In case you missed it, The New York Times ran an item by Josh Barro on August 14 titled, “Welcome to Rhode Island, America’s Least Polarized State.” Mr. Barro bases this claim — which would have prompted a profound, “No shit, Sherlock” from most Biggest Little voters — on an analysis by two political scientists of legislative voting records from 1996 to 2013.
It’s always nice to be paid attention to by America’s organ of record. Although the residents of the Independent Man’s state, often said to have one million people and one million different opinions, might find some fault in this generalization of our political landscape.
Yes, in strict Tim Russert-ian, red-and-blue state analysis, Little Rhody is indeed a one-party state, when held up against the partisan sewer that is Washington, DC. And Barro relies on a simple premise: “It’s common for Republicans in heavily Democratic Northeastern states to be moderates. What makes Rhode Island stand out is the number of conservatives within its Democratic legislative supermajority.” Well, you can thank the Catholic Church and heavy-handed elitism by GOP pols and businessmen in the state’s evolution for that. Because the state is the most Catholic in the country (Barro cites 2013 Gallup data indicating 54 percent of Vo Dilunduhs are devotees of Il Papa), and politicians need votes to get elected (seemingly their sole goal in life), it’s no wonder we have so many public servants with a “D” after their name who publicly get their knickers in a twist over abortion or same-sex marriage.
P&J will make a long story short by citing Republican state Senator Dawson Hodgson chief’s concern about our unpolarized situation, which he expressed to Barro: “We are a unique state with a unique governing culture — and I would submit, a uniquely bad governing culture.”
Sleep tight, Roger Williams.
Git outta the house!
P&J recently had the chance to work with the RI Land Trust Council on its fabulous, ongoing Land Trust Days, which should be a must for all Rhode Islanders and their families.
Land Trust Days are a chance to yank your Internet-obsessed kids out of the their (un)social media comas and get outside for more than a run to the packie for Cheetos before Duck Dynasty comes back on. Continuing through September 28, LTDs offer more than 50 guided walks, family festivals, farm tours, scavenger hunts, kayak trips, campfire storytelling sessions, barbecues, and other activities designed to make fresh air and nature a part of your diet. This is a statewide celebration that Land Trusters say “showcase[s] the best of the outdoor places that make Rhode Island a special place to live.”
P&J agree. At the LTD kick-off event at Mt. Hope Farm in Bristol, we were treated to a tour of lands where Rhody (and America’s) early history was shaped, ending in a visit to King Philip’s Seat. King Philip — aka Metacom — was the head of the Wampanoags, who eventually went to war with early colonists in some of the most famous battles in our nation’s history, many of which took place right outside your back door.