2014-10-09 / Opinion

The Long Campaign


I f it seems like months ago that we first began to write about this upcoming election, it's for good reason: it was. There's hardly been a week over the course of the last two years that astute political watchers couldn't have read into the headlines and the days' events to glean some sort of insight into the narratives and candidates that have shaped the current election cycle.

For better or worse, our politics do not rest.

However, with just under four weeks to go, the finish line is finally now within sight. We couldn't be more relieved.

Often elections create a sort of tunnel vision which lasts for far too long.

As evidenced by the recent lull in substantive action coming out of City Hall and on Smith Hill, governance is an unfortunate casualty of our electoral season.

If only there were a way to refine our system of politicking. One where the people of the state could have a more significant say in how our elections, our General Assembly, and our general civics are carried out.

Maybe we'd be able to limit the influence of money on our elections, or ensure that our political class adheres more closely to their charge as servants of the public.

Wouldn't it be refreshing if there were a way to fine tune our core government functions so as to better reflect the values of our state?

Thankfully there is.

Down the ballot from the governor's race, past the casino question this November will be a referendum asking voters to authorize a constitutional convention.

It's a requirement that the citizenry be asked such a question periodically, and it's been quite some time since Rhode Island last took a critical eye at our framework for governance.

This year is shaping up to be as good a time as any.

With persistent high unemployment, a pervading sense of mistrust in our institutions, and rapidly changing political norms, we hope that Rhode Islanders turn out in force to vote yes on whether to host a constitutional convention.

Why? Consider this: the last time we held such a review, the Internet was still years away from being adopted; gay marriage was seen as a political impossibility; and the average American, though hard working, was able to make ends meet even in a healthy middle class.

Today, our cultural, political, and economic realities are vastly different.

While progress has been made, as in the case of gay rights and our technological capabilities, there are other areas where we've regressed.

Now it's unlikely that a constitutional convention will solve all of our ills, but it could be a good start to getting Rhode Island back on the right track.

Let's end this long campaign by casting a light at the end of the tunnel.

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