Adventures in the political silly season
The election season of nonsensical marketing, cheap assails on competitors, and forgotten relevant philosophies, is in full gear. What may be lost in the actions exhibited so far is any relative information to real issues. Thus, begging the inevitable question; will this year’s election season simply be a production of rhetoric and ephemera?
Candidates, who may have the best of intentions, unfortunately listen to political operatives whose advice is driving them toward absurd tactics. However, if the outlandish ideas that have been displayed thus far are indeed the intuitions of the candidates themselves, then they should withdraw from their races immediately.
As a result, petty discrepancies, garish displays of candidate countenances, and contrived commercials permeate the Ocean State’s media landscape.
Political satirist Will Rogers once posed the question to candidates; are you running to be something or to do something?
More specifically, are you driven by ego or purpose?
Post declaration day the remaining candidates for governor are the incumbent Democrat Gina Raimondo, and her primary opponents, former Secretary of State Matt Brown and former state representative Spencer Dickinson. Vociferous independent candidate Joe Trillo has abandoned the GOP. So, Republicans Mayor Allan Fung, Representative Patricia Morgan, and businessperson Giovanni Feroce are battling for the nomination.
Additionally, William Gilbert will be on the ballot for the Moderate Party.
Our current governor, Ms. Raimondo has been marketed nationwide as a Democratic messiah who has totally improved the conditions in the Ocean State. Contrarily, her perception here at home is somewhat less glorified. Most in our state perceive Gina as an out of touch elitist who is more concerned with marketing her personal brand than actually making the Rhode Islanders life better.
Her campaign’s onslaught of commercials, have sought to depict the incumbent as a good old favorite daughter of our state. Instead they have conveyed an incredulous message that borders on a Saturday Night Live skit. In one of the most humorous, the governor is hoisting a cool one at a bar. Now we produce some beer her in Little Rhody, but we are hardly a brewing capital. Obviously this spot attempted to show Gina as just one of the girls. Someone you might talk ball scores with at the bar is what they were trying to depict.
Another commercial spot talks about the old Rhode Island and the new Rhode Island. In this contrivance, the Raimondo campaign implies that prior to her tenure Rhode Island was a lost society only renewed by her efforts. The ad asserts that our economy has risen from the 36th worst economy to the ninth best. This assertion is not supported by any government statistic, but rather by a Riamondo friendly business periodical. She also claims great strides in infrastructure repair. Only the reference information she cites is her own department of transportation.
One can only anticipate that past commercials showing her meat cutting grandfather and her watch-making dad will return. Along with bike riding with the kids, meatloaf preparation cannot be too far off on the horizon in this campaign commercial season.
All of this is an effort to humanize an academically superior millionaire who seems to not adequately hide her disdain for the rank and file Rhode Islander.
Furthermore, the governor’s biggest problem is simply she has been over marketed. Rhode Islanders are no longer sure who she truly is, an opportunist with a constant eye on the national stage, or one of our own concerned with our future.
Gina’s far left competitor for the nomination is former Secretary of State Matt Brown. Brown has been away from the state for a decade working for an organization he co-founded seeking the elimination of all nuclear weapons across the globe. His entire campaign has been just as futile. Other than live radio talk show interviews in which he cataloged his beliefs as slightly to the left of Chairman Mao, Brown has made little headway. Fringe social activists wish to canonize Brown as a fellow traveler, but their voting populous is miniscule.
Sincere former State Representative Spencer Dickinson is also vying for the Democrat nomination. Dickinson is an old/tyme Democrat back when the party was known as the safeguard of the working man rather than an institution dedicated to significant changes in social mores. If Dickinson could present his laudable record on Smith Hill, he might build momentum. Unfortunately, money equals exposure and comparatively Spencer does not have much. Sadly, most Democrat voters do not know he is running.
On the GOP side the heir apparent is the Mayor of Cranston Allan Fung.
Fung’s commercial titled “Hard Work” centers on his parent’s immigration to the United States and the American dream fulfilled. He also takes credit for Cranston development and the employers who have increased jobs. What is lost in the messaging is any specific views on executive management, or any efficiencies he might impose to right the ship of state. There are visuals of the mayor and his wife walking in a field and active retail centers. In other words, there is nothing substantial being presented but feel-good rhetoric. Allan’s main proposal is what is traditionally called “good government”. Good Government is lessening regulation, consolidating inspection departments, and lowering levies of taxation. All are tried and true Republican policies that every GOP candidate for governor has rhetorically promised and never delivered upon. Instead of broad ideas, please, Mayor, give us specific proposals how these ideas could be implemented.
On Allan’s heels is House Minority Leader Representative Patricia Morgan. Morgan has taken every opportunity in free media she could get her hands on, because she has little money to campaign with. Recently, there was a revelation that Mayor Fung may not have paid market rate for a campaign headquarters and what rent checks were sent were not cashed. Morgan’s acidic complaints about Fung’s rent situation sounded shrill and devalued her voice. Also, the representative too often repeats her personal narrative to the point of nausea.
Patricia is a true conservative Republican, but often her clarity on issues becomes muddied by her cranky zealousness.
Last and least is Giovanni Feroce. Feroce is a smart dynamic fellow whose time may come a few cycles from now. However, his recent bankruptcy and foreclosure eclipses any message of reform he has attempted.
And then there’s Joe! Independent Joe Trillo is a former state representative. A fleet of trucks emblazoned with his exaggerated head floats around the states like ghostly apparitions from an Edgar Allen Poe short story. Additionally, an oversized banner affixed to his yacht has motored along Rhode Island’s shore blaring messages and music. Whatever the Trillo campaign is trying to convey they are failing. The real message is: I own a yacht and you don’t and I am going to disrupt your family’s day at the beach.
The Moderate Party will have a name on November’s ballot. Running for governor is William Gilbert. Gilbert is a bright guy who plans to run with virtually no funding. As a result, whatever platform he has, not many will hear it.
In a state with crucial problems it would be nice if our candidates actually discussed issues of import. Thus far, all we have witnessed is a monument to P.T. Barnum. We voters do not want to see a show, or endure malicious criticisms of competitors, or be battered with effigies. We would like to know the following: What do you perceive the problems to be and how would you attempt to solve them?