EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece was originally submitted on Friday, but because of the blizzard and the ensuing muck from it, I wasn’t able to edit and post it until today. I apologize for the error. – Stephen Greenwell.
A massive snowstorm is heading toward the Ocean State. Superstorm Sandy was bad enough, but now the Northeast is taking another battering. Governor Lincoln Chafee has declared a state of emergency in Rhode Island, telling residents to stay off the roads and stay in their homes.
Mother Nature's wrath is falling white and cold across the Northeast, but a worse disaster has descended on the New England states, one worse than intolerant Puritanism or even state-sponsored statism. The fiscal crisis of underfunded and unpaid pension obligations weigh heavily on voters and state representatives, worse than a superstorm, which will not only demolish houses but undo the legacies and savings of hard-working families, both those who worked in the public as well as the private sectors.
General Treasurer Gina Raimondo has taken what precautions she can to staunch the misery of massive cuts, yet the tsunami of debt roars ever more over Rhode Island.
Beyond the fiscal fears, the demagoguery of the Democratic Party has been an unmitigated and unnatural disaster for Rhode Island. For 70 years, Democrats have dominated the state legislature, where their torrential cascade of debt, deficits and bankrupting taxes and regulations have driven away thousands of Rhode Island residents.
Only in 1983, which some have termed "The Great Fiasco," did some semblance of two-party rule return to the state, when Republicans won an unprecedented 23 seats in the General Assembly.
Today, the legislature remains dominated by the unprecedented disaster of Democratic rule. The real "fiasco," of course, has been the frightening trend of one-party partisanship (if such a dynamic is possible) in Providence, one that has unleashed an unearthly flurry of anti-growth polices.
Rhode Island has one of the worst business climates, replete with thundering regulations, hurricane-like taxes, and a snowstorm of spending which has blanketed the state in unrelenting debt. Instead of a field of powdery, gentle white, there is a thrashing sea of red ink washing along the shores and covering not just the homes, but the future of the state and its residents.
The "Red Sea of Debt" is so great that the city of Providence may have to seek the intervention of Divine Providence to part present bondholders and taxpayers (what few that remain) from the threatened bankruptcy drowning everything.
Gov. Chafee must declare another state of emergency, one of fiscal and political proportions, a formerly subtle disaster that is now erupting across the state, New England, and is even threatening larger states like Illinois and California.
Forget about global warming, and forget about gay marriage. The biggest crisis afflicting the state of Rhode Island is the ungodly dominance of the tax-and-spendthrift Democratic Party. However, it does not necessarily take an "Act of God" to end this heinous, disastrous dominance. In declaring a state of emergency, Gov. Chafee and supporters can enact the following reforms:
1. Pull the Master Lever once and for all. Get rid of this petty polling practice that permits one party to dominate every statewide office with one vote. Every resident in Rhode Island deserves to choose individually and selectively who will represent them at the city, the state, or even the national level. Not since the Gilded Age of political machines and politicized corruption have such hollow tactics existed. Boss Tweed of Tammany Hall would sprinkle perfume on the ballots that he wanted cast, and others have attributed the exhortation to him about tallying ballots: "It's not the number of votes that counts, but vote counters." He also quipped: "As long as I count the voters, what are you going to do about it?" The voters should do something all right, and end the Master Lever.
2. Initiate open primaries. Many parties should have the opportunity to participate in Rhode Island politics. Why should party have all the fun, partying on the taxpayer's dime? Republicans can coalesce with libertarians, or Democrats and Republicans who agree on anything can form their own party. More choices, more freedom, more power to the people.
3. Enact a Citizens' Commission to draw the boundaries for state legislative and Congressional representation. Instead of permitting the state legislature to gerrymander local and and statewide seats, why not permit a select group of dedicated Rhode Islanders to draw up the districts. Instead of creating safe districts for state senators and assembly members, citizens would only take into account the geographical or at least the basic cultural similarities between and within cities.
Gov. Chafee, it's time to declare another state of emergency: a fiscal and political crisis. The Capital city of Providence is going bankrupt, and aside from an "Act of Providence", the well-being of your state requires well-meaning reforms which will return the power of representation to the people instead of the politicians. End the Master Lever, open up the primaries, and let the citizens design their constituencies. These reforms will expand choice and limit the scope of government in the lives and livelihood of Rhode Islanders.