THIS is a supplement to our Open Letter to the Republican Party.
A major theme running through the comments to the original post is that if the party’s national leadership downplays issues of sex and religion, relegating them to the states where such matters properly belong, this is somehow a betrayal of our principles. We’d be diluting our purity of essence, and operating a “big tent” to welcome the barbarians into our ranks. That’s the concern. “No big tent!” is certainly Rush’s position, so it’s well worth addressing.
A big tent is not what we’re advocating. Downplaying divisive issues isn’t heresy — especially when those issues are local in nature and distract from focusing on core principles that are vital to the entire nation. It’s not heresy; it’s called “winning elections.” As we said before, this is the tactic adopted by Newt Gingrich in drafting the Contract With America.
Consider this scenario: You’re in charge of the party’s introspective review in the wake of recent electoral failures. Suppose you ask all Republican office-holders to rank a list of items according to their importance to the party. Give them our traditional issues — the Constitution, rule of law, national defense, free enterprise, limited government, low taxes, balanced budgets, and individual rights. And to illustrate the point we’re trying to make, let’s add one more item to the list — public nudity.
Nudity? Is this a joke? No; we’re using it to make a point. We understand quite well that in any test of intelligence, most people would select that as not belonging on the list. But what would be your reaction if someone in our scenario were to rank nudity as issue number one?
You’d ask around to learn who he is. Oh yeah, you’re told, that guy! They call him Mr. Fig Leaf. He shows up at all the meetings, and he’s always ranting about the evils of running around naked. Before and after meetings he’s in the parking lot handing out garish bumper strips that exhort: “Conceal your genitals! Vote Republican!”
Running on a platform emphasizing the shame of Adam and Eve, he somehow got himself elected to a state’s school board — probably in Texas or Louisiana, or maybe Kansas. Now he’s an outspoken office-holder, a member of our party, and you need to figure out what to do with him.
Here’s what we’d recommend: Keep him in the closet. Don’t let the press near him. And for God’s sake, don’t let him get near a TV reporter. You know what the opposition would do if they got even a few seconds of that guy on tape. He’d be all over the news, now and forever, with his party label prominently displayed. That’s how the game is played.
Our point is this: Although most of us agree with Mr. Fig Leaf that people shouldn’t be strolling around downtown in the nude, we understand — as he does not — that eradicating social indiscretions isn’t the purpose of our party. We also understand that Mr. Fig Leaf, our single-issue colleague, cannot — under any circumstances — be permitted to speak for our party or to have a role in defining its purpose. This is true even if there’s a fair-sized faction who think as he does. We want their votes, but not their voices. This is a delicate and difficult matter, but it’s also essential. Yes, he and his faction will be insulted. (After all they’ve done for the party, etc.) Nevertheless, he’s got to be closeted or he’ll sink us all.
Please note that by consigning Mr. Fig Leaf to the closet, we are most definitely not advocating a big tent. We’re not reaching out to the nature boys with a pro-nudity platform, nor have we compromised our opinion that people should be clothed in public. We are, however, realistically aware that nudity is not the concern of a national political party. We are also aware that a Presidential candidate who runs on a party platform mentioning nudity (or creationism or abstinence, or whatever) is unlikely to be elected. That is not what most people look for in a President.
Sticking to our vital national issues, while avoiding the distraction of divisive local matters, is not a compromise. It’s a program for victory.
Mr. Fig Leaf will call this a sell-out. We call it “reality.” Reality is more than a jealous mistress; she’s the only girl in town.
Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.