‘Big tent’ no more: RNC’s Steele says GOP is a hat


Here’s more evidence that the GOP is still struggling to find fitting metaphors to talk about itself. The party was likened to a miffed Eminem by Gov. Tim Pawlenty at the College Republicans’ national confab over the weekend, while at another of the convention’s sessions, RNC chair Michael Steele was coming up with imagery of his own. Steele told the audience that “no one knows what the hell it means” when the GOP refers to itself as a “big tent.”

So he offered another analogy: The GOP is a hat.

Some people wear a hat frontwards, others cocked to the left, he explained. Some wear it backwards, he added, echoing a past statement,”because that’s how they roll.” But “the strength of the party is in this: … the fact that you’re willing to put the damn thing on… The problem we’ve had as a party is: too many of our friends, neighbors, colleagues are taking the hat off, because we’ve decided we don’t like the way they wear it… The GOP is not about how you wear the hat, but the fact that you want to wear the hat.”

A tent large enough to fit all kinds of people seems a more compelling idea than a hat that can be worn as personal preference dictates. But maybe the new metaphor has less to do with how the cap fits than with how the old metaphor doesn’t.

When longtime Republican Sen. Arlen Specter left the party to become a Democrat in late April he used the metaphor: “Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right.” And many news outlets picked up the lingo. The San Francisco Chronicle said the “‘big tent’ shrinks“; The Week ran a cartoon showing an elephant-shaped tent flying a “Conservatives only” flag; and The Hill wrote that the “giant swishing sound you’re hearing is the GOP’s ‘big tent’ being folded up and packed away.”

Hats off to the new branding.
Here’s the video:

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