As I have stated several times, there are tremendous benefits to the mass protests and continued pressure placed on politicians. The Betsy DeVos nomination, which might actually go down, is a great example. None of this happens without the utter outrage over how this plutocrat will hurt our children.
Now that takes moving Republicans, which is hard to do as most of them don’t care about our children. But protest really matters in the blue states too. As we all know, our Democratic politicians are a lot less uniform in their outlook than Republicans. Some are populists, some are close to Wall Street. Some are major union supporters, others keep their distance. Some see centrist respectability as a goal, others eschew it. Some will go to the mat to protect our most vulnerable citizens, others may well not. In all of these cases, protests move lame Democrats closer to the right way. In Rhode Island, this is critical. The Tea Party-style action here last week against Sheldon Whitehouse for voting to confirm Mike Pompeo got headlines throughout the left media. That got people’s attention, including that of the senator himself.
This sort of thing is even more critical with our governor, Gina Raimondo. The ultimate Wall Street Democrat, she is pretty bad on some issues, especially in destroying the pensions of union workers. Now, generally she has said the right thing publicly on resisting Trump, including at the beginning of the rally that challenged Whitehouse. But how far will she go in resisting Trump? Will she declare Rhode Island a sanctuary state and put it all on the line. So far, the answer is no.
“I don’t think [Donald Trump can withhold federal funds.] I don’t think it’s legal,” said Raimondo, “The President cannot unilaterally decree that. So what I’ve said is let’s take it a day at a time, let’s be vigilant but not hysterical, uh, that’s a lot of money, your know, $3 billion flows into Rhode Island and I do have to make sure- I have to be practical- and make sure that my folks don’t get hurt.” [italics mine]
So if it is ruled legal to withhold federal funds, asked Braude, does that mean you comply?
“It depends,” replied Raimondo. “This is all about the details. So we’ll wait and see how it goes. But- The mayor of Providence, for instance, has said, ‘Look, we’ll give up our federal money, we are a sanctuary city.’ I’m not there yet.”
Do you support [Elorza] on that, asked Braude.
“That’s his decision. He’s running the city, I get billions of dollars of federal money that the people of Rhode Island need so I have to be practical.”
It is estimated that there are 30,000 undocumented persons in Rhode Island. To a crowd of thousands, Raimondo’s support for their human rights was absolute. When questioned by a reporter, Raimondo remembers her fiduciary duties and suddenly those 30,000 people have a price tag she may not be willing to pay. We may stand in solidarity, but when $3 billion is on the line the term my folks suddenly doesn’t apply to the undocumented.
The undocumented may belong here, live here and pay taxes here, but they don’t pay $3 billion in taxes. $3 billion is $100,000 per undocumented man, woman and child.
Perhaps no one, documented or not, is worth that much to Governor Raimondo.
Now you might say she is being smart. That there is a price in which the state cannot pay to protect its most vulnerable residents. I would disagree. I think the state needs to stand up directly to Trump and dare the federal government to take on the state, with all the massive consequences that would lead to. It’s hardly surprising that Raimondo wouldn’t take the lead–if California does it and Connecticut does it, then Raimondo might follow. But no equivocation on this point can be acceptable and if she continues along these lines, we need direct action protests challenging her every day.
And the same goes for your mayors and governors,