Monday, February 28, 2005

Why can't Republicans win in Providence?

'Cause they are idiots, Donald!' While some of you might believe this, I find it troubling and strange that the Grand Old Party (GOP) currently holds nary a one City Council spot among the fifteen city wards. The current council is made up of fourteen Democrats and one Green Party member. As late as the September 2004 Primary, there were only 5,045 registered Republicans in the city. To put that number in perspective, there were 101,131 registered voters city-wide. That means, the total people registered Republican is about 5 percent. The Democrats on the other hand sport 57,892 card carrying members. The next largest voter affiliation category is actually the unaffiliated totaling 37,776. Consequently, based on numbers alone its no wonder there are no city councilmen or state legislators that carry the elephant pin. The Providence Dems have done an effective job marginalizing Republicans whereas Republicans have done a pitiful job in promoting themselves and carrying a clear message that attracts voters. I asked some random people (read: my boys) what they thought about Republicans. Answers I received were "Budget cutters, out for big business, doesn't care about the little guy, cost me my job" and on and on. Republicans have done little to change that perception as evidenced by many of the proposed cuts by President Bush and our own Governor Carcieri. In this state, the tactically savvy Democratic party has seized on easy opportunities to spout their propaganda-never admitting to their own capitulation to and creation of problems within government. For instance, if educational funding does not get overhauled this year, who's going to get the bulk of the blame? The General Assembly which is stocked with Dems who have lived at the state house for decades or the Republican Governor who has served approximately two years and a month? Answer: the Governor. And what's more puzzling is the fact that Providence residents continue to vote Democrat as if the Dems were these cool cats with superpowers and compassion despite Democratic leaders whose actions or inaction has failed to address real needs in our community. For too long minorities in this region have supported the Democratic party without so much as a glance at the Republicans. I'm not saying that everyone should jump the Democratic bandwagon and join the Republicans. I'm not even saying that the Democratic vision is all that bad. Instead, I desire to see a city that has strong political parties and smart residents so that our government will become truly representative, for the people, and by the people. Strong Political Parties Where there is more competition the product is ALWAYS better. If the Dems had to face challenges besides themselves for city government seats it is not only likely, but would definitely result in more accountable legislators, better overall representation, and inclusionary politics whereby the diversity of our community would be reflected by our legislative body. With strong Democrat, Green, Libertarian, and yes, Republican parties in the state-we'd be presented with the best choices our state has to offer and move to an atmosphere where 'city-first' is the breastplate each legislator wears. Without strong parties the Dems are likely to maintain control of the process, the money, and our future. And when power is left to the hands of the few, inequality is the result. Our community is too diverse to allow this to happen. Smart Residents The only way a corrupt system continues is by the lethargy and apathy of the populace. During the Citizen Education Campaign this past year, I asked a young man why he didn't vote. He said, "they're all crooks." I don't proscribe to his viewpoint and more to the point, I don't condone it. You have some very dedicated people in Providence politics. People who are working for real change and are really changing how politics work. Yet, these 'satellites' are overshadowed by others who are not getting the job done. And from the comments of this young man and others I have spoken with, residents don't see any change coming. I believe that if residents began to scrutinize the people they voted for and began to hold them accountable for their decisions, we'd see real progress. Consider that at a meeting where 100+ jobs were being cut in the school system ONLY 150 people showed up, 50 from ACORN. Not that I have a problem with ACORN, but ACORN's vision needs to trickle down to the average resident. When that happens, and I believe it can and is, perpetual voting based on name, party affiliation, or the like will be a thing of the past. So Republicans, if you wish to start winning races put forth some competitive candidates and start informing residents of your policy agenda. And in the marketplace of ideas, we'll see if they resonate or fall on deaf ears.


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