Arthur Christopher Schaper: RI’s GOP–Now Get Out There And Win

Saturday, June 22, 2013


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The RI GOP has weathered the storm...can they come back strong under the new leadership of Mark Smiley?

"The Rhode Island Republican Party is (not quite) dead." "They can meet in a phone booth.” “Rhode Island GOP: Go Away." "Friends Don't Let Friends Vote Republican."

One prominent Rhode Island Republican wrote for GoLocalProv: "We are Idiots". What was the opinionated Republican opining about? A one-vote majority elected Mark Smiley instead of Dr. Daniel Harrop to the RI GOP Chairmanship, followed by confusion allegations of voter fraud, distortion, Armageddon, blah blah blah...Not very inspiring. But the sun is shining again. The “idiocy” has turned into idiosyncrasy: Rhode Island Republican Party chairman candidates have demonstrated true leadership; the center holds; a new captain is setting sail over the Ocean State.

So, the "chaos" is over, the clouds that “lour’d over” the Rhode Island Republican Party have dissipated, so far. Still, after the wrangling over who would be the next Chairman of the RI GOP, one would assume that the party was all but dead (Stick a fork in, this “Elephant is done”). Point of fact, the RI Republican Renaissance is on the rise. Even if the Ocean State remains in a tempest-tossed moribund state, the RI GOP can help "Little Rhody" to take back the rebound.

Mark Smiley won the chairmanship by one vote after the ballots were taken in and tallied: 94-93. Unfortunately, allegations and gossip reported that there were more votes than voters. The disorder which followed suggested that the party would be forever split between more liberal vs. more conservative factions. More particularly, the one vote which divided Dan Harrop and Mark Smiley was sinking all the more under overblown media claims of voter fraud and just plain bad counting. Frankly, the Rhode Island press needs to press for the best if a viable two-party tussle, and a lasting state, is going to resurge in New England. Not just for John Chafee, but for founder Roger Williams (who would be a Republican today, and a persecuted minority in his own state, too?)

Notwithstanding the hype, and cutting through the calamari, Rhode Island Republican Assembly leader Raymond McKay remained steadfast, an open advocate for his state. McKay should be commended for following Roberts Rules of Parliamentary Procedure to sort out the claimed discrepancies about who voted, how many, and the issues which called the vote valid or invalid. Furthermore, his RI Future comments repudiating hollow allegations of bigotry have not received their proper respect. The GOP is not a minority party which disdains minorities, but a formerly-confused association which has weathered the latest storm to come out stronger. They will not remain a minority for long.

Most importantly, the grace and candor of Smiley and Harrop have sown the seeds of concord much needed in the RI GOP, and every voter should elect the same Republican virtues to serve in the GA. Harrop declined to challenge the one-vote majority which elected Mark Smiley. All power to Harrop as he runs for Mayor of Providence. His good will is inspiring. Every Republican, whether he or she voted for him or not, should give Harrop a standing ovation for standing up for his state and the party, rather than grandstanding for his own political ambitions.

Mark Smiley is the new RI GOP Chairman, and he has plans. He stated time and again that a "pro-business" message is crucial. Despite the snide asides of Channel 12 reporters, the Democratic Party has not advanced the pro-business agenda much needed in Rhode Island. Brian Newberry outlined a plan to bring the sales tax to zero. Mark Smiley pointed out that West Virginia was a one-party Democratic state turning red, and New Hampshire provides clear policies which can work in Rhode Island.

Harrop wants to raise more money. And he already has. Rhode Island Center for Freedom Prosperity has raised significant sums for the conservative cause. Joining his finances with Smiley's gains in grassroots is just the combination that the Republican Party needs. Messaging is key, and both candidates acknowledged this, too.

Mark Smiley has said it, and now the RI GOP can do it: Agree on one singular message, and get the message out. Pro-business, lower taxes, standard small governments: all Republican traits. Show that it's personal. The tax structure needs to change. Explain the huge cost of living in Rhode Island, and reverse it. 0.0% sales tax sounds good, and how about revising the outrageous car tax.

Smiley's stance on gay marriage reflects the same care and concern which Republicans across the country face. "At first, I was fine with gay marriage", signaling the tolerance is the virtue which defines Republicans. The alarming trends that have assaulted the Catholic Church, including the homosexual agenda in public elementary schools, is alarming, and voters must demand clear protections and provisions on “gay marriage”. This issue should remain as local and private as possible. Rhode Island should lead on this, and provide an example for other states.

The storm is over. The Ocean State has a Republican Party unified in leadership and unifying its message. Now they need to undo one-party rule.

Congratulations, RI GOP–Now get out there and win!


Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Contact him at [email protected] and check out his Twitter at @ArthurCSchaper. Schaper's Corner;
As He Is Ministries


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