Jeffrey Deckman: A Clarification
I noticed some confusion surrounding my recent remarks pertaining to the distinctions between the RISC Business Network and the Tea Party.
Unfortunately, communications in, and with, the media require a level of forced brevity at times. I appreciate the opportunity to provide some clarification on my statements.
My point is this: The Tea Party has been highly effective at mobilizing people and helping them to get in the political debate as individuals. My understanding is that they educate folks on what is going on and assists them to get their message out and for it to be heard loud and clear. For that they are to be commended for playing a role in helping people to become more involved in the political process. I think any group with any political leanings who accomplishes this task is doing something good for the people and for our state. I also believe they will be an effective force in helping to increase voter turn out, which is also a good thing Rhode Island.
However, where they differ from the RISC Business Network (not to be confused with RISC, the umbrella organization) is that their effort is primarily focused upon energizing the individual, whereas the RISC Business Network is a multi-partisan effort focused specifically upon the owners of small and medium-sized businesses. Business owners have a different set of concerns than do non–business owners. While they have much common ground with the average taxpayer, their specific interests extend into other areas. So the RISC Business Network is designed to address the needs of that specific constituency.
Another area in which I see a distinction between the two efforts is that any candidates who would like to engage us will be vetted on several levels to determine if they are pro-business and the likelihood of their being able to run competitive campaigns. If they become “investment grade” candidates, we will make that information available to the small business community.
The next step in our process is that we are also galvanizing the small business community and encouraging them to make pledges of support to candidates whom they agree are worthy. It is reasonable to think that some of the candidates they support will be on our list and some may not be. But as long as small business owners are more engaged in the process, we feel the result will be more pro-business candidates’ being elected to the General Assembly.
In this capacity, we are a conduit for information to flow between candidates and “funders,” which should result in well-funded campaigns for pro–small business candidates.
The final distinction I will make is that our group is narrowly focused on the General Assembly. The Tea Party movement addresses issues on a much wider scale. They are heavily involved in national issues and the Congressional races as well as statewide issues, and I am assuming they may be involved in local matters that are of concern to them.
So, while the Tea Party may also be affecting elections, it will be using a different model, will be focused on races on different levels of government, and is focused on mobilizing individuals first, whereas we are focused upon those who own small businesses in Rhode Island and the General Assembly races.