Can the GOP regain its "Big Tent" mojo?

Republicans Are The Real Big-Tent Party

Excerpt: [Comment: from October 2015]

The Republican Party may have three rings with a clown out in front right now, but at least they’ve got a big-enough tent to fit it all.
Donald Trump Rolls Out The GOP's Scary New Big Tent At The RNC

Excerpt: [from July 2016 / see cartoon in article]

The 2016 Republican National Convention has displayed a “big tent” of diversity, but probably not in the way that party leaders hoped to show off at their big confab. Groups of the far right, including the KKK and neo-Nazi skinheads, have been emboldened by some of the relatively more “mainstream” nativist and racially tinged rhetoric of those backing Donald Trump.

Trump’s big tent myth: Data suggests he isn’t growing the GOP after all, he’s just energizing the base — and that’s great news for Dems

Excerpt: [from May 2016 / Salon (consider the source)]

If Republicans have any hope at all in November, it’s that Donald Trump can grow the party. In particular, working class whites will have to respond to Trump’s vaguely populist message. There are indeed many voters who feel displaced in this economy, and it’s not unreasonable to think they’ll find the Donald’s anti-trade rhetoric appealing.

Discerning economic voters, however, understand that Trump’s empty platitudes aren’t solutions. Even if he occasionally stumbles upon a relevant point, he’s offering nothing in the way of substance. The voters flocking to Trump are doing so for reasons beyond policy.

His appeal is cultural as much as anything else. He’s an ethno-nationalist peddling themes very much in line with Tea Party wing of the GOP – there’s nothing new or surprising about that. Republicans are nevertheless convinced that Trump can alter traditional voting patterns and bring millions of new voters to the GOP. This is believed for two reasons: 1) Trump continually says so and 2) He’s on pace to receive more primary votes than any Republican candidate in history. Because Trump is shattering voting records, it’s assumed he’s expanding the party’s base. But the data suggests otherwise.
The Big Tent Party Collapses

Excerpt: [Breitbart: from May 2015]

The GOP is falling apart. How else to explain the wide variance of positions within the Republican Party on basic issues ranging from same-sex marriage to immigration to tax policy?

For years, GOP bigwigs have explained that the Republican Party can only succeed if it expands and evolves, embracing as many views as possible. There’s only one problem: that simply doesn’t work.

While the Democratic Party has moved toward leftist purity in which Hillary Clinton’s policy positions are virtually indistinguishable from socialist Bernie Sanders’, the Republican Party has become to political positions what COEXIST bumper stickers are to religion – an embrace of all and, thereby, a perversion of all.

The media enjoy suggesting that the Republican Party has never been more right-wing, but the opposite is true: the Republican Party has never been more heterogeneous, and the Democratic Party has never been more radically homogenous.

Just look at the Republican field today: an agglomeration of random humans appealing to small segments of the population. The Republican Party has now fragmented into Tea Party Republicans who oppose Establishment Republicans, Socially Conservative Republicans who oppose Libertarian Republicans. None of these candidates are running for the nomination; all of them are running for approximately 25 percent of the vote in a primary. Winning one quarter of primary voters in the early states could win the nomination.
The Narrow Door to the GOP’s Big Tent

Excerpt: [May 2016]

Paul Ryan’s half-baked Hamlet act over whether or not to endorse Donald Trump exposes the utter hypocrisy and phoniness of “Big Tent” Republicans. For years, they lectured “rigid” conservatives on the need to hold their noses and support philosophically irregular candidates.

Overrated know-it-alls like Karl Rove would foist a Richard Riordan on rank-and-file Republicans and then browbeat them if they dissented. But now it is obvious for all to see that the “Big Tent” Republicans never really wanted a Big Tent.

They wanted a country club and saw themselves as its permanent membership committee. As long as Democrats masquerading as Republicans like Arnold Schwarzenegger kissed their rings, they could join. I don’t recall any of the “Never Trump” crowd lifting a finger to help Tom McClintock, the Ted Cruz of California politics, beat back Schwarzenegger’s ludicrous candidacy. What I recall is a lot of empty and cocky chatter from the Bushies about how an “exciting” and atypical Republican like Schwarzenegger was going to “grow” the party. Those who correctly predicted his destruction of the party were blown off.

Even earlier, Richard Riordan, the flaky former liberal “Republican” mayor of Los Angeles, ran for governor at the eager direction of the Bushies. Riordan supported abortion rights, gay marriage, tax hikes, climate-change activism, and pretty much every PC position you could possibly imagine. Yet, according to Time, “President Bush and his political guru Karl Rove were big Riordan backers, and the former Los Angeles mayor came back into politics at Bush’s urging.”

Now we’re told that George W. Bush is sitting out the upcoming convention in Cleveland and Jeb Bush can’t bring himself to vote for Trump. He sniffs that Trump isn’t sufficiently conservative for his taste. Who are they kidding? They aren’t rejecting Trump on philosophical grounds; they are blocking him on blatantly personal ones.

After all, the much-advertised struggles of Paul Ryan’s conscience didn’t stop him from running with a RINO who had voted for Paul Tsongas and donated to Planned Parenthood. As for their anguish about Trump as a “loose cannon,” that anxiety is also of recent vintage. The ornery Bob Dole and the nutty John McCain somehow didn’t trigger it. The country club Republicans told conservatives to lose their nerdy primness and vote for them.
How the GOP’s Big Tent turned into a house of horrors

Excerpt: [Washington Post - October 12th]

What is the Republican Party? Suddenly, this has become one of the central questions of the 2016 campaign. It’s not simply a matter of whether the GOP is the party of Donald Trump or the party of Paul D. Ryan. It is also an issue of whether Republican congressional leaders have any connection with the seething grass roots whose anger they stoked during the Obama years but always hoped to contain.

Trump is the product of their colossal miscalculations. And then there are the ruminations of millions of quiet Republicans — local business people and doctors and lawyers and coaches and teachers. They are looking on as the political institution to which they have long been loyal is refashioned into a house of bizarre horrors so utterly distant from their sober, community-minded and, in the truest sense of the word, conservative approach to life.

This election has been transformed. Its trajectory will now be divided between Before the Video (BV) and After the Video (AV). Hillary Clinton was always likely to win, but BV, it seemed she would have to scratch out a normal, and perhaps even narrow, victory. AV, Republicans all the way down the ticket are running for their lives. Clinton has already started to divert some of her rhetorical energy to helping Democrats in Senate and House races, and Democratic money sources are moving to try to make Nov. 8 a day of victory at all levels.
A Look to the Future of Big Tent Republicanism - Building a Coalition of Common Interests

Excerpt: [Unsure of the date but looks to be about 2014]

While Democrats hope to cobble together a lot of people who might not agree with each other on a lot of issues, the Republican big tent philosophy aims to build a coalition on the belief that conservative policies are good for everyone involved. As a result, conservatives tend to resist over-indulging on big government solutions on single issues, instead preaching a broader philosophy that would likely encompass the largest group of voters.

The big tent philosophy says we can disagree on a some issues, but we will agree on most issues based on a liberty and freedom. If a person believes in economic liberty, religious freedom, small government but also gay marriage they will overall fit in better with the Republican Party than not. The big tent welcomes them. The reality is that people will never completely agree with each other on every issue no matter what party they join. But what philosophy do people agree with most issues on and how can those issues be emphasized over wedge issues?

That is perhaps the big problem facing Republicans today as they struggle to emphasize conservative ideas that are popular and instead get trapped debating issues that most people do not care about. Plenty of this is planned by Democratic opponents and the media, but Republicans still have the obligation to eloquently make a case when they get the chance.

The Negative Side Effect of the Big Tent One of the political side effects of the Big Tent philosophy is that conservative politicians often get accused of "ignoring" certain voter groups. So, if we don't propose 100 favorable laws, subsidies, or advantages to a given group, we are attacked for not caring about them. But conservatives believe in true equality, true freedom, and believe that every person has the chance to be as successful as they want to be. We believe in policies that should be beneficial to everyone, not beneficial to some and harmful to others.

That does not mean that conservatives avoid targeted issues that are results-oriented and effect certain groups. But it is typically not done an epidemic full-scale pander level. And a pro-growth freedom that is good for a city in Texas should be equally beneficial to a struggling city. Are Conservative Politicians Turning to Single Issue Arguments?

One of the big concerns within the conservative movement today is that conservative leaders are afraid that they are losing substantial ground electorally and heading into pander mode. But the problem is true. With such a high percentage of low-information and single-issue voters, how do you connect with those people who might mostly agree with you, but are being excessively courted with government excess by your opponents? Conservatives will be looking to see how current tea-party supported Republicans like Marco Rubio and Rand Paul handle issues such as illegal immigration and taxation.


  • About the above articles - quite the diverse views! 
  • If Trump wins on Tuesday - and he just may! - the issue of "building a 'Big Tent' coalition" can be put to bed!
  • But if he loses, the GOP has to ask, "can we put the Big Top up again? How do we do it?"
  • What must be solved (to varying degrees):
    • How to appeal to women
    • How to appeal to Blacks. I think Trump is onto something with his New Deal For Black America . This article reports Trump polling better with black voters than Romney. Will have to be seen if this is accurate.
    • How to appeal to Hispanics
    • How to appeal to young Americans [my 30-somethings: one for Clinton, two for Johnson]
    • How to retain and re-energize the religious right. This link is representative of an evangelical who is not voting for Trump. I've seen perhaps a hundred or more like this.
    • And get those “missing five million” white men to vote!
Update: Latinos surging - probably not for Trump / GOP

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