"Tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions : traditional b. b marked by moderation or caution - a conservative estimate c. c marked by or relating to traditional norms of taste, elegance, style, or manners"
That is all there is to it. There is nothing ideological or "small" tent about the meaning. It is literally just people who view the world with moderation or caution. This disgusting display of high brow rich Republicans all over the morning shows this morning talking "big" tent as if not just anyone can be a Conservative. What they fail to realize is that it is their brand of Republicanism that is so BIG as to encompass the left/liberalism. They fail to recognize that THEY, Specter, Collins etc. are not Conservative's they are Republicans in name only due to their BIG GOVERNMENT ideas!.
The Conservatives in this country are legion they are former Democrats because that party is SO FAR LEFT it truly left them. It is women and minorities who have been failed by the organizations who pretended to act in their best interests but were really just FAR LEFT. It is lifelong Conservatives people who have always been "marked by moderation or caution ". It is now libertarians who recognize that while it might have been cool to vote for the first Black President it was in retrospect a FOOLS FOLLY because they will NEVER get an inch towards anything resembling small government.
In the coming election of 2010 all of those Conservative people will come together to put the brakes on a very HARSH liberal agenda that will hurt the working poor the most BUT will affect us all in the things we enjoy doing to relax when not working to pay for the radical agenda that the leftist's want to stomp on us with.
The Republican Party need not redefine itself, it need not talk down to the grassroots as if we are idiots/racists who are unwelcoming to others because the TRUTH is if they look in the mirror it is themselves who are so FAR REMOVED from We The People of these United States that they have no idea how to WIN. The TEA Parties were no fluke and if Republicans want to win they need only be Conservative.
This country is NOT so far left of center that it is going to support the agenda of Nationalized Healthcare, Cap & Trade, Amnesty and all of those items are on Obama's agenda. The Republican Party will win because people will be horrified by the COSTS to them and be prepared to have a divided government. They need to have alternatives presented but mostly they NEED TO TRUST what you say. There does NOT need to be a departure from Conservative Principles. If Republicans are walking their talk they will win - if they choose to redefine the party, they will indeed be in the wilderness for a long time to come. I know you are saying IF the people will want a divided government in 2010, how will Republicans by changing the party remain in the wilderness? IT will be because people will JUST NOT VOTE. You cannot make them and you cannot cram FEEL GOOD fantasies down their throats in an attempt to sway the left. The left is quite comfortable with the way things are, BUT those in the middle and center RIGHT are not!
Just one more thing to add....it would appear via PEW that indeed the country is becoming more Conservative in nature which is just another reason for Republicans to SHUT UP and stick with Conservative Principles..