TOM WARD - Progressive ambitions now front and center

TOM WARD - Progressive ambitions now front and center

It will be interesting to see if our state’s Progressive Democrats make further headway in next week’s party primary. They did two years ago, when nobody was paying attention. Now, their ambitions are fully formed, with a young state representative trying to wrest the lieutenant governorship from Dan McKee. For left-wing national money, Rhode Island is a cheap date.

Progressives blame the state’s problems on conservative Democrats in the General Assembly. The charge is that they act like Republicans, and that’s why the state fares so poorly in national rankings. (There’s no explanation of how “red” states – with real Republicans – do so well in the rankings, but let’s ignore that for now. Please.)

I must admit, when it comes to public policy on lifestyle or social issues, I’m more liberal than most people believe. But on finances, I’m conservative and pro-business, and new progressive legislation has harmed this newspaper and its employees already. In other businesses, giving a “living wage” to 17-year-olds for after-school work will just raise prices, plain and simple. “Medicare for All” in Rhode Island, if not done in surrounding states at the same time, will attract outsiders and bankrupt the state, plain and simple.

I was struck by Progressive Democrat candidate for governor Matt Brown’s housing initiative that was released a few weeks ago. He called for keeping rents affordable, as in not allowing small businesspersons – landlords – to raise rents. Well, this might sound just dandy to the undereducated, but as taxes and utility charges go higher, and the landlord’s costs increase, the end result will be private housing stock that’s falling apart. The progressive solution: More $350,000-per-unit subsidized housing, paid for by ever-higher taxes and pro-labor, prevailing wage rates. Eventually, residents with money will flee, like they are doing today in high-tax New Jersey and Illinois. And the progressive house of cards may slowly come tumbling down.

Personally, I don’t need Democrats who are friends to business. Just Democrats and Republicans who aren’t the enemy.

Debategate

It will be interesting to see if there is any damage to candidates who chose not to debate in this primary season. With the vote next week, Democratic frontrunner Gov. Gina Raimondo and Republican Mayor Allan Fung didn’t bother debating challengers (except for Fung’s appearance with Republicans Patricia Morgan and Gio Feroce on John DePetro’s WNRI show last Friday). Providence media was frozen out, and responded by giving plenty of free time to challengers.

Everyone knows the drill: If you’re way ahead in the polls, keep your head down and don’t debate. It’s true, in a perfect world, candidates should not be fearful of getting out there and robustly advocating their positions, face to face, against challengers. But they don’t because it’s not smart politics. There will be debates later this fall for finalists.

The Providence media has made a big deal of this. The question is, do voters care?

McCain’s imperfection

It was pretty easy last week to pick on President Donald Trump for his behavior during the funeral week of Sen. John McCain. It was embarrassing, and sadly, no surprise.

That said, McCain and his family got a pass for doing something equally classless. He didn’t invite his 2008 running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, to his funeral. It is said he came to regret choosing Palin as his vice presidential nominee, and that may be true. But he – McCain – did choose her, taking an obscure governor from a sleepy state and putting her in the white-hot national spotlight. She didn’t ask for the job, but took it, and took the slings, arrows and insults from a press that made up its mind on her the moment she was chosen. McCain dragged her into the fray, lost an election, and then – in the funeral planning done by his own hand – kicked her to the curb.

Yes, there is much to admire about the late senator, but not this. Not the Palin snub, which she handled with grace.

Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze