Arthur Christopher Schaper
At first, one could argue that Dr. Dan Harrop’s decision to donate money to the Elorza campaign was a last ditch effort to prevent Vincent “Buddy” Cianci’s reelection as mayor of Providence. Of course, there were better means of preventing a two-time felon from a third administration, like winning the mayoral race. Despite one activist’s claim that Harrop didn’t have “a snowball’s chance in hell”, US Senate candidate Mark Zaccaria remarked that Harrop could win with one third of the votes plus one.
Did Dr. Dan’s decision have the best in mind for Providence, or did he plan early on to violate his Hippocratic Oath, and become a hypocrite to the cause early on? There were some rumblings of personal investments and other colluding implications that Dr. Dan was plotting, but for now, I am not interested in digging the dirt. I consider the implications of a Republican candidate on a big ticket seat, the chief executive of the state’s largest city, then double-dealing his label and his supporters with a $1,000 donation to the Democrat.
For the record, I had written a strong endorsement of this candidate, detailing how a psychiatrist could diagnose the mental complaints afflicting the capital city: “Dr. Dan: The Right Prescription for Providence”. A flight of fancy, I enjoyed writing it, and I am glad that readers in Rhode Island got a kick out of it, too, including many of his supporters, the same people who must feel an incredible degree of betrayal.
Surprisingly, Harrop’s comments from our last interview indicated a long-term vision for the party:
I believe in the Republican label, I believe in the national label.
I believe in their principles above the Democratic Party.
He did not expect to win, he then told me, but hoped to bring up the GOP ticket throughout Rhode Island:
I expect to lose. I am promoting our principles. I am helping to organize Republicans. If the state candidates can get 25% of the vote in Providence, they can win. We just cannot let it go.
Now, they have nothing to hold onto. One source informed me that Republicans are quitting the party because of these shenanigans. How can anyone look at other Republican candidates with any seriousness if they see the famous Dr. Dan, the founder of the Roosevelt Society, throwing away his campaign with a hand-out to the Dems?
There is something devastating about a candidate who has been anything but candid about his intentions. This affair reminds me of a psychiatrist who listens to his clients’ woes in the day, then sings songs about their pains to sold-out crowds at night. This psychiatrist needs a check-up from the neck-up, or something deeper. This move hurts everyone.
Another conservative activist was livid, but without the screaming:
He is just making a mockery of the whole process. This campaign is like a joke to him. He acts like he is playing in a playground. But there are plenty of people who take this election seriously.
Harrop’s backdoor donation is worse than Operation Plunderdome. Despite the revelation of that scandal, everyone knew that Cianci had a seedy past, and at least Buddy 2.0 brought a Providence Renaissance to the city. Harrop’s backroom dealing is worse than Speaker Gordon Fox’s office getting raided by the FBI. Finally, Fox got fingered for possible corruption (in addition to 38 Studios), and at least he stepped down (though he should have resigned much sooner). Harrop’s backstab is betrayal. How many people were vetting his candidacy or promoting his chances? The doctor owes at least an explanation to his young Brown University charges. In Deo Speramus? Now they have nothing to hope in.
Harrop had even told me that his campaign was running parallel (not contrary!) to Chairman Mark Smiley’s efforts to take back seats in the General Assembly. Harrop crowed that his efforts in Providence would bring in votes for statewide candidates, especially Mayor Fung, whose campaign he also claimed to support. Disillusioned voters rarely turn out to vote. If this qualifies as psychiatric help, I’ll take morning incantations or animal sacrifices instead.
What is the point of a political party when moderates, Democrats in Elephant trunks, or self-serving misfits undermine the party platform, the leaders, and especially the grassroots supporters who put their time, energy, and money into propping up a long-shot campaigns? Harrop might as well have beaten the RI GOP Chairman Mark Smiley over the head with a log (except Buddy already did that to someone else, and won reelection a decade later).
Forget the holy water, or the alcohol. Disillusioned stupor is already in ample supply. When a crooked man steals, there is no surprise. When someone inspires confidence in others to stump for his campaign, then undermines it with a contrary donation, what’s the point?
In Dante’s Inferno, traitors suffered the worst fate. Harrop has lost all credibility and future political prospects: a fate worse than death for a politician. Still, does the Rhode Island GOP deserve to suffer, too?
And Providence still needs a mayor, not a convicted felon nor an empty-slate Democrat.
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.