Picking Up the Pieces
In 2007, the Boston Red Sox were World Champions. Even late in 2011, they were the World Series favorites and the best team in baseball. Then the floor fell out from under them and last year, they were an embarrassment to the history of the franchise.
Well, it’s not like the RI GOP has recently been the equivalent of World Champions, but I think it’s safe to say that the floor fell out on election night. The Democrats executed their strategy to near perfection. Not only did they re-take the White House, they swept their three contested RI federal races but they also increased their dominance in the State House. How is this even possible?
Maybe we need to get back to that baseball analogy. It’s all about development of talent and promoting the best. That’s where the Democrats get it right. They build from within, from the ground up.
Where did David Cicilline come from? He got elected to the RI State House, then Mayor, then Congress. Jim Langevin, started by getting elected to a Constitutional Convention, then to a seat in the State House, Secretary of State and then to Congress. Jack Reed served in the RI Senate, then to Congress and then to US Senate. Let’s look at another example that’s local to me. My current State Representative is Karen MacBeth. She got started by getting elected to the Cumberland School Committee, then to the Town Council and then to the State House.
Are you seeing a pattern yet?
Now this isn’t anything against Brendan Doherty, Barry Hinckley or Mike Riley. Those three stepped up when others didn’t. This isn’t on them. But look at their political background and see how it differs from the incumbents? This is like trying to jump from the sandlots to major league baseball. It takes time and development to learn this game.
The GOP just got absolutely kicked in the mouth in a year when Rhode Island is at the bottom of just about every possible economic indicator. If the Republicans can’t make gains in 2012, never mind to lose seats, then clearly there’s something very, very wrong. Every single state Republican from the top down needs to take a hard look in the mirror and re-evaluate.
This is where the state GOP needs to do their work. It needs to cultivate local. Build up from the local councils. When the Republicans do get someone in higher seats, even if it’s at the State House, they need to start grooming their own replacements. What the GOP doesn’t need is for people to sit comfortably in those seats for ten or twenty years.
Move up or move out.
If someone’s been at the State House for even six years, it’s time to start looking at moving up. If they’re happy to just be going up to Smith Hill every year, casting the opposition votes, ranting a little bit from time to time, they’re not really helping anyone. If they want to help, they’ll cultivate their own replacement in their district and mentor someone locally. Help fresh-faced budding politicians get elected to the school committee or city council. Groom them to take your seat one day. Show them the ropes and how to navigate the various necessary political obstacles. At the same time, build your own profile to move up and challenge for these federal seats. Why aren’t the House and Senate Republicans that have been around for many years running for Congress? If the Republicans were to do this, they’d build their own base. They’d have support for when they do want to move up. Imagine a Republican Governor having a veto-proof Senate?
The egos, the attitudes and the infighting need to be put aside. The “big fish in a small pond” mentality has to go. If state Republicans care about advancing the cause and growing the party, it starts from within and being selfless. Help yourself and help the party by helping others to grow.
So there it is. What are you going to do today, Rhode Island Republican Party? More of the same or is it time to try something different? What are you going to do today to help the party? Anyone?