As progressives hijack Democrats, where are champions of enterprise?

As progressives hijack Democrats, where are champions of enterprise?

Alarm bells are going off in board rooms across Rhode Island; a state on the precipice of falling under the control of progressive-left elitists, who seek to impose more of their extreme values not only on our citizens, but on our businesses.

Never have I heard from so many business people, fearing that our state’s business climate, already ranked in the bottom 10 in multiple national indexes, will get even worse if progressive Democrats succeed in advancing policies that would impose higher taxes and more regulatory mandates.

Case in point: Last year’s paid-time-off legislation to force companies to pay workers when they do not work. Moderate Democrats understood the potential harm to job-producers; and businesses objected. Yet, under political pressure to appease its party’s progressive wing, Democrats compromised on a less intrusive version of the legislation … with the support of some business groups, who actually helped negotiate new mandates that would burden many of their own members.

Fast forward to this year, more anti-growth mandates are already on the docket, and employers are once again moving their lips: “Enough, we have to do something to stop the insanity” they say. Yet none, so far, are willing to take the steps necessary to defend their own companies and employees. Where are the champions of business?

Voters are also key. They need to understand that the progressive-Democrats of today do not share the same values as the “Kennedy” Democrats or Republicans of yesteryear that our parents and grandparents supported. With their recently published “progressive values pledge”, far-left Democrats have declared open warfare on moderate Democrats.

Most Rhode Islanders are unified by love of country, belief in God, and adherence to Constitutional rights. Yet, progressives belittle these long-held tenets; instead promoting a divisive secular, social-equity agenda that crushes economic growth and invades individual liberties. There should be no place for anti-American socialists in the Democrat party. And, as did Bernie Sanders nationally, radical-left progressives are hijacking Rhode Island’s Democrat party; yet party leaders remain silent. These elitist “Sanders” Democrats, who know better than we do, want to legislate their extreme values upon the rest of us. Where are the champions of the real Democrat party?

Most conservatives and moderates, and even many liberals, share core American values. We believe in strong families, a non-politicized educational system, hard work and free-enterprise, freedom of speech and of religion, and the pursuit of self-sufficiency. However, the increasingly vocal and indignant progressive-left wants to restrict our way of life. They believe only in their politically-correct vision of a government-controlled society that limits free thought, over-regulates the economy, brainwashes students, and stifles independence … all while being wholly intolerant of traditional views.

It is common sense that if more Rhode Island families are to enjoy a better quality of life, that more and better businesses are needed to create more and better jobs. Yet progressives, in their idealistic land of make believe, increasingly seek to strangle the private sector with “feel good” mandates that have little justification in reality.

Businesses and families know that Rhode Island is on the wrong track. We hold a vision of a color-blind, merit-based society where everyone has a chance to succeed in life. However, in the identity-politics world of the progressive-left, government exists to manage our lives so as to guarantee equal outcomes and to bestow special favors upon special victim classes … instead of serving all Rhode Islanders the same.

The business sector is the only potential source of electoral and financial strength that, if unified, can effectively fight back against the out-of-state funded, special interest agenda of radical progressives. There is, however, a winning strategy; one that has been effective in other states. Yet, the business community remains paralyzed – unorganized, leaderless, and feckless.

Is there any champion out there?

Mike Stenhouse


Stenhouse is CEO for the nonpartisan R.I. Center for Freedom & Prosperity.