Republicans are doing this “big tent” thing all wrong. Instead of making the tent bigger, they just move the posts and stakes. Instead of including more people, they only shift to different people. By moving the tent to include people who don’t necessarily hold to Republican principles, they leave behind people to whom those principles are vitally important. The “big tent” concept – as recently practiced – does not make the Party bigger; it leaves it weaker.
No one is allowed to join a liberal organization who isn’t a liberal. Even some liberals can’t get in because they aren’t liberal enough. Conservatives, because we are willing to negotiate and compromise with liberals, end up allowing liberals to change them. When Republicans do that, they stop being the party of conservative principles. Instead, they become the party of compromised principles.
Grassroots conservatives don’t want compromised principles. Previous Republican leaders failed to appreciate how important it is to stay true to and speak up for our principles and to articulate our core beliefs. They failed to value conservative voters, an incredibly important group of voters. Instead, leadership tried to get fancy, and they created a circus under their so called “big tent.”
Only people who hold six specific beliefs belong in the Republican “tent.” Further, they must act and vote based on those beliefs. They have to believe “that the free enterprise system is the most productive supplier of human needs and economic justice.” They must support keeping the government out of our business and our businesses. They have to identify and support candidates who will actually vote to reduce the government’s ability to impede the creation of personal wealth and business success.
People who belong in the “tent” need to believe “that all individuals are entitled to equal rights, justice, and opportunities and should assume their responsibilities as citizens in a free society.” To accomplish that, Republicans need to advance personal freedom by reducing government interference in our lives and by taking personal responsibility for preserving our liberty rather than expecting someone else to do it for us.
Our “tent” welcomes those who believe “that fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraints must be exercised at all level of government.” We promote smaller government, fewer regulations, and lower taxes. Too many politicians are overly concerned with “position, power, and prestige” and are not concerned nearly enough with the fact that the more power they collect for themselves, the less they leave for the citizens from whom it comes.
Republicans gladly welcome those who believe “that the federal government must preserve individual liberty by observing constitutional limitations.” We must fight for legislation that preserves our constitutional liberties, but we also must speak up and speak out in defense of our constitutional heritage, and we must teach our children the true history of America, not the false narrative being pushed in our schools and in the media.
Republicans welcome those who believe “that peace is best preserved through a strong national defense.” And a major part of that defense is for ordinary Americans to be armed with enough firepower to defend their families, their communities, and their freedoms from all enemies both foreign and domestic (and recent events have demonstrated that plenty of domestic enemies are lurking about the country waiting to strike without warning).
Most importantly, people in the “tent” must believe “that faith in God, as recognized by our founding fathers, is essential to the moral fiber of the nation.” That does not mean that only Christians can be Republicans. Even liberals recognize that the country holds together by the common values that have come from the Judeo-Christian heritage that birthed our will to fight for liberty. That is why the communist/socialist domestic terrorists are trying so hard to destroy the church – they want to destroy our moral fiber and make us easy to break down.
Our “tent” can expand to hold all who believe in our principles. And we don’t have to go chasing after them. They will come to us if we boldly tell who we are, because we are what they want in a political party. We just need to stop looking like circus clowns by chasing after those who do not share our beliefs.
The Virginia Republican Party has new leaders who seem to get it. But grassroots Republicans also have a responsibility to proclaim our principles. We have plenty of room in the Republican “tent” for those who hold to our principles and who care enough to get involved. Republicans need to find them and invite them in.
Steve “Doc” Troxel, Ph.D.