at the University of Rhode Island (URI), and not understanding the progressive mindset at that time, I can now see how new state Senator Bell is precisely typical of the progressive movement.
Not only do progressives advance an un-American policy and cultural agenda, but they also too easily deploy slash & burn and search & destroy tactics … shutting down debate and seeking to personally destroy anyone they encounter who disagree with them politically. This is part of the “evil” Dan Yorke referred to on his radio show last Wednesday, when discussing Bell.
Bell’s gambit was clearly designed to send a message: oppose our progressive agenda, and we will go after you personally! This is not a good sign for those of us who believe in an open and rigorous, yet civil debate.
I do not believe that most Rhode Islanders have adopted the victimization attitude and extreme-left views on economic and cultural policies that the far-left progressives adhere to.
I also believe that progressives in the so-called “reform caucus” are intellectually dishonest in their call for reform of House rules. As I have proffered before, if the progressives were to assume power in General Assembly leadership, they would not be calling for rules reform. They would want to utilize their power to fully advance their misguided agenda. This is why our Center has suggested that constructive rules reforms should be codified as a Constitutional Amendment — to avoid this kind of self-serving politics.
Why is the progressive mindset so misguided? In his comments at the URI debate, Bell actually stated that Rhode Island is struggling economically because our state’s policies are not leftist enough. This unsubstantiated belief is the platform from which virtually all of their policies emanate. While there are many liberals and Democrats who want more public assistance and social justice policies and programs, I know of virtually no one else, other than progressives, who tries to connect Rhode Island’s economic woes to overly conservative policies.
As I have been predicting for years, it turns out that the 2019 and 2020 legislative sessions will be a series of battles between moderate Democrats and progressive Democrats. The major question to be answered is: how much of a “firewall” will Speaker Mattiello and President Ruggerio actually be? Will they stand-firm against the legislative onslaught from General Assembly progressives and, likely, the governor, now that she does not have to worry about re-election?
Sadly, in recent years, Mattiello and Ruggerio have been more of a “leaky dam” against the progressive tide, as many job-killing and anti-religious pieces of leftist legislation have seeped their way into law. Without question, even more of these “social equity” bills will be put forth this year … and the Speaker and Senate President have already started to retreat from their previously stated firewall or stand-firm positions. This, also, is not a good sign.
Because of extremist progressives … a major philosophical rift is widening within the Democratic party: moderates and even many liberals who believe in American values, on the one hand, versus regressive, European-style socialists who do not believe in these core values, on the other hand. Who will prevail? Will the hapless Republicans unwittingly help advance certain progressive bills … or will they hold to conservative principles?
While our RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity does not have the capacity to be an actual firewall, you can count on our Center to stand firm in opposition to any policy that will harm families and businesses in our state.
It will surely be a wild ride the next two years … so buckle-up your seat belts!
Featured image: Capitol TV screen capture of Sam Bell speaking on the opening day of the state Senate.