Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Big Tent

I’ve been thinking a lot about this term. (Big Tent) It is used often in election campaigns, especially presidential elections. The current campaign really requires conservatives to analyze what it means to have a big tent. I agree that we need to bring as many voters as possible into our tent. In my case, it has always been the Republican tent. Now, I am not so sure. I would much rather be a conservative than a Republican.

I am always a little impatient with folks who say they are independents and those who say they cannot decide about candidates. For heaven’s sake, make up your mind. The differences, after all, were clear. The chasm between Democrat beliefs and Republican beliefs was wide and deep. If a voter has a belief system, and all voters should, the choice should be easy.

This presidential election may change that, however. The tent I get under has always been, with few exceptions, the conservative tent. People under this tent believe that the government is unwieldy and does almost nothing well, efficiently, or cost-effectively. It is a bloated, corrupt, influence-peddling, power-hungry behemoth with a voracious appetite that will never be sated, no matter how much we feed it. This monster is necessary for essentially only one reason—to protect us. All of its other functions are subsidiary, at best. When conservatives say protect, we mean national defense, not protection from ourselves. Just see that we are safe and leave the rest of our living to us. In other words, leave me the hell alone. There is virtually nothing the big monster can do that I cannot do better. Leaving me alone means keeping taxes low and regulations few.

Sure, moderates, even liberals are welcome in the conservative tent. But I am reminded of that song a few years back, “Welcome to Texas”. The chorus ended with “now don’t forget to go back home". The theme of the song is come into the tent, but respect our principles, don’t expect us to change to suit you. If you start pulling at the poles that hold the tent up, you will be asked to go back to your own tent.

A John McCain nomination threatens the poles of our tent, even the fabric. I liken it to the millions of illegal immigrants crossing our borders. You are welcome, but come through immigration—legally, and when you do come, assimilate. Sure, you can even keep your culture, but don’t ask us to change ours. Don’t march in the streets waving your own flag, expect us to spend millions educating you and providing you with free health care, and to print everything in two languages because you are unwilling to learn English. That’s impolite and it flies in the face of everything conservatives believe. It tears at the very fabric of this country and the fabric of our tent.

John McCain wants to take over the conservative tent, and he wants to bring his liberal friends with him. Those liberal friends are just stinging him along, hoping to tear down the tent. Sure, I believe in compromise, but not in compromising my principles. If we keep letting liberals tear at our fabric and dig up the stakes that bind our tent poles, then it must fall. I, for one, don’t want to be under a falling tent.

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