Steele and the progressive GOP

Tent op kamp, originally uploaded by florisla.

Thanks to the Man of Steele's off-the-cuff comment to GQ, we now know that he is what one acquaintance called a PCR – pro-choice Republican. This has resulted in the expected backlash.

But also folks are talking about how this may be the first skirmish in a battle to re-establish the GOP's progressive tradition. (The Republican Party, after all, was formed in part by abolitionists.)

It's in the interest of better understanding that possible return-to-progressivism that I draw your attention to former Republican Congressman Jim Leach's comments on Politico,

Yes, this is all about the most overused metaphor in Republican politics – the tent. At issue is not only how big it is but how many doors it has.

The pillars of Goldwater’s tent were decidedly of an individual rights, individual initiative nature. They were not considered strong or compassionate enough to hold a majority of the American people, at least at the time. The tent therefore got broadened [...]

[H]owever, as these new entrants came in the front door, traditional “country club” Republicans who had been comfortable with Taft, Eisenhower, Goldwater, Ford, and the gentler sides of Reagan and G.H.W. Bush began walking out the back of the tent. They – doctors, lawyers, business leaders – found their values and their leadership challenged.

To adapt a phrase from another Titan of the GOP,

"The Republican Party is not a big tent. You don't just dump stuff in it.
It's a series of doors!"

In all seriousness, my reason for bringing this up is to warn the earnest liberals out there. I'm still not certain that they are aware that 2010 will be a tough year. I'm even less certain that they are prepared to take on Republican opponents who have re-discovered their progressive heritage. It could get messy.

It seems to me that the primary difference between progressive Democrats and progressive Republicans is the unions vs. corporations debate. Maybe that deserves its own post, but I don't think it's a debate Dems automatically win...

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