Prior to this editorial position, I had been a professional writer for a couple of decades. Having previously written business profiles, radio commercials, trade magazine articles and a graduate thesis, I had never fully realized the amount of discourse that could be cultivated from my scribbles on a page until I had this job.
After three years of having the opportunity to author this column, I am gratified that my columns have been able to spark conversations.
Sometimes, I have received negative feedback from readers by those who do not share my political opinions. Sometimes, I have seen reactions that were generally supportive of my conclusions. And, on rare heartening occasions, I have heard from readers who expressed that I helped them look at an issue with a more enlightened vision. Those communications most justified the voluminous research and many rewrites that are the core of the laborious writing process.
Of course, there are those who are vehement in their opposition to my standpoints. Especially when I critique the current president or the incumbent governor, I have received condemning and, at times, threatening backlashes. Rather than debating assertions, some respondents wish to attempt to categorize this writer as “liberal” or “progressively biased” or the exact opposite paradigm if those designations served their criticism of my work. Not only are these erroneous presumptions of my political character, they are often unduly malevolent.
Nevertheless, this year we have communicated on a myriad of interesting issues, had numerous discussions through the paper, Facebook, emails and the Beacon Communications websites. Further, some intense readers have called me directly or sought me at my business to make their criticisms emphatically known.
So let’s examine the columns this year that have generated the most reader responses. Hopefully through this introspection I can learn to be a better writer, which is always my ongoing goal. And perhaps you can become a more acute scrutinizer of garrulous columnists like myself.
In January, I received the most reactions from a column titled “Goodbye 44, Hope and Change or Socialism and Missteps.” This piece was obviously an examination of Barack Obama on his way out the door. I never found the 44th president of the United States to be a particularly effective leader. He seemed to be out of his element often. Although he was undeniably an uproarious speechmaker, he lacked the ability to gain compromise with the legislative branch of government. Also, he often came across as an elite, effete, condescending professor. Generally, I asserted he was a lackluster president.
Obama supporters hurled accusations of prejudice against me for my impression of Mr. Obama. My deductions regarding the quality of the 44th president’s tenure in office had to do with administrative abilities. No essence of bigotry was behind any of my opinions.
Also in January, I wrote about the General Assembly on Smith Hill in “Promises, Promises, and High Aspirations.” In my presentation, I discussed the validity of the stated priorities of key members. Additionally, I once again wrote about how the format of the part-time bicameral legislature does not serve the citizens efficiently. Sadly, most of my prognostications came to fruition and, when the session ended in the summer, once again the voice of the people was not adequately heard.
In February, I wrote about President Trump’s wide-wheeling executive order signings with “The Pen is Mightier than the Sword in the hands of Trump.” I though it odd that, on the campaign trail, Trump was ultra-critical of Barack Obama’s free use of the executive pen. Yet, shortly after his inaugural, President Trump signed an onslaught of orders rescinding the intentions of his predecessor and serving conservative special interests. Respondents skewered me for pointing this out. I could not understand why a circumvention of the legislative process was frowned upon with Obama but was given license with Trump.
Speaking of onslaughts, I receive a high volume of responses from the editorial titled “Offering a Free Education to Anyone Who Can sit at a Desk is a Ludicrous Waste of Taxpayer Money.” This piece was in regard to the politically opportunistic idea of providing free community college education for students, regardless of financial status or academic record. Governor Gina Raimondo, in her eternal marketing mindset, pushed this issue and was often photographed with children that depicted her as their personal savior.
Gina was trying to emulate New York State Governor Cuomo to gain political hay. Eventually, a watered-down version of her original proposal did indeed pass the General Assembly. Overwhelmingly, respondents were against this plan and saw the effort as strictly a political stunt.
This wariness about the intentions of the governor was put under a microscope in “At Mid-Point: Is Gina Real Deal or Great Pretender.”
Most communicators in response to the article felt that Gina was a Machiavellian figure who was opportunistic and insincere. I tried to be informational in regard to what could be considered accomplishments. However, my fellow citizens were not that charitable. One of the responding Raimondo supporters said I was “a biased far right conservative” Again I find this assail and categorization of me perplexing. Since the critique was issue-based and substantiated by the facts.
In late March, I penned “Cogent Issues and Our Cumbersome Government.” I examined the proposed legislations on Smith Hill and the characters involved. As always, I could not help myself from commenting on the self-defeating structure of Rhode Island’s government. I received an elongated email from a representative who defended the purity of purpose and “amazing successes” of the House. This particular rep is a staunch unionist. That correspondence did more to convince me that some people on the hill live in a fantasy world of surrealistic proficiency.
In May I felt the hatred from Trump proponents when I wrote “Failure to Launch, Trump’s first 100 Days.” I merely compared Trump’s lack of success in the first 100 days of service with other presidents. Further, I examined the lack of professionalism in his cabinet members and inner circle comparatively to past cabinets. Despite the fairness I believe I had in mind while writing the piece, I actually received threats on my person from expressing my opinion. Those challenges further cemented my opinion that many Trump enthusiasts are myopic and imbue Trump with positive characteristics he does not necessarily possess.
Also in May, I received a lot of agreement when I wrote “Take Me Out to the Ballgame…as Long as You’re Paying for it.” This article was an intensive examination of the latest incarnation of the Pawsox Stadium Deal. The overriding response was a giant “No” to any way, shape, or form of a private/public partnership to build the stadium. Just like the Bridge Tolling, the people do not want this project. Even so, it seems eventually the stadium project may come to pass with the help of an indifferent General Assembly.
In July, “Political Categorizations and the Concept of Fake News” stirred the pot with Trump followers. President Trump condemns credible news sources, despite their traditions of accuracy, as “Fake News” if they cross-grain with his intentions. His supporters have accepted this odd turn of reality. Of course, all internet sources and social media sources should be questioned for validity. However, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, should be considered credible news sources. Yet, Mr. Trump and his followers have assigned the label of fake news to these venerable pillars of the fourth estate.
I was called “blind and crazy” for not admitting the Washington Post was merely sinister propaganda and therefore fake news.
The greatest response I have received this year was in reaction to an October editorial titled “Weinstein, Tanzi, Milano, and defining Sexual Harassment.” I attempted to illustrate the repugnant perpetrators of this act of devilment are different from an office co-worker’s attempts at awkward humor. I presented that I believe the line of demarcation from silliness nuanced with sexuality (a bad joke) is markedly different from the cads and bounders of the world with heinous intent. With more revelations arising every day, I believe society needs stable definitions and guidelines so men understand what is appropriate. Being a gentleman does not seem to be enough. Most women respondents thought I was dense in my conclusions. Most men related incidences where what they did in the past was misinterpreted.
In conclusion, as someone who loves the written word and great discourse on public issues, writing this column is a path of enrichment. I offer the most sincere tidings of gratitude to my strongest critics, my most ardent readers and those who do not comment but find something worth reading in my scribbles on a weekly basis.
Merry Christmas and thanks!