November 7, 2012

Picking Up the Pieces

Patrick Laverty

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?

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Steve Laffey left here a few years ago saying this state was a lost cause. Boy, oh boy, was he ever right. I'm sure he is laughing now, as this election merely confirms all he thought. Running as a Republican in this state is a death wish. Too many morons looking for handouts, and now it's only going to get worse, as the slide will accelerate.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at November 7, 2012 6:55 AM

Time to move yet, folks? If you haven't realized yet that nothing will ever change in RI, I'm afraid you deserve everything you get by staying. But your children deserve a better future than what they will have growing up in a failed progressive state with a corrupt legislature and permanently stagnant planned economy.

90%+ of RIFuture's endorsed candidates won. Cicilline, Fox, etc., etc. They got their wish in nearly every election in the state. I wonder if they'll take responsibility in 4 years when the state still sucks. But realistically, there will be snowmen in hell before that happens.

Posted by: Dan at November 7, 2012 7:36 AM

Frankly, I think the first thing conservatives need to do is to stop relying on the RIGOP. Third parties have an opportunity in this state to grow through the write-in line on candidate declaration forms. It allowed mike Rollins to run as a Libertarian in Providence, even though the LPRI is not an "official" party. But it will take serious party level organization and strategy to start winning seats. And these unofficial parties hae certain advantages. The LPRI can run candidates against democrats in the GA, but it can also run primary challengers against GOP seats. Minority parties have that advantage over official parties which are obligated to hold public primaries. The weakness of the state GOP is at least in part in the system itself. Maybe the solution is just to go around it entirely.

Posted by: Ron B. at November 7, 2012 7:40 AM

I cannot help but feel we have entered a long dark night of the soul. We have a crushing deficit, America, as an idea, is at a crossroads. As I read interviews of Obama voters, I note the men offer empty platitudes such as "he shares my values". The women seem convinced of a "War on Women". Ladies, a difference of opinion is not a war, but "War on Women" it has such a marvelous ring to it.

Whether these is an America to resuscitate after four more years of union coddling and Euro-socialism will depend much on how we perform in our individual lives. Will we succumb to government, or will we encourage those with ideas which will truly move us forward.

I have to admit there is an air of unreality about this, I don't know anyone who voted for Obama.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at November 7, 2012 8:27 AM

Last night sums up why I left the RIGOP years ago: it's a colossal waste of time and energy. If you think Washington, DC is dysfunctional, try spending some time with the inner brain-trust of the RIGOP. I for one would rather focus on my business and my family.
Throw the bums out and start from scratch.

Posted by: Phil at November 7, 2012 8:30 AM

The takers clearly have overwhelmed the makers in the State of RI and the nation.

Posted by: John at November 7, 2012 8:31 AM

On the brighter side, the state house knows the path we ae on and can't afford to let it get much worse. They need us...the makers. And in the land of he blind, the one eyed man is king...

Posted by: Mike678 at November 7, 2012 8:38 AM

"On the brighter side, the state house knows the path we ae on and can't afford to let it get much worse."

Are you kidding me? Yes they can. The oine-eyed man may be king, but you can't cure stupid. And there is no ego larger than that of an elected official who claims the authority of a mandate!

Posted by: John at November 7, 2012 8:57 AM

Mike678, I'm not so sure they do know the path we're on. If they did, they'd be doing something to change course, not looking to make SSM the first order of business. I have heard nothing about what they're going to do to turn the RI economy around. Zero.

Cities and towns are going into bankruptcy. One would think that they wouldn't let that happen, seeing the path they were headed down. But people either didn't care or were too stupid to see it coming. The same thing is evident at the State House. They either don't see it or they don't care. We'll see which.

Posted by: Patrick at November 7, 2012 8:58 AM

"Cities and towns are going into bankruptcy."

this may not be the worst thing, it makes a lot of unpopular decisions palatable. Union contracts can be "avoided", pension plans are in question, everything is subject to an orderly process. Best of all, the politicians can say "We were forced to do it".

The GM bankruptcy certainly turned normal bankruptcy law on its head, so it is difficult to say what is certain anymore.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at November 7, 2012 9:58 AM

Warrington, but I'm not saying they're mutually exclusive. There's nothing stopping the elected officials from seeing the downward spiral and reversing it before it gets to bankruptcy. Sure, the unions are going to scream that it's a manufactured crisis, but that's where a true leader and communicator needs to shine. Explain it to people in a way that they can understand and do it irrefutably.

Posted by: Patrick at November 7, 2012 10:19 AM


Binding arbitration trumps the most skilled politician. Only the real threat of bankruptcy brings true change.

Posted by: John at November 7, 2012 10:56 AM

The takers clearly have overwhelmed the makers in the State of RI and the nation.
Posted by John at November 7, 2012 8:31 AM

Is Colin Powell a maker or a taker? I think he voted with the majority.

Posted by: Phil at November 7, 2012 12:27 PM

Someone mentioned Steve Laffey. The guy who wrote a book that almost no one read and then to follow up on that project he made a movie that no one watched. He wasn't crazy for leaving Ri. He was just crazy.

Posted by: Phil at November 7, 2012 12:31 PM

Colin Powell says he voted for Obama. Therefore, the Democratic Party is objectively the correct choice in all elections and good for working-class America. Q.E.D.

Impeccable logic, Phil.

Posted by: Dan at November 7, 2012 1:23 PM

The takers clearly have overwhelmed the makers in the State of RI and the nation.
Posted by John at November 7, 2012 8:31 AM

Sure. We have reached the tipping point in large swaths of this country.
Still, stripped of millions of Obamanuts, watch for 2014 to be a bigger catastrophe for the Party Of Bankruptcy than 2010.
Even with the bloated turnout yesterday of the Obama-zombies half the country voted against Him.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at November 7, 2012 2:03 PM

Posted by Tommy Cranston "Even with the bloated turnout yesterday of the Obama-zombies half the country voted against Him."

It's a little deeper than that. Statistics that I saw indicated that only 39% of whites voted for Obama. Since we are 26-30% minority, it is clear that they will hold the trump card in the future.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at November 7, 2012 2:35 PM


I don't understand your comment to me.

Posted by: Phil at November 7, 2012 4:05 PM

Hey Phil,
How many people read your book or watched your movie?
Just askin'.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at November 7, 2012 4:19 PM

Less than Laffey but not by much. Point taken Mike.

Posted by: Phil at November 7, 2012 7:43 PM

I have a question, and I just asked it else where:

Why aren't other folks allowed to post here? This place is where some folks come to read up on some decent analysis from a right-of-center perspective. Why am I always reading commentary from the same people? It's often good, but that's beside the point.

You want to develop talent from within? Treat it well, and first of all... look for it!

I had a red carpet rolled out for me last year by RI's Progressives. They certainly wanted me playing for the team, that was obvious. At the time, they had reason to believe I was a Blue Donkey team kinda guy, and in some ways they were right: I definitely go where I'm welcome, and where I was able to have the conversation. I was far too conservative and devil's advocate to last there, and besides, all the identity politics was too much for me, bless their liberal hearts, they're wrong about some things. I have to dissent, its what makes this country great. In this state, we're more politically flexible than the blue-red paradigm we're sold on.

I get the impression that RI's right wing prefers all this bullcrap complaining and boo-boo kissing, to actually rallying itself and driving questions into the heart of the electorate. The repubs here are neither presenting any serious narrative, nor learning how to prevent their comrades from parroting ludicrous Fox News oxenscheisse.

I HATE the b.s. talking points and empty promises, terrible rhetoric, coming from both sides. I appreciate this site because there are some thinkers here, and I appreciate your analysis of local issues. I especially enjoy expositions on the very real, very urgent fiscal and financial difficulties that progressives painfully ignore in this state. The problem is, its always the same f***ing people and its getting old.

You want change in the politics in RI? Stop being a closed-shop, both here and elsewhere. Repubs in this state would at best make a good Rudy story, since no one seems to want play big-league and learn to compromise on some of their Fox news talking points.

The Republican party is a foolish institution right now... seriously, and it doesn't know its own future or how to handle itself. I could say the same for the Democrats, but they just won, and they will have history on their side on some of the social issues they've chosen to champion.

I have never voted for a Democratic President in my short years as a voter... All I can say is I'll be damned if I vote for the legislators that are the no-ideas whiners I've met recently from the Red Elephant Brigade in this state. I love you folks, but you're not inspiring anyone.

Democrats are simply who they are... nice post, its all true.

Posted by: Mike at November 9, 2012 2:18 AM

You took a leap of logic and imputed it to Phil; that is the argument of a scoundrel.

In your case Q.E.D. stands for "Quite Evidently Demented."

Try this on, "Yes Virginia, there are Democrats." How'd your state vote? How'd the country vote? Next big obstacle to democracy at home is to eliminate gerrymandered congressional districts. Why? Republicans still control the House when Democrats won most of the votes.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at November 12, 2012 7:16 PM
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