Randall Jackvony: “Waiting on a ‘Relevant’ Person”
In one of my recent columns for the Cranston Herald, I discussed nappylies.com, a site the Cranston GOP has to highlight the record of Cranston Mayor Michael Napolitano. For input on the tone of politics in the Internet age, I talked with Justin Katz.
As I mention in my column, Justin’s responses to my questions made me think about things in a different light, especially the idea of a “just anger” in political speech. In Cranston, we have seen both just and self-serving anger in the past. This was particularly acute during the last five years of financial turmoil. The “self serving” anger I witnessed has colored my thinking, and sometimes I forget that judiciously used anger can be a powerful tool. As Justin told me, “If a generally mild and considered commenter reacts acerbically to something in particular, the biting nature of the response has some power.” Very true. However, I think if it is overused, just anger can lose it effectiveness.
He posted an entry on Anchor Rising in response to my piece, which I didn’t come across until a couple of weeks later. The post and the subsequent comments both amused and perplexed me. As Will said, he and I have never met (to my knowledge), but he speaks like I (as a Republican who is somewhat informed of party politics) should know who he is. Perhaps if he listed his last name, I may be able to recall him.
Nonetheless, I suspect he may be part of a group of Republicans who want to enforce ideological purity or blind faith in one man as a litmus test as to whether someone is eligible to participate in the party or not. Certainly, there has to be some commonality under the GOP tent. Further, I understand and respect that some people don’t want to lend their electoral support to someone they see as too moderate. However, when it comes to moving the party forward, the Republicans need to keep the big tent ideal. The attitude of some of the aforementioned group of Republicans, at times, reminds me of — borrowing from the Vietnam era phrase — having “to burn the village to save it.” Or in this case, burning the tent.
The next RIGOP meeting you attend, take notice. There are people there who interrupt and shout down others who disagree with them. Bullying, insulting, and demeaning people because they disagree with you doesn’t help your cause. Plus, it won’t build a strong party and is certainly is not a way to change the state.
Will is certainly correct regarding my recent non-participation in GOP politics. However, I’m sure he has no true sense of why I don’t participate. While he has no reason to know any more, I’m sure his knowledge of my politics doesn’t go any deeper than my disagreements with former Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey. Will, I don’t know the intricacies of your politics, but we probably agree on most things.
However, I am even more concerned for the future of the party if Will’s opinions regarding “relevancy” are taking root in the party. The Republicans should be willing to consider a newcomer who is genuinely willing to give of his or her time to do what is right for the state as “relevant.”
Perhaps that’s the problem. Are some Republicans waiting for one “relevant” person to come along and magically change things? That has not worked in the past and won’t in the future. Perhaps Will is part of the group that sees Steve Laffey as that person. Well, the success of his methodology can be seen by the state of GOP electoral success in Cranston.
The GOP would be more successful in the long term concentrating on school committee and municipal councils. Build up a strong, viable, and respected farm team. Higher offices will (eventually) take care of themselves, because they will be fed by that team.
The party needs to convince concerned — and yes, maybe irrelevant — people to participate and run for office. Plus, they need to know: You may have to run a couple of times to succeed.
The party needs a simple message that is repeated over and over to make people get it. It will be sickening to people who follow politics, but it’s what is needed for taxpayers who are too busy living their lives to pay close attention. That message should something like: A one-party system doesn’t work; it breeds waste and corruption and costs you a lot of money. Elect Republicans to bring a balance and fix our state’s problems.