Whether by curiosity or because you are moving you or your family to Providence, Rhode Island, you may be wondering what the political climate of Providence, Rhode Island is like. Rhode Island is very commonly a blue state, but what about the city of Providence?
Providence, like most of the small state of Rhode Island, is an overwhelmingly liberal city. Not only do the residents vote primarily for democratic candidates and policies at elections, but the state capital embraces democratic and liberal-leaning values.
If you want to know more about Providence, the political climate, what it exactly means to be a liberal city, and what makes Providence liberal, keep reading!
What Makes a Liberal City?
Liberalism is a philosophy, often aligned with democratic views, that favors individualism, especially when it comes to individual rights and opportunity. It embraces diversity, especially in race, ethnicity, religion, culture, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression. Liberalism also adopts environmentalism among other liberal ideologies.
Much like conservatism, liberalism is a political view of the world, how that government should be run, and how people should or should not be treated, but the focus is more on regulating people while also supporting individual choices that don’t seemingly have any effect on others.
A liberal city is going to embrace the various experiences of its people and help to create an environment and community in which all of these people feel welcome and accepted. They will also regulate waste and emissions and make changes to reduce the effect of climate change. Also, it should be noted that a more obvious quality of a liberal city is its habit of voting blue (democrat) in state and federal elections.
Providence at the Polls
As of the 2020 presidential election, Providence, Rhode Island voted moderately liberal. This includes not only the presidential candidates but state representatives as well as state and federal policies and regulations.
Providence and its surrounding cities throughout Providence County’s voting habits in the last election lean far to the left, but only so far as to make them moderately liberal. A larger city, which has a more diverse range of people, is more likely to vote moderately liberal than far left, and Providence is no exception.
In 2020, a majority of people in Providence County voted for democratic candidates and policies, exactly 60.5%. On the other hand, 37.6% voted republican, leaving 1.9% who voted for the independent party. The percentage of people who voted democrat is more than the United States average, and the percentage of people who voted republican is less than the United States average.
Providence, being the largest city in Rhode Island by population, heavily impacts the state’s popular vote each election, so if the state votes blue, as it has during every election since 1988, it is highly likely that Providence also voted blue.
As mentioned earlier, Rhode Island has been a blue state since 1988, and with Providence being the most populated city in Rhode Island, this city heavily impacts which direction the state is going to lean. While there has been some fluctuation in percentages since 2000, for example, the ratio of Democratic voters to Republican voters was much closer in 2012 than during the 2020 election.
Even before the 1988 election, the democratic party nearly always seems to come on top, with only a couple of exceptions. In 1984, the parties were a near tie, with the Republican candidate winning Rhode Island by a mere 51.7%. In 1972, Rhode Island became a red state by a close 53%, which means Rhode Island has only been a red state twice since 1960, and in those 2 years, the Republicans barely earned more votes than the Democrat candidate.
Protests and Public Political Displays
One visual way to tell whether a city is liberal or conservative is to look into the protests that occur downtown, particularly near the capital building if the city is a state capital. Especially in recent years, most political protests have been formed in support of liberal ideologies or as an outraged response to court rulings or elections that support far-right conservative ideologies.
One of the most recent political protests, as of August 2022, was in response to the United States Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. Outraged women formed a protest in an attempt to bring awareness to this overturning and to incite change, strongly demonstrating their liberal values and ideologies. Multiple protests regarding the overturning of Roe v Wade occurred in Providence.
Along with political protests demonstrating a city’s strong leaning toward the left or the right is public political displays to express a view, often with the use of art in exhibitions. A popular attraction to visitors and residents in Providence is the I.M.A.G.I.N.E.s Peace Art Exhibition, in which Metal Artists have created political statements out of metal for the public to observe and talk about. Many of these political pieces advocate for gun restrictions and bring attention to the consequences of not having these restrictions, further demonstrating liberal values.
Diversity and Inclusion
While many large cities around the U.S. have a population of 75% or more of White Non-Hispanic people, they only make up 33.1% of the population in Providence. The remaining percentage is broken up more evenly between races and ethnicities, making it one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States. Oftentimes, ethnic diversity comes with more diversity in political views, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender expression, and life experiences because the city isn’t mostly made up of the same group of people.
A non-profit organization called Rhode Island Pride often hosts pride parades and events in Providence, celebrating the diversity in gender identity and sexual orientation in Rhode Island. The biggest pride parade is held each year during pride month in June. This shows the city’s focus on inclusivity and providing a safe space for people of all orientations and identities to express themselves.
The LGBTQ+ community in Rhode Island, particularly Providence, has showcased its pride for several years, putting this in full force in 1976 when 75 people marched outside the city capitol building in protest of the city refusing to give them a permit to host a pride march. While these 75 people received a lot of hate, knowing this began the annual pride marches and parades of thousands of people today, goes to show the city people’s embrace of inclusivity and showing pride for who they are.
Providence as a Liberal City
Providence not only votes primarily democrat, but it puts liberal ideas and values into practice. Seeing as Providence showcases its pride and inclusivity of various gender identities and sexual orientations, as well as its advocacy for liberal ideologies and values, especially in public displays of art and protests, you can see why Rhode Island and Providence especially would be considered liberal.
Another quality of a liberal city is its push to protect the environment and its inhabitants. Oftentimes, these protection regulations advocate for clean air and water, as well as protect wildlife and their natural environments. The city of Providence has recently released a climate justice plan for “creating an equitable, low-carbon, and climate-resilient future” for its residents. The plan details what the city will do to reduce carbon emissions from buildings and transportation devices and how best the city can begin to transition away from the use of fossil fuels.
The plan also highlights what the city has already done to help improve and preserve the natural environment throughout and surrounding Providence, as well as to reduce climate pollution. This shows not only that the city has begun making positive environmental changes but also has a plan to continue making those changes. These are all things that liberal parties advocate for, as they value the environment and put effort into preserving it.
The city of Providence has an active community that advocates for environmental preservation changes. These changes include protecting national parks, bringing awareness to methane gas leaks in pipelines and the public health risk, and protecting endangered wildlife species.
One of the biggest indications of a city’s political climate and political leaning is the political party of the city’s current mayor. The mayor is who enacts major decisions for the city, including environmental preservation, the embrace of diversity and inclusion, as well as various city regulations for its businesses, organizations, and its people.
The current mayor of Providence, Rhode Island is Jorge Elorza, who was born in Providence and is a member of the democratic party. That said, it can rightfully be assumed that many of the changes or regulations by the city, enacted by the mayor, are going to lean more towards democratic ideologies and support liberal values.
Overall, Providence, Rhode Island is a very liberal city, and the residents rarely vote for Republican candidates during elections. It has happened in the past, but it has only happened a few times since Rhode Island was made a state. However, no matter if you are liberal or conservative, you will be able to find people who have the same ideals as you.