Republicans Don’t Need to Expand the Tent… They Need to Stop Moving It Long Enough for People to Come In
Is anyone else getting sick of the constant talk about the size of the Republican tent? Who gives a darn about the size of the tent if you have no idea where the tent is or what it looks like?
Right now, I know Republicans who are pro-gun and anti-gun, for intervention in Iraq and against intervention in Iraq, pro-life and pro-choice, pro earmark and anti-earmark, Christian and atheist, pro marriage amendment and anti marriage amendment, for stronger border security and for amnesty, and so forth and so forth.
And before you launch into it… I know, I know… the anti-amnesty crowd yells at the pro-amnesty crowd, and the pro-life crowd is vehemently opposed to pro-choicers, etc… I get it. It’s politics.
But the truth is, the Republican problem is not that the so-called tent is not big enough… no, it’s that the tent keeps moving around under the non-leadership of a bunch of Republicans more interested in “figuring out what the American people want to hear” than in defining a vision for America based upon principle – conservative, or otherwise.
In short, no one knows what Republicans believe or why.
I defy anyone out there to clearly (and I mean CLEARLY) define what Republicans believe and why. I assure you that it is close to impossible if you are honest – and don’t project what YOU think they SHOULD believe and why they should believe it. Then, the most you can do is throw out a few random halfway-consistent positions based on a hodge-podge of political and ideological views.
For example – take Iraq. I think you can say that Republicans generally were/are united around the view that we need to support our soldiers in full while they were/are there. Fair enough. But I certainly do not know what the Republican vision is for our 21st Century foreign policy, why we believe it and how Iraq fits into that vision.
Take healthcare. I haven’t a clue. Seriously… back in 2007, Republican Senators sat around in a room and came up with “Every American Insured.” That was nothing more than a politically motivated effort based on fear: “Oh my God, we have to do something about healthcare… it’s THE issue for 2008!” (kind of funny/sad in retrospect, actually).
I could go issue-by-issue.
Our job is to calm down and to concentrate on getting back to basics. That means that we must focus on the defining issues of our day and staking out positions based on some identifiable principle or set of principles. For me, as I have previously opined, those principles are freedom, limited government, fiscal responsibility, self-reliance, peace-through-strength and an appropriate deference and respect for the Almighty.
Reasonable people can disagree with those, I suppose. But we need to get back to the fundamentals and actually demonstrate a belief in them.
Now, as it relates to the increasingly-tired musings of Mr. Frum and those who continue to take the bait from the Obamanistas to worry about Rush and the evil talk-radio folks… one thing can be certain: we know what Rush Limbaugh believes and why. And, you know what? That is leadership. And, generally speaking, I agree with him.
If you are troubled by this (false, really) notion that Rush is the de facto leader of the Party, then force Party “leadership” to stand up and believe in something instead of complaining about Rush. I think Rush’s views are a fine place to start a discussion – and you are free to disagree with me… but please focus on the ideas instead of this ridiculous, made-up flap.
Let us move forward talking about ideas and most importantly, WHY we believe them. Let’s talk about Frum’s notion of higher gas taxes for lower payroll taxes and why we may believe it or not believe it, NOT why it may be what people want to hear. Let’s talk about Ramesh’s idea(s) of increased child tax credits on the same basis. Let’s talk about government spending and the role of government in our economy, and about our role in the Middle East on this basis. And so on…
There is great unity that can result from ideas based on principle instead of political expediency, and if we build a tent upon a strong foundation and leave it in place long enough for people to come in, we will win. Or, as the mystery voice declared in Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”