2008 Election Aftermath: Rethinking The “Big Tent”
By employing the filibuster, robustly and, if necessary, frequently, Republicans could once again validate their existence in the Senate, while highlighting the stark contrasts that should separate them from the liberalism of the Democrats. It was the abysmal lack of such contrast on defining issues, for nearly a decade that contributed more than any other factor to public disillusionment with the Republicans.
As a result of this week’s elections, the Republican minority caucus in the United States Senate currently represents the sole remnant of a “firewall” against an uncontrolled implementation of the liberal agenda. With less than a sixty-vote Democrat majority needed to force a vote on any issue, a Republican filibuster is the only means by which the left can be stalled from its overarching and despotic expansion of government intrusion into the lives of the citizenry. So if the filibuster is the only manner in which Republicans can exercise opposition to the left, it should be enthusiastically touted and employed as such.
No doubt, the Democrat hypocrites in Washington, who comprise the most self-serving, partisan, and divisive Congress and Senate in the history of the nation, will now invoke and enshrine their phony version of “unity” as every politician’s highest calling. During the years of a Republican Congress and presidency, every underhanded Democrat attack that could divide the Congress and distract it from its necessary duties, even during a time of war, was considered noble. Yet those same partisans will now shamelessly maintain that any dissent or criticism of the Marxist goals of Barack Obama will represent the height of “un-American” behavior.
Regardless, Senate Republicans have only this avenue by which to fulfill their commitment to those constituents who elected them. Accepting the bogus premise of Democrat “unity” would be a total abdication of this solitary vestige of purpose for having a Republican Party. Therefore, the enormous pressure that will undoubtedly be inflicted on Republicans to attain “unity” should be recognized and rebuffed as the dangerous snare that it is.
Conversely, by employing the filibuster, robustly and, if necessary, frequently, Republicans could once again validate their existence in the Senate, while highlighting the stark contrasts that should separate them from the liberalism of the Democrats. It was the abysmal lack of such contrast on defining issues, for nearly a decade that contributed more than any other factor to public disillusionment with the Republicans.
Spending excesses, the bloating of government in areas where it constitutionally does not belong, along with the concurrent abandonment of its real responsibility to protect American sovereignty, have convinced many in the grassroots that Republicans are no more interested in representing them than are the Democrats. As a result, a once loyal and enthusiastic conservative base became fractured and demoralized.
In a similar manner, Republican acquiescence to Democrat demands to “end the rancor” and “reach across the aisle” have only served to convince America that the Democrats are the true leaders, and indeed deserve to be in complete control. Admittedly, Republicans in the House of Representatives do not possess any means by which to completely stall unwanted legislation, as do their Senate colleagues. Yet they are still in a position to exhibit a unified opposition that would thereafter delineate between those who promote bad law and those who oppose it.
During some brief periods in America’s history, the political landscape was indeed comprised of differing political and philosophical camps whose members shared a common interest in the well-being and future of this nation. Yet for more than three decades, this has not been the case inside the Beltway.
The ascendancy of the 1960s counterculture as a potent political force brought with it a mindset of activity that constituted a war on traditional America. Sadly, too many on the right refused to recognize this aspect of the enormous divide that now defines the political landscape. The brutish and often flagrantly illegal actions among liberals, seen so blatantly during this past week, stand as undeniable proof of this grim state of modern American politics.
For Republicans to respond to such behavior with anything less than a genuinely outraged and truly confrontational manner is to legitimize it and ultimately ensure that incidents of this nature will only continue to increase in frequency and severity. The left is at war with traditional America. It needs to be engaged in that war by an opposing force that, rather than attempting to peaceably accommodate it, recognizes the critical necessity to vanquish it.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Republicans need to rethink and rework their entire approach to the “Big Tent.” Initially conceived by President Ronald Reagan as a means of promoting a cohesive GOP under his worthy leadership, the concept has degenerated in recent years to the point that some Republican “moderates” invoke it as justification for the party to cease standing for anything at all. Not surprisingly (except apparently to those of the D.C. “political class”), every attempt to make political gains through such an approach have proven to be abject failures.
Ultimately, this thoroughly compromised and morally rudderless “Big Tent” has devolved to the point that during the most recent election cycle, it represented nothing more than a conglomeration of disparate personalities. Its boundaries were established and continually moved, not to define any worthy principle, but to make room for the latest aspiring Republican “wannabe.”
The self-destructive futility and absurdity of such a counterproductive approach to governing and leadership was made grimly obvious by the seeming betrayal of the party, at the worst possible moment, by former GOP luminary Colin Powell. Throughout the past decade, the boundaries of the “Big Tent” were stretched to grotesque proportions in a vain attempt to be “inclusive” of Powell and his kind, only to have them utilize their heightened credibility to the benefit of the opposition at critical points in the presidential campaign. A “tent” that accommodates Trojan Horses like Powell sows the seeds of its own defeat.
In contrast, during the current reign of liberal insanity, a conservative party philosophy and platform that focuses on the best interests of the American people will, by definition, represent a starkly different, and eventually very appealing, alternative to the twisted dreams and sinister aspirations of the left. The goals and methods of liberalism never have, and never will, offer a better life for those subjugated under them.
For truly principled and courageous Republicans, this time in the wilderness may seem desperate and bleak. But it also represents an incredible opportunity to underscore the differences that irreconcilably divide right and left. The Republican Party can either continue its futile attempts at appeasement and thus be relegated to irrelevancy, or it can face this challenge head-on and thereby embark on the surest road to its renewal.
Christopher G. Adamo is a resident of southeastern Wyoming and has been involved in state and local politics for many years. He writes for several prominent conservative websites, as has written for regional and national magazines. His contact information and article archives can be found at www.chrisadamo.com, and he can be followed on Twitter @CGAdamo.