A great man once wrote that “a conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.” When William F. Buckley, Jr., wrote those words, he was speaking out against the creeping orthodoxy that had taken hold of our country, and of the danger that it presented to individual liberty. He urged us to be our own men in a time of conformity.
In Rhode Island, the orthodoxy of our time says that the status quo can never be stopped. That it is the voice of inevitable progress. And that we must carry on with its progress at the expense of everyday Rhode Islanders. That the people of our state must suffer to atone for their privilege. That we will forever be crushed under the boot of high taxes and big-government spending.
The reality couldn’t be further from what the conformists want you to believe. The truth is that the people have within their power to change the status quo. Today, we must never be afraid to be the nonconformists who go against the conventional thinking.
Recently on the Ocean State Current, James Kennedy put forward what he calls the “conservative” case for tolls. While Mr. Kennedy is not a conservative, I admire his effort to see things through the eyes of others. I think it takes great courage for someone on the left to reach across the divide and try to think in ways that are different from their normal thought process. For that, he earned my respect.
However, despite some of the fine arguments he makes for tolls generally in far away places, they are not right for Rhode Island. Today, I will stand before you and say “Stop.” Now is the time that Rhode Islanders stop Governor Raimondo’s toll plan before it is too late.
Kennedy begins his argument that some of the budget cuts proposed by the GOP make sense without question. The GOP policy group has put forward a plan to make reasonable budget cuts to pay for infrastructure repairs in opposition to the governor’s toll plan. Kennedy points to the rampant corporate welfare that plagues our state as an example of cuts that could be easily accepted by the left and the right. He argues that those cuts should translate into tax reform. In an ideal world, this would happen.
In the Ocean State, it is not realistic. Rhode Islanders must be happy warriors and take every opportunity to stop the advancement of bigger government through new revenue streams. We have all heard the big promises made about such projects as 38 Studios. You know better than to trust them one more time. Tolls must be stopped now, or we’ll end up with no reforms and one more place where the status quo can exploit taxpayers.
Rhode Island’s greatest asset is our geography and our state’s location. Tolls will turn it into a weakness as business owners will be forced to reroute around our state, denying the economic boost their presence will bring. Many business leaders have already testified against tolls.
Kennedy argues that we should use tolls as a way to manage congestion. In a state that was recently graded with a “D-“ in business climate, why would we do anything to further limit human activity? Rhode Island does not have a congestion problem. We have an orthodoxy problem. This is the kind of meddling that gets Rhode Island into trouble.
Governor Raimondo’s RhodeWorks proposal is about more than just the cost to Rhode Islanders; it’s about accountability for our political leaders. For too long, they have wasted our hard-earned tax dollars with their bloated spending, and our roads show the results. They’ve painted themselves into this corner. How dare they try to put their mistake onto the backs of working people?
I encourage you to go to StopTollsRI.com. The new coalition has done everything it can to make it as easy for you as possible to make your voice heard. On StopTollsRI.com you will find a petition, where you can stand shoulder to shoulder with others in opposition to the governor’s plan. Sign the petition on StopTollsRI.com now and share it vigorously and often. You have the power to change things in Rhode Island.