George Graham

“Big Tent” Political Philsosophy is Just Plain Fraud

Those smug political pundits are wagging their fingers and shaking their heads over a recent trend among Republican politicians to “play to the party’s base.” The way the commentators see it, that spells doom for the party because it makes the Republican “tent” smaller. In other words, it provides no room for members who do not share the party’s “core beliefs.” But I applaud this trend.tent

Of course I don’t agree with the party’s “core beliefs.” But I am glad to see its members owning up to their ideas. At least I’ll know what I’m voting against.

You might cynically conclude that I have ulterior motives, that I want the Republicans to fail and see the narrowing of their scope as a sure path to failure. But that depends on how you define “fail.” In my mind, the Democratic Party has failed. And it was the “big tent” philosophy that caused that failure.

The Democratic Party includes so many politicians who are plainly not Democrats that nothing is getting done in Congress – nothing of substance, anyway. Every piece of important legislation is being watered down to accommodate “Blue Dog” Democrats. The joy I felt in November has dissipated. I felt then that with Democrats in control of the government again, America would get desperately needed social legislation. Another attempt to perfect the Great Society loomed on the horizon. It was change I could believe in.

But I was conned. To achieve “victory,” the Democratic Party has recruited conservatives who have no intention of building a Great Society. Their interest is in protecting the status quo. They are, in effect, Republican “moles” who were able to infiltrate the Democratic Party because of its “big tent” strategy.

“Big tent” tactics are a disservice to voters. We have a right to know what we are voting for. In other democracies, each party runs on a platform that the people may accept or reject. In America, anyone who wants to represent a party may do so regardless of his or her beliefs and goals. That’s just plain fraud.

Politicians should be required to support the platform of the party they represent. And the platform should be clearly presented to voters so we can make an informed choice. That would make elections much more meaningful.

I would be happy to see the zealots of the Christian right, the white supremacists and other Obama haters take over the Republican Party, leaving the small-government penny pinchers to join the Libertarians. The “conservative” Democrats should join one of those groups or form a party of their own. Then the real Democrats would be able to sell their ideas honestly to the voting public. And an election”victory” might actually have consequences.

If we had political parties that plainly stood for something, we could cast our votes knowing what in tarnation we were really voting for. As it is, we might as well stay home at election time.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for