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.