THE BLOG
07/24/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Rhode Islander Swing State Envy

I'm from Rhode Island, the smallest state in the Union and the last to ratify the Constitution. We never swallowed the 18th Amendment and continued to sell beer on its medicinal merits until Prohibition was repealed. You can have Dana Perino. That's what I call spin. Before the Revolution, we took the first poke at Old Blighty in 1772 by luring a British tax ship, called the Gaspee, into shallow waters, where it was burned to the water line. It sounds noble enough, but that halting and better publicized round later fired at Lexington and Concord still feeds the tourist coffers in neighboring Massachusetts.

It's high summer and I am already in the early stages of Swing State Envy. This malady was first diagnosed when it was decided that Little Rhody would carry only four electoral votes into the quadrennial death cage match that is the presidential election. You could call Rhode Island a kind of civic corruption starter kit. A good public official is one who when you buy him, he stays bought. We are corruption rich but electoral vote poor. To go with the usual graft, we had a state representative arrested for shop lifting. He was caught with a sock full of condoms. (Insert your own joke here) We have officials who have voted by sticking a match in the machine so they can grab a smoke outside during the actual proceedings. A few years ago, 49 percent of public officials ran unopposed.

We have a 7.2 unemployment rate, a laughable accent and a dubious national spokesman in the form of Peter Griffin. Freakin' sweet! Just once, I want to be fawned over like the Pennsylvanias, Ohios and Michigans of the world. I want to be accosted by a wooden candidate with a clammy handshake in my local diner. I'll even throw on my favorite flannel shirt and a John Deere baseball cap to complete the tableau. A gentleman never tells, but I haven't been polled since 1996.

Like a loyal pet with an indifferent owner, this 13th Colony is taken for granted by our federal overlords. 85 percent of the state government is Democratic. The toothless Republican Party only shows up so the leather in the seats wears evenly. The GOP governor has no actual authority and power is concentrated in the hands of five men. We are the bluest of the Blue states and dog loyal but our fistful of votes is an afterthought compared to the mighty Battleground States.

Our governor, Don Carcieri, appeared on the O'Reilly Factor last week to discuss immigration. Carcieri has ordered every police force in Rhode Island to check the immigration status of everyone who is stopped or arrested. The mayor of Providence, David Cicilline, has refused to comply. "Why don't you get the state police in there and arrest him?" roared the ever diplomatic O'Reilly. "I certainly would like to," smiled the governor. This is the same man who is reducing the state's 600 million dollar deficit on the backs of children, the elderly, the unemployed and the homeless.

In our quest for political relevance, I declare that venerable old Rhode Island should close up shop and court an eager new suitor. I got four electoral votes right here... Who needs 'em? Four electoral votes, obstructed view on the third base line? By walking into a larger tent, we can buy some cache' and retire the deficit in one fell swoop.

They like things big in Texas, right? On the roof of New England Pest Control sits the largest termite in the world, a monster named, Nibbles Woodaway. If that passes muster in the Lone Star State, we can give Texas an East Coast outpost while creating a combined Rhode Island-Texas accent. That's worth one story on CNN anyway.

Thomas Jefferson once credited Rhode Island founder Roger Williams as the inspiration behind the First Amendment. Williams, a minister who was hounded from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and labeled a heretic, founded Rhode Island on the twin principles of religious and political freedom. Maybe we can hang out our new shingle in Virginia. I have never eaten a bowl of grits but I'm willing to try.

To any other state looking for four additional electoral votes to burnish its credentials in 2012, we offer a handful of illustrious Rhode Island natives to sweeten the deal. They include George M. Cohan, Meredith Vieira, Spaulding Gray and Nap Lajoie, the first American League batting champ and member of the Hall of Fame. Rhode Islander Nathanial Greene was second in command to George Washington and Esek Hopkins was the first commander of the Continental Navy. For national credibility, you can't lose with those last two guys.

My final appeal in curing our Swing State Envy involves a radical cure and it may take the better part of this new century to execute. Rhode Island, with our weighty four electoral votes, can simply annex every state with even fewer votes then we have. Alaska, Delaware, D.C., Montana, North and South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming, step to the front of the room, please. Our new Super State will boast a combined 28 electoral votes. Since we outrank the rest of you by one vote, the capitol of this new state will be located in present day Rhode Island.

I await the candidates of 2012 at my local diner. I don't know what we'll call the new place yet. I can't think of everything.

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