Russell Moore: RI GOP Shoots Itself In Foot
Monday, October 07, 2013
Give them credit, just when you think things can’t get any worse for the GOP, (they only hold 10 seats in the state legislature, Democrats hold 101), the GOP steps forward with yet another bonehead maneuver.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when Golocalprov.com reported last week that the state GOP planned to raffle off a version of the AR-15 semi-automatic assault weapon—which is eerily similar to the gun used in the Sandy Hook massacre last year, last weekend. The insensitivity to public opinion and common decency displayed here is nothing short of breathtaking. If there were an award for audacity these RI-GOP leaders would win it hands down.
It’s been a very rare occurrence since I’ve been following politics that a candidate or political party does something and I have no idea what they are thinking. It’s one thing to disagree with a idea, position, or tactic, but seldom does a candidate or entity do something completely unfathomable.
But if there’s an entity in Rhode Island that can accomplish such an impressive feat and defy all logic it’s going to be the Rhode Island Republican Party.
This is a bad joke, right?
The story was more worthy of The Onion than a serious news website. It’s hard to imagine the Republican Party losing seats in the 2014 election, but with this latest faux pas coupled with the state Democratic Party’s selection of David Caprio (a sharp, experienced, well-spoken consensus builder) as Chairman, I’m starting to believe it’s possible.
It’s bad enough that the GOP thinks that raffling off an AR-15, the enduring symbol of murder, mayhem, and devastation at Sandy Hook, Elementary School in Connecticut is a good idea privately, but it’s shocking that the Republican Party leaders thought the general public would accept such a ridiculous idea. At a time when the general public is looking for leaders with ideas to reduce gun violence, the GOP is raffling off the very symbol of it in order to raise money. To quote one of my favorite rock bands The Who,
“Lord, there’s got to be a better way.”
To his credit, state GOP Chairman Mark Smiley has said that whoever wins this raffle will have to pass a background check in order to take the weapon. How thoughtful!
Listen to those who’ve won
Thankfully, some of the party’s leaders that have actually won elections, namely, Cranston Mayor and Gubernatorial hopeful Allan Fung and State Senator Dawson Hodgson, who hopes to run for Attorney General, have spoken out against this wrongheaded idea. Kudos to them, but how did this idea become a reality before they had been consulted?
One of the state Republican Party’s strengths should be that because it’s so miniscule, it should be efficient and easy to organize. How the state party implemented this stupid idea without approaching someone like Allan Fung for his opinion, which certainly would have been its death knell, baffles the mind.
The state GOP should look at some of its more successful candidates, like Fung and Hodgson for instance, to see what brought them popularity. Both politicians have broadened their scope by being inclusive and open to differing ideas and opinions, and, in some cases, embracing them. It’s great to have principles, but absent the ability to building coalitions, the party’s candidates will never be successful.
Beyond the 2nd Amendment
None of this is to say anything about the rights of responsible citizens to keep and bear arms. To the contrary, it’s easily arguable that in what seem to be increasingly violent times, people need weapons in order to protect themselves in their homes.
Be that as it may, this is a political event, and even those with the lowest political IQs should have known this was going to garner strong feelings and controversy from all sides of the political aisle. And it doesn’t take a genius to see that gun rights advocacy is not a winning issue in Rhode Island.
We’re not living in Tennessee.
GOP leaders: Wake up
It’s sad to see the GOP in tatters. While the current system in Washington might suggest otherwise, we really do need a healthy two-party system to enhance the free flow of ideas.
Intellectual diversity is important. Who can argue with the state GOP’s message of fiscal responsibility and the need for smaller, more efficient government? But when the RI-GOP is too busy making headlines for embracing assault weapons (a political loser) instead of outlining ideas to cut wasteful spending (a political winner), they’ll never be successful.
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