The GOP Should Reach Out To Firefighters And Cops

Frank Ricci | New Haven Battalion Chief, Union President

With the 2018 midterms before us, it is time for the GOP to get to work and follow the leadership and example of our president.

As conservatives, we can no longer except conventional wisdom that labor is the party of the left. We must be willing to have uncomfortable conversations and to acknowledge that all labor is not the same, setting up an opportunity to win in 2018.

We have witnessed what can happen when we reach out to manufacturer workers, and there is an even closer constituency that represents the best in government. They are politically engaged and have witnessed first-hand the failures of government overreaching to attempt to fix every social ill.

In the words of Bobby Halton, firefighters and cops are often Republicans at home and Democrats at work. While they are proud union members, they are far from progressives and tend to lean towards the right.

The GOP should capitalize on this opportunity. Public safety unions have been taken for granted by many on the left in favor of funding failed social programs. While on the other hand, the right often demonized us by lumping us together with state workers and not reaching out.

Firefighters and cops will stand with those who stand with us regardless of party. We know public safety transcends politics and that communities thrive with quality police and fire protection.

Let’s use the fire department in any city as an example. What other government service providers can you call upon who will arrive in minutes, with no paperwork and whose only goal is to help? We are the example of when government works best.

Whether a child is having an asthma attack, a parent is having a stroke, a home or business is on fire, or a loved one is involved in a car accident, everyone knows firefighters will get there quickly and give everything they have to stabilize or mitigate the emergency.

We witness the government fail us at almost every turn, so how can the GOP not reach out and support this level of effectiveness and dedication?

Yes, firefighters and cops deserve collective bargaining, and most conservatives agree that public safety and high hazard jobs deserve a seat at the table. This is an easy carve-out to justify, and it drives the left crazy. For far too long the left has prostituted the fire service for their broader agenda that has zero to do with our work.

We must remember that public safety members represent the quintessential middle class, working two jobs to afford their homes, coaching kids sports or being the neighbor that is always helping out. Most of us are involved in our community. We hate high taxes, are pro-gun and are often revered by the community we serve.

You see, President Trump understands this and delivered the middle class by speaking directly to us.

He went where most Republicans would not go and was prepared for uncomfortable conversations. He did not hide who he was or apologize for being successful. He discounted the conventional thought process that has played into the Democratic narrative — that they are the party of the middle class. He saw that the preeminent political class of the GOP was leaving the middle class out of the dialog, and he changed the conversation changing the political landscape of America.

It is key to realize that it is up to the GOP to keep these gains. The 2018 midterms are just another opportunity to reach out to the forgotten. Has your party chairperson or candidates ever asked to have coffee with the police or fire union presidents?

Has your candidate asked to speak at a union meeting or invited the union leadership to a fundraiser? Have they stopped by the police and fire stations? The answer you will often find is no, and that is not good enough!

If conservatives don’t convey and control their message, then the left will convey and control it for them, and we know many on the left will not let the truth get in the way of their message.

Frank Ricci is an advisory board member for Fire Engineering, a battalion chief and union president in New Haven, Conn. Ricci was the lead plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case Ricci v. DeStefano. Ricci’s opinions are not related to and do not reflect those of his employer of the professional organizations in which is involved.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

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