We begin with a song by Slade:
Lying there in the sun
All things to everyone
The antithesis of “all things to everyone” was Ronald Reagan, as Robert Stacy McCain tells it:
Reagan’s “Big Tent” approach has been misunderstood and misapplied by many of his would-be successors, who have used it as an excuse for Clintonesque “triangulation,” the politics of pre-emptive compromise. But Reagan was an unapologetic conservative, who did not feel the need to talk about being “kinder and gentler” or employ defensive modifiers like “compassionate.”
It helps to remember that Reagan had spent much of his life as a Democrat. While he certainly disagreed with those he left behind, he wasn’t particularly inclined to demonize them; he knew he wasn’t going to be able to push the country in the direction he thought it should go without getting substantial help from folks identified with the other side. Think of it as diversity.
McCain sees some of that in the Tea Party folks:
[T]he Tea Party people exhibit a very Reaganesque “Big Tent” attitude. Go to these rallies, and you’ll find hard-core evangelical pro-lifers and libertarian bikers in happy coexistence, united by opposition to the big-government menace of Leviathan-on-the-Potomac. This is what I’ve called “Libertarian Populism” and — despite the dismissive snobbery of Julian Sanchez — it is wrong to suppose that such hostility toward the elite is mere ressentiment, when a two-decade bipartisan succession of Ivy-educated White House occupants (Yale, Yale Law, Yale/Harvard MBA, Columbia/Harvard Law) have led the nation to its current predicament.
If elitists can get over their fears of the populist mob, and if libertarians can get over their purist demand for “anarchy next Wednesday,” there is a glimmer of hope for a real breakthrough.
One almost has to quote William F. Buckley, Jr. at this point: “I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.” Then again, Buckley was a Yalie.