Political pundits, candidates and my barber all have their theories when it comes to politics, but in reality it is all quite simple.
Whoever gets the most votes wins — sort of. Of course, the electoral college system throws this theory off a little bit, but I think it is safe to at least note whoever gets the most votes in each of the 50 states wins that state.
To do that a candidate must be at least electable to a majority of voters.
As I worked on Republican campaigns in early adulthood and in my teen years, every now and then I would hear somebody refer to my party as the “big tent party.”
The fact is on election day whoever has the biggest tent wins. I believe Republicans, as a party, have tried to make their tent bigger in the past. The GOP was the party of lower taxes. If you worked and foot the bill for America, in the past, you ought to have been a Republican. That alone is a lot of folks.
I remember well the Bush years of courting the Hispanic vote. Whether any of it worked or not, there was at least an effort to make the tent bigger. We won some elections, so I guess our tent was at least bigger than that of the other side of the aisle.
I was also a Republican for some elections in which we didn’t have the bigger tent. I was on the front line, making phone calls, knocking on doors and pounding signs in the 2006 shellacking.
That stated, even through the worst of times I have remained a Republican. I still had a place in our tent.
The core beliefs of that tent were important. Lower taxes and fiscal responsibility ought to be priorities for anybody footing our country’s bill. National defense is, at its core, the most important thing the federal government does. I fear many Democrats don’t believe I have an inherent right to own and possess firearms, and I believe life begins at conception.
Even through the bad years, my set of core beliefs kept me in the tent, but now I’m left with one really important question.
Where’s the tent?
The answer to that question is that we don’t have the smaller tent right now. We really don’t have a tent — at least not a nice big one which houses a whole bunch of people who agree on a few core beliefs.
Instead, my beloved party has become a tent city, and 2016 has been the worst natural disaster to hit our little assembly of poorly constructed hooches, as we are likely to hand what should have been an idiot-proof election to the other side.
I took a walk around the GOP tent city recently. I just wanted to find my place. I have a right to be there. This is where my tent used to stand.
First, I arrived at a pretty decently sized but rickety old thing. Everybody there was wearing Ted Cruz shirts. These people blindly follow a man who tried to say religious liberty was the number one issue in 2016.
What? Apparently, these folks believe shoving their sets of beliefs and “values” down the throats of every citizen is more important than keeping our country safe and fixing the economy.
After all, this candidate appointed someone who believes natural disasters are a punishment for homosexuals to chair a “religious liberty” committee.
Thankfully, Ted’s tent wasn’t big enough, and a hurricane destroyed his “religious liberty” chair’s house.
I went to another tent which looked similar to Ted’s. It was one inhabited by many North Carolina Republicans. House Bill 2 made it clear that if you’re not a card-carrying member of the N.C. Values Coalition (a faction identified as a hate group), you shouldn’t be calling yourself a Republican in this state.
When these tents put their radical, bigotry-filled social agendas ahead of all those good core Republican beliefs I hold, I realized I would never let myself be seen in those tents.
There was another tent down the way. This tent was filled with nervous people talking to themselves. Turns out those folks were just good old “establishment” Republicans trying to figure out what to say about Donald Trump. One must have recognized me as a reporter. They scattered as I neared them.
Then I arrived at another tent. This tent was impressive on the outside, but it was filled with empty promises and one-line remarks with no factual foundation. The folks here were building a wall to keep Mongolians out. They told me they intend to bill the Mongolian government for the work.
People here had no plan for America, but kept yelling at the “establishment” tent. They called them “politically correct.” I guess that’s an insult these days.
Here’s the fact. In the current state of my party, we stand to lose a lot. The Democrats have a bigger tent than us, because we don’t really have a tent.
We need to identify the core political beliefs which make somebody a Republican and also respect our differences. When 2016 is over, we can then begin building a tent bigger than that of the other party. Until that happens losses will be plentiful.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.