Don Roach: RI GOP Gun Raffle Shows Moxie
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
So it may as a surprise to some that I would like to lend my support of the RI GOPs raffle this past Sunday that included a raffle of gun similar to the one used in the Newtown shootings. The decision to include the gun has been called “tone deaf” by our Republican turned Independent turned Democrat governor and even some current Republicans have questioned the thought behind the gun’s inclusion within the raffle.
Fail fast and push the envelope
As a rule, I believe one isn’t able to make progress without taking some risks. If it’s safe, it’s not pushing change and in attempting to make change you might drop a football or two. But, in order to be successful fear cannot be a factor. In practical terms, if Republicans hope to win a majority of the seats in the General Assembly, they need a proactive strategy and not one that reacts to “how bad the Democrats are”. They need to put themselves out there and do things that seem counterintuitive because the intuitive decisions of the last 15-20 years haven’t worked.
And that’s why I like the idea behind the raffle. While it seems Republican leadership didn’t foresee the potential backlash, they were trying to speak to a segment of the Republican population, grab their attention, and get their butts in attendance at the fundraiser. Previous RI GOP regimes, in my opinion, wouldn’t have done this and instead would have relied on the tried and (falsely alleged) true methods of complaining about Democrats while they internally implode.
This incident shows that Chairman Smiley is making good on his promise to do things differently and try new concepts. Some may work, some may fail. But the RI GOP has been inexorably unsuccessful in recent memory so it’s refreshing to me to see them attempting new things.
Internal Implosion still the name of the game
In communication with Chairman Smiley this week, I compared the negative effects of a public spat between RI GOPers to parents disrespectfully arguing with one another in front of their kids. Kids, by virtue of not knowing anything about the world, are looking for leadership and they naturally look at their parents. When life situations occur if those parents are on different pages and don’t respectfully work it out in front of their kids, the kids learn that they can play one parent off the other and lose that trust in the leadership of their parents. Ultimately, the kids lose respect for both parents irrespective if one of the parents is “right” about whatever issue is going on.
I’m not suggesting the Rhode Island electorate are children but I am saying that voters are looking for leadership and part of leadership is keeping your crap in-house. While I’m applauding our leadership for coming with an idea that’s a little outside the box, I’m not particarly fond of some of the responses I’ve read over the past few days.
There were comments from some talking about being asked not to participate in the RI GOP (how is this even relevant to the current situation??)
Others agreed with RI GOP’s position. Still other members of the party openly questioned the motives behind the raffle. All of this played out in the public square.
Many Rhode Island voters read this column weekly, and I ask you did the public sparring inspire confidence in the RI GOP? Probably not and this has to stop.
Why doesn’t it stop?
The RI GOP is a relatively divided organization that hasn’t yet found its rhythm. Some might argue that it has no rhythm, but that’s for another day. The truth of the matter is that the people of Rhode Island aren’t going to trust us as a party until we “act like we got some sense” as my aunts and uncles used to me and my cousins when we were kids.
Look – I know many people found raffling the gun offensive, some didn’t care, and some were excited about it. Life is full of situations where people have different opinions. But, think about it yourself, aren’t you more willing to put your trust in someone who is going at least listen to others opinions before spewing off at the mouth?
So why can’t we RI GOPers do that? If I had the answer to that, I’d be a rich man. What I will say is that I’m glad to see RI GOP leadership taking chances and trying to make moves towards moving the party towards respectability.
I’m just going to ask my fellow GOPers to tone down the rhetoric against one another. If we want to take anything from Governor Chafee’s “tone deaf” comment, let’s not be ignorant about what the voters of RI want and let’s start to put together an agenda and marketing package that they can get behind.
Don Roach can be reached at email@example.com.
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