The “Big Tent” leans in more than one direction.

( – promoted by Paul R. Ferro)

On Thursday, June 12, 2014, The Boston Herald published in it “letters to the editor” section part of a commentary submitted by me responding to a column by Adriana Cohen headlined “GOP need to unite, not divide, party.” The following is the full text of my response:

You don’t need to go camping to understand that the concept of a “Big Tent” leans in more than one direction.

For Republicans to broaden the Big Tent, we must be prepared to include those with whom we disagree on a range of issues. And we must be inclusive toward those with whom we disagree, whether they stand to our political left or our political right, as well as to those who espouse libertarian and other independent positions that often transcend the conventional left/right dichotomy.

Too often, those who invoke the Big Tent use it as a means to invite activists with more liberal positions into the GOP, while excoriating those who hold more conservative or “maverick” views.

A recent article by Herald columnist Adriana Cohen demonstrated the pitfalls of a narrow application of the Big Tent. She indicated that the Texas Republican Party excluded Log Cabin Republicans from “equal access” to the state convention. I think we can all agree that a big party with a big heart must open its Big Tent to welcome all contending views, including those out-of-step with the “party brass” in any particular caucus or convention.

Being open to new ideas and to new members is the lifeblood for any growing organization. At the same time, holding secure the values and principles that animate a political party is its heart and soul, uniting supporters across generations and geographical boundaries.

Cohen accurately points out that “the GOP party brass are shooting themselves in the foot” by excluding those holding varying opinions, whose presence will encourage vibrant debate.

Unfortunately, the reaction from the pro-Log Cabin Republicans, themselves, fails to pass the Big Tent test. Instead of challenging their opponents, who after all represent the vast majority of Republicans in Texas, they lashed out, saying: “The Texas Republican Party is stuck in the Stone Age.”  Cohen adds some red-meat language to the mix, referring to the Texans as “ultra-conservatives” and “ultra-right wing.” One expects such divisive labels from Democrats and the liberal media, rather than from fellow Republicans. Particularly from Republicans who want to broaden rather than narrow the reach of the party.

Finally, Cohen offers conservatives from other states some advice “if they want to start winning key elections.” As Massachusetts Republicans, it would be wise for us the show a modicum of humility on this subject. After all, Republicans are winning local, state, and federal elections in places like Kansas and Nebraska, Wisconsin and Wyoming. And, yes, in the Lone Star state of Texas.

We Massachusetts Republicans do have the opportunity to extend a generous outreach to a rich variety of opinions, ranging to our left, to our right, and to those defying easy categories.

Just as we Massachusetts Republicans hope that others can learn something from us, perhaps it’s time for us to admit that we can also learn a few things from others. Let’s start with learning some lessons on how to win more elections.

About JIM LYONS

  • MerrimackMan

    Jim Lyons rocks it again

  • Invitations are not necessary to enroll, and no one can make anyone leave the party (as far as I know). People that are to the left of Obama can join the party if they want, and we have to let them be Republicans. I assume the Texas GOP merely didn’t give the Log Cabin Republicans any stage time at the convention? Or maybe they have antigay planks in their platform? Well as long as there are conventions and platforms, there will be arguments about them, but the thing is, those things aren’t really very important, they aren’t binding on candidates or office holders. So if you don’t like your party’s platform, either you are in the wrong party, or you are in the right party but not really a good fit for it and should keep quiet about it. Humility. Sure, say you disagree about something, have a different opinion, fine, but don’t expect the party to “reach out” and “be welcoming” to you.

  • GS_Bunn

    This letter is a bit of a perversion of the “Big Tent” concept.

    It’s basically suggests you have to tolerate the intolerance being directed towards you if you truly want to fit under the tent somehow.  This is like telling a black man he can’t finish his coffee in your diner and then getting mad when he writes a bad review about your place on Yelp!

    While “holding secure the values and principles that animate a political party is its heart and soul, uniting supporters across generations and geographical boundaries” is valid, you can’t seriously suggest actions like banning LCR from conventions or other things the Texas GOP has proposed like trying to “cure gay people”, are examples of these republican values?

    Furthermore, the official response from LCR’s national executive director was measured and appropriate given the circumstances and can hardly be seen as “lashing out”.  It’s really difficult not read this letter as indirectly condoning the Texas GOP’s action.

    Ultimately though, aren’t we tired of this? Aren’t we tired of these kinds of actions that yet again steer the discourse away from limited government, fiscal conservatism and protecting our individual liberties?  If someone believes in these ideals, and is willing to fight to support them, who really cares if they’re gay?

     

  • GS_Bunn

    This letter is a bit of a perversion of the “Big Tent” concept.

    It’s basically suggests you have to tolerate the intolerance being directed towards you if you truly want to fit under the tent somehow.  This is like telling a black man he can’t finish his coffee in your diner and then getting mad when he writes a bad review about your place on Yelp!

    While “holding secure the values and principles that animate a political party is its heart and soul, uniting supporters across generations and geographical boundaries” is valid, you can’t seriously suggest actions like banning LCR from conventions or other things the Texas GOP has proposed like trying to “cure gay people”, are examples of these republican values?

    Furthermore, the official response from LCR’s national executive director was measured and appropriate given the circumstances and can hardly be seen as “lashing out”.  It’s really difficult not read this letter as indirectly condoning the Texas GOP’s action.

    Ultimately though, aren’t we tired of this? Aren’t we tired of these kinds of actions that yet again steer the discourse away from limited government, fiscal conservatism and protecting our individual liberties?  If someone believes in these ideals, and is willing to fight to support them, who really cares if they’re gay?

     

  • Massachusetts Republicans would do very well to adopt a more libertarian attitude when it comes to “social isssues”. The MassGOP should adhere to their core principles of fiscal responsibility, individual liberty, and personal responsibility while outlining a plan to implement policies that will grow the tax base and make Massachusetts a more business friendly state that can compete on a global stage.

  • deehrox