The first month of the 2013 season seems too good to be true. As a lifelong Red Sox devotee, I’m writing this knocking on wood with crossed fingers hoping that my mention of their good play doesn’t lead to a string of losses or a rash of injuries. The difference between last year’s team – where the players seemed to be punching a clock rather than playing a child’s game – is stark. The dugout is filled with unfamiliar faces and the only source for anxiety is that the eager guys on the bench aren’t getting enough playing time. This is a far cry from the “can’t play today, I have a hangnail” mantra that we’ve seen in recent years – they are excited to go out there and compete every day as a team.
The same-sex marriage debate highlighted another unexpected winning team – the RI Republican Senate caucus. I hope others noted that the “Mighty Five” voted as a bloc to approve passage of same sex marriage. This is remarkable for a few reasons. They are the first legislative caucus from any party to vote unanimously to approve same sex marriage in any state. And of course, since Republicans are usually given the broad-brush mischaracterization of being “social conservatives,” their position on same sex marriage may have surprised and educated some. Senator Dawson Hodgson shared, “Our vote reflects a consistent application of conservative principles across fiscal and social issues: freedom, dignity, rule of law, and limiting government interference in your life are very Republican ideals.” By locking arms and voting together, it’s clear that at least this slice of the Rhode Island GOP is more the party of Lincoln and less the party of Boehner.
While they used much less colorful language, the RI Republican Senate caucus vote for marriage equality was their Big Papi “this is our (expletive) city” moment. They took an opportunity to define their values and their space (albeit small) in the political spectrum and are certainly advertising a “big tent” party. With public opinion favoring same sex marriage, it is unlikely that any of these Senators would lose his seat based on this one vote. By supporting marriage equality the caucus has the opportunity to be relevant again by attracting more fiscal conservatives with moderate social views and winning seats.
While Big Papi’s sentiments lifted a city and inspired a new team of Dirt Dogs, only time will tell if the solidarity shown by the Mighty Five will help their team grow and be more relevant, but they’ve given themselves a fighting chance.