The GOP At Risk: A Symposium on the Big Tent Strategy—Ann Stone

Ann Stone

president of Republicans for Choice

The resolution, “The ‘Big Tent’ strategy undermines the principles of the Republican Party,” could only have been suggested by someone who hasn’t been a Republican very long, or who doesn’t understand the core philosophy of our Great Party.

Lee Atwater first suggested the big tent strategy to explain the way in which pro-life and pro-choice Republicans could work together. On the face of it, one might call such a strategy unworkable; but you need only look at the goals both sides have in common to know Atwater was right. What are those common goals? First, both want to work toward a society where abortion does not exist. Second, both want to elect Republicans. I’m sure the first goal must come as a shock to people who equate pro-choice with pro-abortion. That might be true in the Democratic Party, but pro-choice Republicans would like to end abortion by making it unnecessary. We differ with our pro-life counterparts in some, but not all, of our tactics to reach that goal. But since it is a core Republican belief that private individuals working together will always make better decisions than government, within our big tent the ability will always exist to work things out whenever differing opinions about any one issue come between our individual members.

The fact is, pro-life and pro-choice Republicans are working out their differences in many areas of our country without compromising their principles. They are succeeding by focusing on what they have in common. They have found common ground in working together to reform adoption laws and promote programs that curtail teen pregnancy. By promoting abstinence and sex education and even by supporting family planning, Republicans have identified new areas of agreement. In fact, because of our big tent, I believe there is a real chance we may see some positive progress toward reducing the abortion rate through various alternatives that have been overshadowed by the current debate.

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