Suzanne Cienki, the East Greenwich Town Council president whose local leadership had the town’s government in the headlines for a year, has announced her candidacy to be chairwoman of the state Republican Party:
“The State of Rhode Island is run by the Democratic Party,” Cienki said in letter to GOP Central Committee members. “Unfortunately, this one-party system is the same as a no-party system. The balancing of ideas and checks and balances by opposing parties is vital to a democratic society. The RIGOP needs to clearly identify a platform and educate voters in Rhode Island as to how Republicans will do things differently.” …
“I have the leadership skills, time and energy to devote to the position of chair,” Cienki wrote in her letter to party faithful. “I am not afraid of a challenge and willing to speak out on behalf of taxpayers on many important issues. The state party’s main goals should have a clearly identifiable message, focus on fundraising efforts, and recruit candidates to run for statewide offices.”
Amid the behind-the-scenes chatter, I’ve heard it said that Cienki would be a bad choice because she led her council into a rout by the local Democrats, but Republicans should be wary of that argument. The idea that somebody with the gumption to take on Rhode Island’s established interests should be penalized because she has had to learn from her experience is antithetical to an active movement that can advance a cause.
The way to gain advantage over time is to experiment, take risks, and then learn from the results, both good and bad. Rather than writing off anybody who has a bad result, a movement that reassesses based on that experience and renews the charge will make progress. And if the people who made the mistakes are willing to do the same, they’re particularly well suited to guide the change, at the same time that their participation makes it more likely that the opposition will learn the wrong lessons.
Featured image: Screen grab from Christa Coviello Thompson’s Facebook Live video of a chaotic East Greenwich Town Council meeting.