The big tent
: Ira Glass’ This American Life on NPR has become my favorite radio program, for it’s not only the best exercise in story-telling anywhere, it is consistently and delightfully surprising (hear this amazing story about a Hasidic Jew who became an underground rocker and this story about how hard it is to work in Iraq).
This week’s surprise: An entire show devoted to the Republican Party as the inclusive party, the big tent. I told you it was surprising: It’s on NPR (well, PRI, but I tire of splitting that hair) and it’s fair and balanced about Republicans.
The show makes the point that the Republicans are the party that’s growing and they’re doing it, in great measure, by acting open. Whether, in the end, they really are open depends on where you stand and what matters to you and whether you’d feel OK in their tent. The Republicans had Guliani and McCain and Schwarzenegger on the dias and kept the fringes locked in a closet during the convention. But their platform was a document of the concrete-solid right. And from my perspective, Bush is from that solid right (though I know many of that far right would disagree); if he were more open to other views on some issues I’d be more open to him. Still, the show says, the Republicans make an effort at openness while the Democratis, it can be argued fairly, persist in PC dogma and are not open to, say, pro-lifers. On the other other other hand, though, it’s not news that there are gay Democrats but it is news that there are gay Republicans and that’s an indication of relative and historic openness. I could keep this on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand all day but I won’t.
I recommend the show highly (it’s being aired this week; it’s on Audible now; it’ll be on Real next week). You won’t hear mudslinging and hate. You will hear people who honestly disagree within and without the Republican party trying to at least discuss issues. It can happen.