Arthur Christopher Schaper
Nearly two months later, I am still broken up about Cranston Mayor Allan Fung’s loss. He was not a bad candidate (although the Blockhead commercial was a bad move). In comparison, Raimondo was no better, since she ran against her reform record, could not court strong union support, and sports an elitist streak no matter how many ‘Gansetts she has sold or drinks. Besides, she won only a plurality of the votes. Following a run-off, Fung would have run her off without trouble.
One could blame Fung’s loss on the Cool Moose turned Moderate, but Republicans must do more than complain about their bad luck. Hopefully, they will work behind the scenes more extensively as well as gradually, restructure the party from the ground up, dispense with the brutal primaries (and the traitorous candidates who run for mayor of Providence only to endorse and benefit Democrats), plus do something to minimize future third party spoilers.
Still, Rhode Island politics remains ever in turmoil, with the Chafee name in tatters, but Republicans are back in the black (or red) with more seats in the General Assembly.
As for the Democrats in 2014, they got shaken, rattled, and shellacked, especially in the gubernatorial campaigns. Aside from the protest-vote win of Tom Wolf in Pennsylvania, and the deeper blue hue in Oregon (where a corrupt governor, with a mail-order bride and a failed Obamacare website, won reelection along with broadening Democratic majorities in the state legislature), Governor-elect Gina Raimondo is the only Democratic winner with outstanding credibility (on paper) as a reformer as well as a progressive liberal. General Treasurer Raimondo ascends Smith Hill to become the 75th Governor of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, the state’s first female chief executive, the weakest governor in the country, yet with the strongest Democratic record.
Her profile, position, and political ground-game could catapult into a wider campaign. Congress? Sure, but why try to bump off petty place-holders like Jim Langevin or Grand Theft Auto Cicilline? She already won a statewide office, so why settle for something half-way? US Senate? Certainly, but the next election, barring sudden death or resignation, won’t be until 2018.
Perhaps the Presidency. Gina in 2016? Sounds implausible, even laughable.
Think again. Former First Lady, US Senator, Presidential contender, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been seeking the White House for six years, and is wearing thin on voters, pundits, and the media class. The inevitable candidate of 2008, she lost by slim margins because of identity politics, including the stadium-level endorsement from Oprah for Obama. The Queen of Day Time only solidified that race would define the Democratic nominee as opposed to gender, or character and experience. Six years later, and the failed Obama Administration drifting into irrelevance, partisan progressives are disappointed with Obama’s victory for K Street and Wall Street. They feel played (and played out) over the race card. Today, a rising tide of low-information (and low-intelligence) Democratic voters are ready to pride themselves on electing the First Woman President.
Will it be Hillary, the inevitable nominee once again? The polling suggests that she has all the support, but Iowa focus groups want someone more progressive, more populist. NBC’s “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd is tired of Slick Willy’s Better Half, too. From Benghazi, to terrible People Magazine sales, to the return of apathetic voters looking for the next thrill, ancient-looking Hillary is past her prime.
Enter senior US Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Complete with Eleven Commandments of Progressivism, she could lead her progressive peers out of Hillary fatigue. Her frequent denials of interest in a Presidential bid assure us of the exact opposite. Her last-minute fiery speech against the CRomnibus, including attacks against Big Banks and Wall Street, sent a tingle up populist spines, left and right. Now MoveOn.org has drafted a petition for Warren to run, the latest threat to the Democrats’ version of Mitt Romney.
Yet US News’ Mort Zuckerman predicts doom if the Democratic Party drops Clinton and props up ultra-leftist Warren. They could find in New England another progressive Democrat of deep convictions, but praised by the New York Times, lauded by the National Review, and attacked by the discredited Rolling Stone, who reformed pensions,took on the unions (who are losing all over the country), yet prevailed running with rather than away from President Obama. Such a candidate could outshine Hillary, unite the liberal base and centrist Democrats for the nomination, then fight for the Presidency without embarrassing her party.
That candidate is Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo. She is one of few Democrats still siting on a thin bench of potential Democratic contenders, replete with academic, business, and governmental connections, plus Bill Clinton photo-ops. Besting a three-way primary against pedigree (Clay Pell) and diversity (Angel Taveras), Rhode Island’s Governor-elect can translate partisan unity toward national comity for a 2016 primary victory.
Plus, Raimondo is a woman, satisfying the substantive need of liberal voters to gratify their quest for identity equity in national politics.
Gina for President? MoveOn.org should post another petition for Raimondo, and see how many sign on.
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance.