Seen in tents

We begin with a song by Slade:

See chameleon
Lying there in the sun
All things to everyone
Run runaway

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.



  1. Jeff Brokaw »

    31 December 2009 · 10:01 am

    Yay to all that.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the real divide in this country is between the politically-connected and regular folks like us. Big government corruption and rent-seeking is the enemy of all of us, whether we are Left, Right, or whatever.

    Which is one reason that I would nominate Andrew Breitbart for some kind of political genius of the decade award. Or maybe President …

    Anyway, enough of that. Happy New Year to you, Chaz, and to all Dustbury readers! One of my favorite hangouts, full of reasonable and funny people. We even disagree sometimes, yet without calling each other names! Imagine that.

  2. Freshly Moved, Judiciously Rewarding Associates : The Other McCain »

    4 January 2010 · 8:59 pm

    […] Dustbury notes that “The antithesis of ‘all things to everyone’ was Ronald Reagan” while linking the political moralism post. […]

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