A Big Tent?

On the PBS Newshour tonight there was a discussion on the future of the Republican Party. Mark Shields made the comment that they needed to become “A party looking for converts rather than heretics,” which is a perceptive diagnosis of the problem. The party is beset with litmus tests, pledged, commandments, etc. and these serve to exclude people. Until a party promote reasons for people to join, rather than look for reasons to exclude them, it will remain in the minority.

This highlights the issue with the many hack groups demanding that candidates sign their “pledges.” These pledges aren’t a positive development, by which I mean that the implied contract isn’t “if you sign this, people will vote for you.” The implied contract is “if you don’t sign this, we won’t vote for you.” This is a negative viewpoint, which brings us back to the issue of converts vs. heretics. I would be interested to see a candidate who takes a stand on his unwillingness to give in to every demand on his ideology. It would at least be a change, and perhaps a candidate who stands up to electoral threats would give voters something to vote for, rather than against.

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