The PJ Tatler

Curl: GOP Has Become Reagan's 'Big Tent'

I’ve been covering SXSW for the past few days so I’m just now getting caught up on my CPAC reading. Wasn’t there, and all that.

The media goes into and comes out of CPAC singing the same tune from the same sheet of music, year in and year out — the conservative movement is behind the times, stuck in the past, stuck in the mud, and DIVIDED. That’s the biggest one. Every year, no matter who speaks or what they talk about, CPAC means the conservative movement is hopelessly divided, engaged in a civil war, etc and so forth.


The media could be telling an entirely different, and true, story. But it won’t. Joseph Curl does.

Amid the annual Conservative Political Action Conference held outside of Washington, The Associated Press wrote this: “Conservative conference highlights GOP divisions.”

“The nation’s top Republican leaders are courting conservative activists gathered in suburban Washington this week, highlighting the tug of war over the soul of the GOP,” the left-leaning wire service wrote — for the millionth time.

While there are never — ever — stories about discord in the Democratic Party, this constant chorus by the MSM that the GOP is divided is a simplistic, even ham-handed, attempt to make a single point: If the Republican Party can’t even get its own house in order, how could it possibly govern America?

But the know-nothing, couldn’t-care-less press corps misses that the Republican Party really has once again become the “Big Tent” that President Reagan once set as a top goal. It is, as several top party leaders have said recently, full of warriors fighting it out on “the battlefield of ideas.”

Just think of this year: You’ve got conservative constitutionalists like Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. Libertarians cross over for Mr. Paul and tea partyers like Mr. Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio. You’ve got dyed-in-the-wool conservatives like former Sen. Rick Santorum, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and current Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. You’ve got more moderate yet pragmatic politicians like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (and maybe even former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush). And you’ve got establishment Republicans like Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

None, to be sure, fits neatly into any one category: There is crossover support for all from the different camps. But unlike the Democratic Party, where members march in lock step, all parroting the exact same “principles,” there is open debate in the GOP — the Big Tent.


Isn’t this exactly right? Don’t we even see the truth of it right here at PJM, among other outlets on the right? There is no orthodoxy of opinion enforced here, though our writers generally share the same goals, which are saving the country from big government and preserving liberty. There is actual debate — usually civil — going on in the GOP. This is a good thing. It means that we take ideas and each other seriously.

Over on the left, there is orthodoxy and it is enforced or at least rewarded. You won’t see anywhere near the diversity of opinion on the new journolist Vox as you’ll see here and NRO, Hot Air, Reason etc.

The infighting gets tedious and can be counterproductive, I won’t argue with that. But at the end of the day, I would rather be on the side that enjoys a good family argument than be among the groupthinkers that, more often than not, sticks to the party line like Kim Jong Un’s devoted voters.

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