No one wants to be unpopular, unwanted, or – worse - to feel used and abused. Yet for a significant portion of the Republican Party, many are encouraged to express their political beliefs only on Election Day. But when it comes to discussing the direction of the Party nationally and the Country in general, they better toe the most Conservative of party lines or prepare to be labeled.
For the past several years, it has become clear to self-described “moderate Republicans” that we are to sit quietly in the back; keep our thoughts to ourselves; and let the “real” Republicans make the grown-up decisions!
Yes, we are the RINOs (Republicans In Name Only). And it’s getting more than a little tiring.
Used to be that various permutations of the Republican value set were welcomed in the development of the GOP platform. We share the same values that fought slavery; checked the spread of post-WWII Communism; and punished the protagonists of radical Islamic terror.
We were welcomed in a strong coalition that valued – above everything – an efficacious American system of government. Smaller bureaucracy, productive budgets and spending, and compassionate solutions to social problems were the mantras of Goldwater and Reagan that we all worked towards.
It was a coalition of minds, accepting of moderately divergent views toiling in unison on core values we all shared.
Now, you dare not step off the strict Conservative reservation or risk the dreaded RINO label! This is an issue I have spoken of before in frustration at the lack of cooperation nationally and the loss of American governance.
Oh, we are here all right, hunkered down in our fox holes; reluctant to poke our heads above ground level. We seem to make such inviting targets.
Many like me, who live in largely suburban-metropolitan areas where some of us have evolved politically over time from the Liberal leanings of youth towards more conservative views on matters of economics and national ideals, have taken solace in the age-old adage that “All politics are local.” We work to keep our communities on sound fiscal footings, our schools and municipal infrastructures efficient and lean, our neighborhoods safe; and try to apply those same principles to County and State government.
But we dare not speak of our moderate approaches to social issues and the process of pragmatic governance, particularly on a National level. Because if we do, we know immediately where we stand with the more assertive Voices of the GOP.
RINO! You would think we were traitors to The Cause.
Certainly, if The Right wanted to portray us as CINOs (Conservative In Name Only), I wouldn’t complain. CINO sounds more pleasant than RINO too! But in the “good old days” you could indeed be less than Big C Conservative and still be considered a stand-up Republican.
Not so much any more.
Harrop makes a point which I believe go directly to the GOP Losses in the last two Presidential elections. Both John McCain and Mitt Romney were weak (McCain) or weakened (Romney) candidates once they went head-to-head with Barack Obama.
McCain was a horrible presidential candidate, although it’s difficult to believe he could have beaten the first African-American candidate regardless. Instead, he was simply the last Crash Test Dummy to survive the 2008 GOP Primary Candidate Roast. It wasn’t even that he was “conservative enough” to win the Party’s pageant. He was simply smart enough to stay on the periphery and survive the carnage.
In Romney’s case, for an election he should have been well-positioned to win, he was faced with the choice of moving hard to the Right to win the nominating campaign. Then he was faced with the prospect of a convention revolt to bring in a more Conservative nominee.
When he had finally nailed down the GOP’s endorsement, he was not only unrecognizable as the successful, bipartisan Governor of perhaps the most Liberal state in The Union, he had stumbled into several verbal traps that plagued his campaign throughout the National Election!
Defeat snatched from the jaws of Victory!
Used to be our moderate positions were viewed as the route to effective compromise, the bridge from one Far Side to the other Far Side. The way efficient Governance was effected.
Not so much anymore …
Now we’re the ones stuck in No Man’s Land watching the rockets screaming over head between the Right and the Left. That is when BOTH sides aren’t trying to outflank us and pick us off!
True story …
In the Spring of 2012 and the run-up to the Presidential Election, I was asked to participate in a TV show involving a round-table discussion of political issues, where two Democrats were to be paired off against two Republicans. It was a small local cable access station in Abington, PA; and the gig lasted all of two shows before the Producer up and retired. But I was flattered, and it was a trip just to be asked.
The experience was fun. I held my own despite the nerves. But it was clear that I was the more moderate of the two Rs participating that night.
After the first episode taped, my far more Conservative Republican counterpart and I went out to eat. And our dinner conversation revolved around our various positions on a number of political and social issues. When I wasn’t asked back for the second episode, but was mistakenly sent an e-mail with the agenda for episode 2. I checked around and found out that my spot had been taken by a much more conservative Tea Party member.
The message – to me at least – was pretty clear. Not Conservative enough …
Returning to Harrup’s question, my theory is that the RINOs – us RINOs – have tired so much of the frenetic fire fights, many of us have simply dropped out of the National Debate. We draw fire from one side simply through association with a more conservative set of governing ideals with which we agree. Then we get outflanked by those who believe us to be not “conservative enough” across the board.
No longer is it good enough to say we support a strong National Defense, the right to bear arms, and the need for sane, sustainable economic policies. No, we must toe the entire line, including those positions on social issues which many of us believe weaken our beliefs in the sanctity of Individual Freedoms.
Every new iteration of the GOP seems to pull farther and farther away from us. The Tea Party has a funny way of concerning itself with issues that never would have crossed the minds of the original Boston Tea Party contingent.
Libertarians appear to be the most attractive alternative until their dogma on international relations and geopolitical theory threatens a short-sighted return to a 1920s mindset, which turned into a World War disaster in the decades to follow. And who wants that?!?
So what’s a RINO to do?
- Keep working the Local political scene to protect what you have and keep your streets and neighborhoods safe.
- Promote those core Republican values as they relate to Government, Economics, and the Rights of the Individual. You may not agree with the recent strategy and tactics of national Republicans, however that’s no reason to abandon the economic values and limited government approach that makes the most sense locally.
- Don’t back down from the kind of conservatism you believe is best for the Country as a whole. Moderate is not a dirty word!
- Cooperate at the County and State level with fellow Republicans and like-minded Democrats to promote Business growth and expansion, more jobs, lower taxes, and compassionate solutions to social problems.
- Be mindful that taking pride in the concept of Individual Liberty requires the Freedom for individuals to define their own way of life on their own terms, according to their own set of values.
- And above all, always wear your helmet and body armor; and keep your head down!
If you appreciate the core values of true Conservatism, remember that it’s easier to instigate change from the inside. A true Conservative would not leave because they are disenchanted with Leadership. They fight for what they believe in!