This endorsement is one of the most difficult to make because, based on this author’s personal, professional and procedural experiences with Speaker Fox, he is unlikeable on all counts. In the spirit of full disclosure, when a written appeal for help on a personal level as well as a statewide plea for any continuing aid, or consideration thereof, was sent to Speaker Fox, the result was a rather snide and condescending letter. To his credit, Fox did take the time to personally sign the letter. Woot.
On the other side of the spectrum, independent Mark Binder is very likeable. Binder is soft-spoken, thoughtful and seemingly diplomatic. Both are very intelligent and exceptional communicators in spite of their opposing methods of expressing their respective messages. The white-hot, spotlit issues staged in this particular political drama are 38 Studios, pension reform, education reform, pay-day lending and gay marriage. Binder has the advantage on all of these.
However, the reason he holds the upper hand is because he has never had to deal directly with the decision making that comes from the Democratic-Republic system of being an elected lawmaker. His campaign has been run primarily on pointing out the failures of his opponent. To his credit, there are many to point out.
38 Studios was/is a massive cocktail of economic woe and, in spite of many others dipping a straw in that scorpion bowl, Fox was left holding the empty glass and the state will be feeling the fiscal hangover for a long time. To maintain the metaphor of blame, the EDC was definitely behind the bar along with then Governor Carcieri and possibly more nefarious influences like Jon Brien and ALEC.
Pension reform can be looked at as a mathematical necessity over the long term in spite of Fox and Raimondo’s bullying methodology. This reform is now headed to the courts who may or may not decide its legality and validity. Fox could have avoided this by using his position of authority to encourage more diplomacy and negotiation with those who suffer the economic repercussions of broken statutes, rather than ignoring the requests for more time, talk and less speculation of Fox’s caving to the “last place aversion” psychological influence of the private sector and the bond market.
There is no question that Rhode Island’s public education system requires a massive overhaul. Pages have been filled with discussion on what is wrong and how to fix it. Suffice it to say, Fox is affiliated with RI-CAN. This organization has questionable means of achieving admirable motives. Better public schools? Yes please. Systematic elimination of teachers unions in order to publicly fund corporate charter schools? No, thanks.
Gay marriage? Of course it should be legal. And an openly gay man in the most powerful position in Rhode Island’s General assembly who does not, when given the opportunity to promote a progressive agenda and make a stand for his own, unfortunately, disenfranchised minority … well? I suppose there is only one thing to call that: a politician.
Gordon Fox is a politician. He is an effective politician. He is an opportunist. He is a pragmatist. He knows how to attract power and to attach himself to power. Gordon Fox gets things done. He seems to embody the adage of more is lost by indecision than by wrong decision. He says the right things and, maybe, most of the time, he means it. In Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize winning play Angels in America the fictionalized, historical character of Roy Cohn (a gay, lawyer working in high-level politics) talks about politics in a way that is brutally honest. Roy says, “This is… this is gastric juices churning, this is enzymes and acids, this is intestinal is what this is, bowel movement and blood-red meat – this stinks, this is politics, [Joe] the game of being alive.” Perhaps this is too harsh a statement. Probably so. However Gordon Fox understands that to be successful at politics, it helps to be a politician and, often, that means making enemies and unpopular decisions. Sometimes Gordon Fox is not nice. But, again to quote Kushner’s character of Cohn, “Do you want to be nice, or do you want to be effective?”
Mark Binder is very smart. He is very creative. He is very contemplative and diplomatic. Gordon Fox is effective. My endorsement for Representative in House District 4 goes to Gordon Fox.