Jim DeMint Explains How To Build A Big Tent Party The Right Way

by John Hawkins | May 4, 2009 11:26 am

Jim DeMint, perhaps because he was stung by the criticism of his, “I would rather have 30 Republicans in the Senate[1]” wrote one of the best columns I have seen in a long time.

Here’s the key excerpt[2],

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 — the organizing principle and the crucial alternative to the Democrats — must be freedom. The federal government is too big, takes too much of our money, and makes too many of our decisions. If Republicans can’t agree on that, elections are the least of our problems.

If the American people want a European-style social democracy, the Democratic Party will give it to them. We can’t win a bidding war with Democrats.

Freedom will mean different things to different Republicans, but it can tether a diverse coalition to inalienable principles. Republicans can welcome a vigorous debate about legalized abortion or same-sex marriage; but we should be able to agree that social policies should be set through a democratic process, not by unelected judges. Our party benefits from national-security debates; but Republicans can start from the premise that the U.S. is an exceptional nation and force for good in history. We can argue about how to rein in the federal Leviathan; but we should agree that centralized government infringes on individual liberty and that problems are best solved by the people or the government closest to them.

Moderate and liberal Republicans who think a South Carolina conservative like me has too much influence are right! I don’t want to make decisions for them. That’s why I’m working to reduce Washington’s grip on our lives and devolve power to the states, communities and individuals, so that Northeastern Republicans, Western Republicans, Southern Republicans, and Midwestern Republicans can define their own brands of Republicanism. It’s the Democrats who want to impose a rigid, uniform agenda on all Americans. Freedom Republicanism is about choice — in education, health care, energy and more. It’s OK if those choices look different in South Carolina, Maine and California.

A Republican recommitment to freedom and limited government will foster an agenda that will strengthen and invigorate our party. Freedom has worked for our party and our country before. It will again, if we let it.

Note what DeMint is and is not doing here.

What’s he’s not doing is setting down a laundry list of different issues and demanding that everyone agree with his position on every issue to be considered a “good Republican.”

Still, this ain’t football. It’s not all about cheering for “our team.” So, being a “Republican” has to mean something. So, what DeMint lays down are some very broad and inclusive — but also, conservative principles that EVERY Republican — moderate, conservative, libertarian leaning, neocon, paleocon, and social conservative should be able to agree on. If you can’t AT LEAST agree to the incredibly basic principles that DeMint is discussing here, then you’re probably in the wrong political party.

If we can at least say that everyone who buys into those political principles is a Republican in good standing, whether we agree with them on all the issues or not, then we can build a broad, ideologically coherent coalition that can take and hold a majority. From there, we can start to get this country going back in the right direction.

  1. I would rather have 30 Republicans in the Senate: https://rightwingnews.com/mt331/2009/04/why_the_republican_party_is_ps.php
  2. key excerpt: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124121871475178899.html#mod=rss_opinion_main

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