Take your “big tent” metaphor for the Grand Old Party and donate it to the Salvation Army. The implication from that exhausted platitude is that if the party defines itself broadly enough, everyone who wants to can fit in. But that analogy fails on the corollary that a liberally applied self-characterization dilutes the party’s distinction.
The Whigs learned the hard way that if your first priority is to be non-offensive, you will lose membership. In their case, they lost every single member.
What to do? Buy a new metaphor. Consider these words from a friend of mine who plays evenings in a jazz band: “I love Jazz. I love everything about it. I love the freedom, the absolute liberty to shape a well-known song into something the person who wrote it, and every person who ever played it, never thought of. I love the feel, the heart-pounding, blood racing ecstasy of it. I love the cerebral nature of it, the brutal demands it places on a musician's knowledge and experience and presence in the moment. I love its variability, the never-ending variety of shapes and forms and colors it can embody. It is my very first love.” – Nathan Shafer
Juxtapose those sentiments with this actual quote from a member of a high school marching band: “I play the Alto Saxophone… I love band, but I'm scared because I think I won't be able to do it. I don't own a saxophone (I rent the school's) so I can't practice over the summer to perfect my techniques and whatnot, and the band director is REALLY strict! I also have a lot of trouble playing and marching at the same time - which poses a big problem. Overall I'm just scared that I'll fail at it and be laughed at/yelled at because I'm NOT the best at the instrument. I'm just good enough to sound good to an untrained ear.”
As the Democratic Party represents the political left, the Republican Party represents the political right. Leftist ideology seeks uniformity in virtually everything – from the distribution of wealth to the contrast of the sexes. The right celebrates rugged individuality.
In this, the Democrats hold a natural advantage at election time.A centralized band director needs mostly to exude confidence in directing the myriad followers; “I conduct. You march.” The band members each play their assigned piece. It is immediately apparent to everyone when a trombonist is out of synch with the crowd. And there are no solos.
The Republican culture is much the opposite. They play jazz. And not big band jazz, but modal jazz, where everyone plays a solo and nobody is afraid of the band leader. When performed well, the music is phenomenal. And when it is bad, ears bleed.