Bill Fischer is one of the more skilled and reputable lobbyist – public affairs professionals I’ve interacted with at the State House. The Democratic Party recently engaged his services to speak on their behalf during the 2012 campaign. It was a smart move, driven I suspect, by a realization that if their incumbents are left to just run on their records, there isn’t much good to say. No jobs. No prosperity. No trust in government. On the state and federal level, status-quo leaders have consistently failed to deliver.
On the federal side, each of our current delegation has made it clear that they will continue to toe the party line. Right or wrong on specific issues, their unified dogmatic approach does not serve our state or country well. Partisan demagoguery will not fix this country, just the opposite. We need to elect people who are willing to fight for the middle ground of American politics, because that is where real leadership happens.
Our Republican candidates are those high-quality leaders who embrace the middle ground. Barry Hinckley is a proven job creator who also happens to be pro-choice and pro-gay rights. Brendan Doherty is a public servant of unimpeachable character in a district where that is a major issue. He supports the middle road Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan over Paul Ryan’s plan (which has been embraced a higher decibel level by many in the party). Drawing on his financial expertise, Michael Riley has put forth his own plan to stabilize the dollar, which includes having oil companies who drill public land pay in to shore up Medicare and Social Security. These are quality candidates who offer to serve our state with real ideas and leadership. Mr. Fischer’s job is to tear them down.
Fischer is certainly an interesting choice to speak for the General Assembly Democrats (who usually depend on their state-employed spokesmen to make their case). As the lobbyist for a forward-thinking group called Democrats for Education Reform and recently as spokesman for Marriage Equality Rhode Island, he has seen each of his principled causes torpedoed by the politicians he now represents. It’s obviously a mercenary sort of business. In the shadow of 38 Studios, perpetual joblessness and America’s worst business environment, Mr. Fischer will certainly earn his fee if he can sell this message to R.I. voters one more time: “Everything will get better as long as we don’t change anything.”
Clearly, the status quo is not working. To get real change we need new leaders. I’ve put my own professional life on hold to build a legislative record that supports a different vision of leadership than what we have now: a clean, competent government that makes responsible long-term decisions and remains accountable to the people. It’s a vision that requires hard work and sacrifice in and out of government. It requires good people with thick skins and strong constitutions to step forward and lead from the middle. That’s is the tradition of New England Republicanism that once upon a time Rhode Island was willing to embrace. If only we had a spokesman!