Saturday, May 30, 2009

Moderation Now!

Yesterday saw the outcome of a lawsuit filed by the RI chapter of the ACLU back in February on behalf of the Moderate Party of Rhode Island. US District Judge William Smith ruled that the state's law requiring that would-be political parties wait until an election year before gathering qualifying signatures was unconstitutional. Thus, the MPRI can start in right now to gather the 23,500 or so signatures they need to qualify as a political party. (The 23,500 number comes from another law requiring would-be parties to collect 5% of the voter turnout from the last election. Judge Smith ruled that this law was constitutional.)

The MPRI is the brainchild of Barrington business owner Ken Block, a small-government conservative who came to the conclusion that the GOP didn't really mean it when they claimed to favor small government. As a gander at their website shows, the Moderate Party of Rhode Island is only moderate compared to the modern Republican Party. They favor term limits for state legislators, a two-year term limit for the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate, stringent ethics rules, and general lowering of taxes and spending. Block writes, "The hot button social topics of our times (abortion, illegal immigration, etc) necessarily must take a legislative back seat while our economy is repaired and the erosion of the tax base reversed."

It was their need to pander to their base of religious zealots and xenophobes that led the Republican Party to put social topics front and center in the first place, and this has played an important role in their recent collapse here in New England. As I've mentioned before, I think Ken Block's MPRI has the potential to give Rhode Island Democrats a sane opposition party, so I welcome Judge Smith's decision. In fact, I'll even help Brock gather signatures, and as a registered voter I'll add my own Stephen Hopkins to his registration papers.

Good luck, Ken. I hope you make it.
Post a Comment