When Ronald Reagan ran for President in 1979, he was running at the tail end of the big government, big spending, high tax, energy shortage years of the Carter administration (sound familiar?). One of Reagan's principles was the "Big Tent" of conservatism, with room enough for all of us.
One misconception about the Big Tent is that we will change to fit you, no matter what you believe or stand for. That misconception fueled much hand wringing from moderate Republicans when Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania defected from the Republican party this week. Voices like Lindsey Graham, and Olympia Snowe pouted to the media that the party has become too ideologically narrow, too regional, too out of touch.
The reality of Reagan's big tent, is that it wasn't built by compromising principles and giving everyone whatever they wanted. That's liberalism. Reagan's tent was built because he was a gifted leader, and was able to prove once and for all that conservative principles truly work. Reagan's conservatism laid the foundation for the last 25 years of prosperity in America. The slow drift from those principles by 2 Bushes and a Clinton have led us to the place where we are flirting with a European Socialist Democracy.
Jim DeMint is a Republican Senator from South Carolina Republican, a staunch conservative voice, and a rising voice of leadership in the Wilderness years of American Republicanism. His excellent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal addresses what a big tent can look like in today's political landscape.
To win back the trust of the American people, we must be a "big tent" party. But big tents need strong poles, and the strongest pole of our party... must be freedom. The federal government is too big, takes too much of our money, and makes too many of our decisions...
DeMint's Big Tent has room for New England Moderates, Western Moderates, and Southern Moderates, as well as traditional conservative fundamentalists. Jim DeMint just might be the voice of one, calling in the wilderness.
Crossposted with updates at Realityunwound