Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Big Tent or Bad Tent?

The Boston Globe had an interesting editorial today on the latest Republican Presidential debate and I can't help myself but to comment. The Globe was just thrilled that the Republican Party was offering the population actual choice.
On Iraq war strategy, immigration, abortion rights, health care, trade, and English as the official US language, the ideological diversity on stage in Manchester last night was far broader than what the Democrats displayed two nights earlier.

Of course, toward the end, there was a different note to the editorial.
But the candidates also used that question, and another one later, to do some soul searching about why the Republican Party took such a beating in the 2006 elections. They lost credibility, they all said, by becoming more like the Democrats -- big spending, interventionist, corrupt. It was a mea culpa to the Republican Party's base, but strikingly, did not mention Iraq, and in that way missed the most important message of 2006.
And in between was a John McCain love fest, because we all know how much of a maverick he is. He's such a great candidate because he addresses real people and everything. Okay, that's blatant BS, but the media is having a huge problem kicking this absurd McCain obsession. Rumor has it, it's worse than a coke addiction.

So what does it all mean, beside the fact that the media [hearts] McCain? Is the Republican Party really a "big tent" party? Are their candidates more interesting and diverse? Hardly. Sure, there are differences between the Republican candidates - but different shades of what... burn-in-hell red? Wrong-for-America Maroon? You have McCain, the opportunist. Then there's Giuliani, the opportunist... and Romney, the ultimate opportunist. McCain's constituency seems to be the media, Giuliani's the past (don't you all remember 9/11? Clearly, you need to vote for him!) and Romney's base seems to be rich, wealthy, corporate donors - because it sure is hell ain't anyone in Massachusetts.

Who exactly do these "big tent" Republicans pull together? That's what being "big tent" is all about - not about a diversity of opinion, but bringing all sorts of people together. Democrats were traditionally the "big tent party" because they brought together unions, liberals, minorities, progressives, the southern democratic bloc and all sorts of other people - be they FDR's converts and Democrats-for-Life or people in the academic world.

The Republican Party? They have their religious fundamentalist base and corporate funders - that's pretty much it. The whole Karl Rove strategy - one the entire party embraced for years now - is one of winning by the smallest margin possible, using hot-button issues to drive just enough support on election day to get 51% of the vote (or even 49% and a fixed Florida election). You can't have an actual majority, just a lot of extra pissed off people on election day, willing to vote against their interests. Otherwise, how could the Republican Party be so fracked up and get away with it?

Well, the people driven by the same-old hot button issues are wisening up. Better yet, most of those people pulled the Democratic lever last time; because, while our Presidential candidates and elective leaders may not have the larger diversity of ideas according to the Globe (though, I vehemently disagree with that), we have the right ones. We're the guys who care about issues ordinary people are facing every day, whether it's public education, health care, social security, or the war in Iraq. We're the "big tent party," drawing all sorts of people together.

The unison at the last Democratic Presidential Debate had more to do with conventional wisdom moving toward the right direction (ending the war, supporting civil rights, etc.) and almost nothing to do with a lack of ideas. Don't get me wrong, a lot of the Democrats can certainly be improved and the fact that they're shared by some makes it a whole lot easier for them to be shared by all. Yet, the day Republicans become the Big Tent Party is the day they actually care about everyone, throughout their entire lives - not just fetuses and wealthy corporate donors. It's a day I look forward to and know will come, but not by any of these neanderthals currently trying to carry the Elephant-in-the-room Flag.


bostonph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bostonph said...

I think you could make an equally strong argument that they lost credibility by claiming a mandate when they had no such thing. My friends and family in the Midwest are just as irate about faith-based initiatives as they are about the Iraq war.

Do read the Daily Howler? He's a little obsessive, but his core point - that the so called "liberal media" distorts the truth in the name of "balance" is quite a good one:

Just a few years back, when the Democrats were similarly diverse in opinion and approach, the Globe was talking about lack of focus...

Anonymous said...

The TEN GOP candiodates are pro-life AND pro-choice. They are pro-war AND anti-war. They are pro-immigrant AND anti-immigrant. The views get spread around among the ten, so you don't get any one person who aligns 100%, but the views are all there.

Which is the pro-life Presidential candidate? The anti-immigrant candidate?

Part of the trouble is that the debate moderators don't ASK the GOP candidates about the 'ordinary issues' that you spell out - and they don't ask the Democratic candidates about the issues they hammer the GOP on (has ANY Democratic candidate been asked about God or church? Why not?).

This false split is enhanced by the television moderators.

Ryan Adams said...

But come on, Wolf Blitzer is such a respected figure in the media....

Okay, I can't even say that with a straight face.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm a UMD guy and I've read your blog for a while, but this is my first comment.

Democrats may have been the party of the big tent at one point, but no more. You yourself bring up Democrats For Life. They have the great Pregnant Women Support Act, but how many Democrats are lining up behind it, because they can't support a piece of legislation that came from a prolife group, even if its a fantastic idea! Why can't they? Because NARAL would kick them all in the balls over it.

Dennis Kuchinich was prolife his entire career until about 10 minutes before he ran for president. He knew he wouldn't be able to get any party support at all as a prolifer because no one in the party would risk pissing off the prochoice crowd, even if he was the only one making any sense on Iraq at the time. How many votes could Democrats take from Republicans if they just opened up on this one issue alone? I'm not saying adopt a prolife plank, just welcome them into the party with open arms. Not only would it be good politics, it would get some great policy like the PWSA. Of course it will never happen until groups like DFL can dole out cash like NARAL can, and NARAL has a 30 year head start.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we need to re-examine the justification for voting for a "representative" to go to Congress. In the old days because of travel time, limited news capabilities, etc. we had to elect a person to make decisions for us. We elected a person based on our agreeing with most of his ideas, and then when a new problem came up we would assume he would "think like us" and vote the way we would. That's because he wouldn't have time to canvas his constituents and see what they really wanted. The internet and instant communication allows us to voice our opinions quickly about anything that comes up. Now if we could just get a representative who would vote the way his constituents really wanted instead of the way the lobbyists want, we'd be all set.

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