What does it mean for the Republican Party to be a “big tent” party? For conservatives, that means men and women of all races and backgrounds should populate the party. The days of the wealthy-chubby-white guy party should be over.
Others are confused about the purpose for having a political party. They think that it’s a social club organized to help ambitious people reach their goal of holding public office. These confused people want to ignore policy. They use the phrase “big tent” to mean that it doesn’t matter what you believe — you, too, can be a Republican. You like big government? Join us. Can’t get enough of those government employee unions? C’mon in. Abortion on demand? We’re glad you’re here. You believe sexual liberty trumps religious liberty? We’ll stretch that tent fabric.
Please. If you’re comfortable with big government, and if you’re a cultural Marxist whose moral compass is set by depraved TV sitcoms and dramas, you should read the other party’s platform and find your true home there.
Am I arguing for ideological purity? No — as confusing as that might sound to some. What I am arguing is that the party should consist of coalitions that don’t actively work to undermine each other. If you’re a pro-abort Republican, you have to realize you are member of the pro-life party and learn to deal with it.
If you’re a Republican “fiscal conservative” who thinks social conservatives started the culture wars, and that those “divisive social issues” will be the undoing of the party — you’re very confused and probably in the wrong political party. The Democrats desperately need some “fiscal conservatives.” That’s the party you should try to change, not the GOP. Social conservatives are the party’s base, and by the way, they outnumber fiscal conservatives.
So where was the national party while our Republican president and Republican led U.S. Congress moved dramatically leftward early in the last decade? Why didn’t the party enforce discipline and adherence to its principles? As we’ve been pointing out in a little detail in these articles, there hasn’t really been enough of a party structure to enforce anything.
I realize (as a one time RNC staffer) that it is traditional for the national Republican Party structure to submit to the leadership of a Republican President. But when the president is far off the rails — or the congressional leadership is acting like Democrats — the party, which belongs to all rank and file GOP voters committed to a set of principles – should be strong enough to admonish wayward politicians.
It’s not a wild guess to think the GOP would be in much better shape today had our party enforced spending discipline when President George W. Bush and U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert were in charge.
Conventional wisdom has it that the party’s platform written every four years at its national convention is a document to be ignored after the convention is over. When it is ignored, we get presidents like Obama and congressional leaders like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.
Because of a weak party we lost what could have been a decade of training elected Republicans to act like Republicans. Because of that weakness, we now have to endure the fecklessness of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
We all know that “ideas have consequences.” Surely, by now, conservatives understand that a lack of ideas also has consequences. To be successful, the Republican Party has to be the party of ideas, principles, and policies.
Next time: more on what conservatives must do to make the GOP successful.