I’m beginning to think that, if it hasn’t already, it may soon happen that the tendency of folks with an agenda to link the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity with the RI Republican Party will become a positive. The intention, one infers, is to sully my organization’s sincerity and credibility as being suspiciously linked to the political party that allies of the opposing political party have spent decades portraying as the home of villains without integrity.
It is (at the very least) logically possible that a run of proven integrity, along with good ideas and reliable work, on the part of the Center could flip that strategy and lead people in the voting public to consider whether conservatives and Republicans (which are, N.B., two different groups) have gotten a bad rap.
I base the above impression on my own reaction to the Providence Journal’s latest determination that it must disclose to its readers that the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse, is a “former GOP candidate-recruiter.” He’s also a former Major League baseball player and Staples executive, by the by, and he held those roles for much longer than the few months he spent working with the multi-partisan Clean Slate campaign. I find, though, that I’m not so incensed at the practice as I once was.
Obviously, my impression is a subjective measure, but it derives from things I’ve heard and conversations I’ve had indicating that the Center, eliminating the state’s sales tax, and things like (coming soon) school choice might be more attractive than myths about Republicans are repulsive. And as folks come to realize — “Hey, wait a minute!” — that the Center works with a whole lot of Democrats and sincerely (after careful consideration) concludes that certain policies will have very beneficial effects that will very much empower Rhode Islanders, they might take another look at the people, organizations, and factions that have tried to distort the debate along political lines.
They might realize, for one, that journalists at the Providence Journal are members of the Providence Newspaper Guild, which is the local branch of the Newspaper Guild/Communications Workers of America (TNG/CWA), which is a union within the larger AFL-CIO. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that disclosed within a Providence Journal story, but then again, it’s also PolitiFact policy not to fact-check their fellow reporters, so it’s not surprising.
Today, for instance, union president and journalist John Hill has an article helping to advertise a recruiting drive in the state Department of Corrections. True, the RI Brotherhood of Correctional Officers does not appear to be a direct member of the AFL-CIO, but Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), with members who work alongside the correctional officers, is, and the various unions tend to work closely together, as we frequently see with the AFL-CIO and the Rhode Island National Education Association (NEA). Fully informed readers might find such choices for public service announcements a suspicious use of column inches.
Layers upon layers, and it’s difficult not to wonder how few Rhode Islanders realize that the state’s ostensibly objective paper of record is mixed in among them.