Dave Richards for July 10th…………….
--This weekend we have two really nice outdoor events going on in our city, and both at River Island Art Park. We have week three of the Levitt/AMP Woonsocket Concert series on Friday night, featuring The Lexies and headliner band Steve Smith and the Naked Truth to be followed on Saturday and Sunday by a delightful Art and Music Festival with continuous music and food and booths.
Some folks talk about “the good old days”. I say rubbish to that. I was there and they weren’t so good. I remember growing up here and there was truly ‘nothing’ to do in the summertime except for the St. James, Manville, and the Queen of Martyr’s Carnival in Woonsocket. Now, we have three great events in one weekend! Make the most of it and make good memories, folks!
--I heard an interesting interview on the radio yesterday. The person being interviewed was Steve Brown, the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union. Yes, I had the same initial reaction when I heard A.C.L.U. as many of you do. They have a reputation of being the St. Christopher of the legal system, that is to say, “the patron saint of lost causes”. That’s not particularly accurate, but it’s the image they have built for themselves among the general public, it seems to me.
Regardless of what we may think of the organization, the interview left me with one clear idea. The idea is that our country is changing fundamentally and on many different levels.
The change I see is not about liberal or conservative points of view or political leanings. The change I’m talking about is one of the most basic changes this country has ever seen. It is the reason historians give for the American Civil War of the 1860s. This topic has been debated since the earliest days of the Republic. It is the balance between the rights and responsibilities of the individual states and the rights and responsibilities of the federal government.
The Constitution, which is the fundamental instrument of our country, says it well. Those rights not specifically reserved by the federal government belong to the individual states. What has actually happened, though, down through history is the Federal Government has gotten stronger and the states have, if not gotten weaker, have at least looked to the feds to do the dirty work they didn’t want to or couldn’t afford to do. This appears to be changing.
Whether it’s because so many people now look at a bloated federal government as ineffective, or because so many people disagree or disrespect the federal government, state after state is passing laws they agree with, even in contradiction to federal statutes.
One example of this is the phenomena of so many states passing laws regarding the use of marijuana. But it won’t stop there. My deadline for this column prohibits me from knowing as I write these words who President Trump nominated to the Supreme Court, but conventional wisdom indicates it will not be a persona of liberal or progressive leanings. In fact, the odds-on bet is it will be a conservative.
Liberals all over the country are predicting the 45 year-old Supreme Court decision regarding the legality of abortion, commonly known as “Roe vs. Wade” may be re-interpreted by the new Supreme Court to either dis-allow it or make other changes to weaken its effect. The ACLU and others have sounded the “all hands on deck” klaxon and are now working, at least in Rhode Island, to pass state laws which will codify that Supreme Court decision and make it state law here. They reason that if the state acts in this manner, it doesn’t matter what happens in Washington, at least in Rhode Island.
They have a point. And this is only one example of how states are reacting to a federal government which seems to be dividing us instead of uniting us. I am uneasy with this development, as I’m sure you can understand. Of course, it is a trend so big and so fundamental that neither you nor I can do much to alter its course. That is something only a president can do. The president must unify the majority of the people in the country into a group with one common direction and with concern for others as well as themselves. It takes a special kind of leader to do that. It takes a person of uncommon skills to do that. I certainly hope we can elect such a person next time. It appears this president doesn’t have the skills to unify, only to divide.
--That’s what I think. What do you think? Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.
Thanks for reading.