Loughlin: RI GOP Must Do Better Articulating Fundamental Beliefs

We’ve talked A LOT about the direction of the RI GOP around here (scroll down to the bottom and start reading). Now State Rep. John Loughlin is wading in with his two cents. First, he thinks that everyone is spending too much time worrying about party structure and political tactics and “ignoring the fundamental question: What does it mean to be a Republican in Rhode Island?” His answer:

I believe that, simply put, Rhode Island Republicans share a set of core principles that deserve to be articulated in public discourse. While there are many differences on the specifics of policy, Republicanism, I believe, shares the following things, among others, that differentiate us from our Democratic colleagues.
Rhode Island Republicans believe in a limited government grounded in constitutional principles. We believe in the free-enterprise system and the encouragement of individual initiative. We hold dear the principles embodied in the U.S. Constitution, that the powers of government are derived from the consent of the governed, and the rule of law.
In Rhode Island, this means we stand in opposition to the expansion of government, and more importantly, in opposition to the growing burdens on individual prosperity cause by excessive taxation. That would put us squarely in opposition to the expansion of public-sector unions, and the creation of ever more publicly-funded “programs.” We believe that it is only through the expansion of economic opportunity in Rhode Island that all of us will enjoy greater prosperity.

So far, so good, and after a bit about the “ever-escalating tax burden and its ringleader, the real-estate property tax,” he continues with his list:

Next, Republicans support the protection of individual liberty. In Abraham Lincoln’s day, that meant opposition to slavery. Rhode Island Republicans to this day continue to work for the equality, opportunity and rights of all citizens. This manifests itself in our opposition to special insider deals designed to enrich special interests.
Lastly, Rhode Island Republicans believe in protecting our environment. In the Ocean State that means an unbending commitment to preserving our surroundings. We know that a healthy environment and a sound economy are both essential to our state’s prosperity. We believe that by working together, we can preserve both our environment and our economy for current and future generations of Rhode Islanders. In Rhode Island we enjoy a very special and fragile beauty in our environment. We support the various land trusts and private-public partnerships whose mission is to encourage the protection and preservation of open space.

That’s about right and probably a solid set of core values on which the RI GOP can rebuild. In fact, it’s essentially what’s been talked about around here for a couple months now (I guess Rep. Loughlin doesn’t read blogs). For instance, after the election, I wrote a whole series on the question of rebuilding the RI GOP, which included both philosophical and tactical points and which received heavy, and fruitful, commentary.
One final note: I did notice that Rep. Loughlin clearly stayed away from including any position on social issues in his laundry list. Both Justin and I have written about this rhetorical hole before (Justin does it better, by the way) so I want belabor it. So, insofar as Rep. Loughlin is attempting to define those basic ideas on which a RI GOP coalition–made up of libertarians, moderates and conservatives–can agree (something Jon Scott has also done, incidentally), I would say he has made a good start. We’ll see what happens in the coming months.

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SeanO
SeanO
14 years ago

R.I. Republicans always UNDER-estimate the importance of attracting social conservatives to our party. Until we engage this group, R.I. Republicans will remain mired in minority.

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
14 years ago

Not just social conservatives, but conservatives of all stripes.
The forty year experiment of Chafee-“moderate” Republicanism – i.e., “we’re essentially Democrats too, only less corrupt” – has only resulted in an ever-declining Republican presence in RI.
The Chafees and their sycophants have been a disaster. Last November’s debacle was not an anomaly, but the inevitable conclusion.
It’s time for the RIGOP to once again become a REPUBLICAN party, not the Chafee Party.

Anthony
Anthony
14 years ago

The Chafee Party?!?! Get over it. Chafee lost and isn’t a factor.
So what do we have nearly three months after the elections?
A total void in the RI GOP that is operating without a chairperson. Patricia Morgan has cashed out (I can’t blame her after she was forced to resigned) with apparently no credible replacement lined up.
Republicans publicly hand-wringing over the state of the party.
Oh and, “conservative” Steve Laffey is now supporting pro-choice, self-proclaimed “extremely moderate” Rudy Giuliani.
I don’t believe that Chafee ever “controlled” the RI GOP. But I have to say, now that Chafee is gone, I haven’t seen anything in the RI GOP over the past three months to make me think that the alternative is any better.
It’s gone from bad to worse to virtually non-existent.

ralph
ralph
14 years ago

>>Oh and, “conservative” Steve Laffey is now supporting pro-choice, self-proclaimed “extremely moderate” Rudy Giuliani.
They agree on illegal immigration, A. That’s what counts.

SusanD
SusanD
14 years ago

At the risk of breaking the mood with a modicum of good news, the January meeting of the RIGOP was standing room only and the most recent South County Breakfast meeting was also very well attended.
If the GOP in RI is non-existent, no one told rank and file Republicans.

Anthony
Anthony
14 years ago

Ahh yes, because immigration is the biggest issue facing the country. Get real. Laffey’s position on immigration changed over the course of a few months, so if that’s the reason he’s attracted to Giuliani, it’s laughable.
Here’s the real deal. McCain and Giuliani are the leading GOP contenders. McCain already had leadership in the state with Bob Watson and crew in charge, so Laffey went to Giuliani. If Giuliani had an operation, you can bet Laffey would be with McCain.
Look I like most of the GOP contenders out there. But the assertion that Laffey supports Giuliani because of one conservative position on immigration is laughable.
Susan D, there might be a lot of people showing up to eat breakfast, but I’ve seen very little RI GOP visibility on some of the biggest issues out there: Celona’s situation, the state’s deficit, Montalbano, taxes.
I applaud guys like Deckman and Loughlin getting out there and making recommendations on how to improve the party.
But at some point, the words need to become actions.

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