As we enter the so-called season of love, politics in Rhode Island are producing a love story between unlikely partners, and they may not even realize that Cupid’s arrow hath struck Smith Hill.
I have occasionally floated the notion that Rhode Island may be better off by, in a broad sense, temporarily abandoning the conventional “left-right” political spectrum and instead following more of an “institutional-disrupter” model. This might better frame some key issues and redistribute decision-making authority, and in doing so, might reveal a massive consensus on the need to adjust the manner in which power is structured in The Ocean State.
As “moldgate” / The Convention Center saga unfolds, (along with the ongoing Jeff Brit House District 15 mailer matter, the impending 2020 GA race and other concerns to Speaker Mattiello), political opponents of the Speaker from both the left and right are using the moment to shine light upon the process and authority exerted by The Rhode Island Speaker of the House and how such power may be inappropriate.
While there is much to be said for the value of continuity in any form of leadership, Rhode Island independents, some moderate Democrats, progressive Democrats and Republicans all have a stake in ensuring that their voices — and most importantly, the voices of the state writ large — are properly heard.
Similarly, as developers clear-cut forest land in rural areas of the state to install solar and wind energy infrastructure, Republicans, environmentally conscious independents and progressive Democratic Rhode Islanders find themselves aligned in an effort to create an appropriate and effective renewable energy program in the state, not just one that benefits select developers while negatively impacting forested areas. Again, they’re playing politics along the institutional-disruperter spectrum, not the left-right.
While “liberal, left” and “conservative, right” positions may differ significantly on some important issues, in the case of structure of power and authority in Rhode Island, there are more commonalities than differences between liberals and conservatives.
Rhode Islanders should be asking themselves a basic question when it comes to evaluating the functionality of government: Is (insert issue, situation) an appropriate use of authority or not? As currently constituted, both formally and informally, authority may rest too heavily in the hands of The Speaker.
The only way to change this is via a broad base of disruptors that includes multiple political positions.