Poli-ticks

Arlene Violet: Winners and losers in 2020 election

By Arlene Violet
Posted 11/12/20

The verdict is in. The U.S.A. is a winner with its record ballot turnout by mail and in person despite obstacles to voting, including the ever-lurking coronavirus. The election of President-elect …

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Poli-ticks

Arlene Violet: Winners and losers in 2020 election

Posted

The verdict is in. The U.S.A. is a winner with its record ballot turnout by mail and in person despite obstacles to voting, including the ever-lurking coronavirus. The election of President-elect Joseph Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris also made history with the selection of a woman for high office, about 100 years after women had the right to vote. The country, nonetheless, also took a hit when Donald Trump took to the airwaves claiming he had won the election despite millions of votes yet to be counted and when he continued to plant the notion that illegal voting had taken place and would continue by ballot manipulation. He rained on the parade by his unverified accusations on an election which should have been celebrated as a pristine exercise of citizenry. Make no mistake about it. The incumbent most certainly should take any legal means he has to challenge the election. Mistakes happen. Unforced errors, however, are a far cry from fraud. If mistakes alone were actionable, far too many of us would be in the hoosegow.

Rhode Island also emerged as a winner with its record voting. In a hallmark race, RI House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello conceded defeat to Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung. Ms. Fung preserved the total of House Republicans. Mr. Mattiello’s defeat may mean the cessation of his chief issue, i.e. the phase out of the car tax which would make car owners the losers.
House Speaker-elect Joe Shekarchi is poised to become the leader of the RI House. He has a history of being able to schmooze with many Representatives, including the progressive wing of his party as well as with Republicans. The full House must still vote on his selection.

Speaking of progressives, I consider them winners for continuing to increase their presence on Smith Hill. This wing of the Democratic Party was able to field 24 candidates for statewide office, 10 for the Senate and seven for the House of Representatives. At least 5 candidates in the House and 5 in the Senate have been added to the roster. That is a yeoman's task for the new organization which was founded in 2019. The environment is also a winner since global warming and its remediation is a major platform for the progressive democrats. These members will be positioned to wrangle concessions on social issues.

With the removal of “Providence Plantations” from the name of the state, racial harmony notched a victory. Yes, the meaning was different back in the founding of the state but there were slaves on those farms and unfolding history has amplified the discordance of the use of the term. It’s good that it is excised.

No discussion of winners and losers in Rhode Island would be complete without an analysis of how the Republicans performed during the election. Pre- election, 9 Republicans held House seats with 5 in the Senate. The party kept a seat in the House with Fenton-Fung’s victory (Giarrusso lost) and added (Patricia Morgan). The Senate stayed at five.
Now begins the hard task of governing. The winners will only ultimately be successful if they do what is good for the public. As a sage once said, ”Let us recognize that we don’t serve an ideology, we serve the people.” (John Lynch)

Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.

Arlene Violet

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