October 18, 2007

Randall Jackvony: "Waiting on a 'Relevant' Person"

Engaged Citizen

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.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

I'm literally on my way out the door, but will respond in a little more detail later on today. I agree that we probably agree on a great many things. I'm not a purist, but I do tend to be an idealist, but with a practical streak.

As I've stated in private conversation with Justin, my comments in re yourself we're not necessarily about you, per se, but were intended to be more about how one defines the term "relevant" in a political context. Anyway, I'll be be back online later. Thanks.

Posted by: Will at October 18, 2007 12:11 PM

I have a hard time taking any "Republican" seriously who supported Lincoln Chafee. But someone who supported Garry Reilly for Mayor in 2004 ought to be pixelated out of the party for good and consider it a light sentence.

Posted by: George at October 18, 2007 3:29 PM

Well put Randy! I agree, thereis room for everyone in our party and we need to start showing the rest of RI we are open to ideas that may differ from our own or it will be the same small group working that does not seem to make any headway.

Posted by: Caswell Cooke at October 18, 2007 4:34 PM

George, you remind me that one of my sentences was abbreviated. I should have said “Bullying, insulting, and demeaning people – or spouting untruths about them - because they disagree with you doesn't help your cause.”

Perhaps you have something constructive to add regarding the subject matter and not the author? Let’s hear it.

Posted by: Randall Jackvony at October 18, 2007 5:17 PM

"or spouting untruths about them" ...

are you going to deny you supported Reilly in '04?

Posted by: George at October 18, 2007 5:57 PM

It's been a long day, but I'm back...

"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."

Well ... I did assume for the purpose of the posting that people who read Anchor Rising, as well as people who are active in the RI Republican Party know who I am, because anyone who has been involved in the RIGOP within the last half decade knows me for various reasons. I would consider that an objective fact, not something to brag about (and trust me, it isn't anything worth bragging about -- yet!). It was a basic assumption, and I didn't think it worth repeating. That being said, I'm not the issue, anymore than you are. PS My last name is Ricci (If you read the RI Republican Update, I'm required to be mentioned in it at least five times in each monthly edition per my ironclad contract with Dave Talan ;)

While I've been a registered Republican since I was 18 and would be considered by the AR folks to be a "party person," I consider myself to be a conservative who just happens to be a Republican, because I believe it to be the political party, given our form of government, that shares most of my beliefs, which also has an (at least theoretical) chance of being a majority party, thereby enabling it to translate its stated positions into public policy. I was an early supporter of Mayor Laffey, and have been a "Friend of Laffey" in both senses of the term ever since -- and that's not always because I agree with him on every issue. However, in general, we agree. I also happen to like his populist conservative approach, even if it brushes a few the wrong way. I prefer working behind the scenes, as it fits my over all skill set (and no, I was not the pixellator!).

Despite what some may interpret as the tone of some of my previous posts (i.e., in re yourself, or our illustrious former junior senator, or the "old guard" in general, etc.), I greatly prefer "building consensus." However, my definition of "consensus" is convincing others that my point of view is the correct one (when you finally agree with me, we then have consensus). To me, it is not -- as some may like -- to simply stop advocating for my beliefs, because they may be seen by someone else as "too divisive." One cannot preoccupy oneself about what other think about you, because in the grand scheme of things, it's irrelevant. I have no problem with the "big tent" approach, as long as I'm not confined to the area under the bleachers shoveling elephant's dung.

Despite our general agreement on many issues, I would find a problem with this statement by Caswell:

"I agree, there is room for everyone in our party"

Sounds nice on the surface (and very Chafee-esque), but do you or do you not agree that a political party's reason for being is to provide a means for like-minded people to work towards common goals? I fail to see how a political party is worth even having if you don't share at least some basic values in common. I'm not talking about enforcing ideological conformity or purity a la Nazi Germany, I'm simply talking about having some basic core beliefs in common. Reagan had his 85% rule. It's a good number.

My concern, and I'll make this as pithy as possible, is that it's not the party or its candidates responsibility to bend and contort themselves to make you (in the general plural sense) feel good or to make you relevant -- it's all up to you! For instance, using your favorite guy as an example, Laffey became relevant, because through the force of his will, his basic message, his fundraising ability, and the support of friends, he did so. Did he step on a few toes along the way? Sure. Did he occasionally use a sledgehammer when a lite tap would have done the job? Yeah. Is making sure you get the job done the first time something that most people would have a problem with? I don't think so, especially when it accomplishes the job. You can't please all the people all the time ... the smartest people are the ones who don't put too much effort into contradicting that basic rule. One of my favorite sayings -- because I believe it, is: "In order to be relevant, you need to make yourself relevant." The other is by Lee Iacocca, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way." Choose.

Posted by: Will at October 19, 2007 2:06 AM

Will, thanks for your thoughtful response.

Regarding relevancy, I was responding to your original statements on my column. Basically you were saying I was irrelevant, no insult meant or taken. My point was just that anyone should be able to share their opinions, regardless of how relevant others think they are. I happen to have followed up my time in elected office with a bi-weekly column in the local paper – that’s not about relevancy; it is merely something I find engaging to do.

Politics is a fickle mistress. Anyone looking to bolster their own feeling of relevancy there will be a disappointed at some point.

I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I think what Caswell meant is that there is room for every Republican in the party. As I said in my original post, “there has to be some commonality under the GOP tent.” I never considered an actual percentage of commonality, but 85% seems good for core beliefs and goals.

Regarding building consensus, I wouldn’t expect anyone to not advocate for their beliefs. I don’t think it is beliefs perhaps more moderate Republicans would find divisive, I think it is the methodology. I cite the yelling and shouting at meetings when people are trying to discuss the issue to arrive at a solution – that is the issue. You seem like a reasonable person, so keep advocating. Not everyone is reasonable.

But at the end of the day, infighting doesn’t help the party. That is why the party spectrum, moderate to conservative should work to get a message, repeat it ad nauseam and get people to run for smaller offices and win.

Posted by: Randall Jackvony at October 19, 2007 5:25 PM

Sorry Randy-
you're a me-too Republican in the Chafee/Traf/Farmer mode I for one have seen ENOUGH of.
"Vote Republican because we need a 2 party sysytem and we will sell the store to the unions just as bad as the Democrats" is a policy I want nothing to do with. I rather vote for Looney Left Liz.
What we NEED is a party that actually stands for something:
1. "Here's the specific tax reduction and tax limitation policies we will implement"
2. "Here's the specific ways we're going to stick it to the unions, welfareites and beuracracy to implement paragraph 1"

End of story. Things your me-too Republicans have never done.

Posted by: Mike at October 19, 2007 8:44 PM
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