This question never seems to go away, especially for Democrats. How big should the tent be? Or, put another way: What is the range of ideological perspectives that can/should be accommodated within the party?
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md) said on Friday that Democrats need to be a “big tent” party amid recent questions about particular candidates and whether they are “sufficiently progressive.”
NARAL, the abortion rights group, was critical this past week of the DNC for supporting Omaha, Nebraska mayoral candidate Heath Melo, who has in the past “supported policies restriction abortion rights.” And on that same theme, Sen. Bernie Sanders said he did not know if Georgia House candidate Jon Ossoff was a true progressive.
“I think we have to have a big tent,” Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the Oversight panel and a frequent television presence for the party, said in an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“Because it’s one thing to say, ‘OK, I don’t want to be bothered with these folks.’ It’s another thing to say, ‘Let’s pull them under the tent, so we can be effective and efficient in getting something done.’ Period.”
The Hill notes that “some Democrats have called recently to open the party up to opposing viewpoints in an effort to expand its reach and appeal to voters who may not align with certain planks of the Democratic platform.” Clearly others within the party have concerns.
No doubt there are limits when it comes to who people feel they can work with. But I would suggest that if the goal is actually getting things done, one ought to try very hard to have a liberal view of which potential allies are welcome.
It’s not about you, it’s about the cause.
A comment I once heard ascribed to the late folk singer/social activist Pete Seeger comes to mind: If you’re comfortable with your coalition, it’s too small.