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Thursday, August 1, 2013

What is a RINO and how do we recognize one?

So, the other day on Facebook, I saw a meme about RINOs from a page called "The Republican Revolution," a group that demonstrates everything that is wrong with the current Republican Party.  The group is insisting on a ideological purity test that fits in with the Tea Party exactly and denounces anyone who strays in the slightest from this narrow-minded view.  This mindset, as I've said before, is self-defeating and is one of the things that has seriously hurt the Republican party over the past several years.

Now, before I go much further, I should really explain the concept of RINO to people.  A RINO is a "Republican In Name Only," aka anyone who is insufficiently conservative enough for the judgmental right.  It is an decently old idea going back to at least the late 90s (that's when I first heard it, but it seemed to have been familiar to people before then).  The idea behind this label is that the Republican Party *MUST* be THE Conservative Party and to deviate in the slightest from this is to commit political heresy.  In other words, only conservatives are allowed within the ranks of the Republican party.  If you are a mushy moderate or a loony liberal (yes, I have heard those labels and oh so much worse!) then you do not belong in the Republican Party.

I think the reason that this idea is self-defeating and stupid is self-evident.  By excluding wide swaths of people from the Party, these people are turning the party from a truly national party into a party which may very well make itself extinct.  A national political party needs to have room for many different types of people.  Given our governmental system, a political party which gives itself an incredibly narrow focus is going to run itself out of existence.  I would like someone to name me a party that was focused on one issue (or point of view) that lasted very long.  If you can think of one, please let me know.  I'll be waiting (but not holding my breath).

In the US, a successful and truly national political party is an alliance between different groups that share a common goal, i.e. a coalition.  These groups may not always get along, but they at least work together.  In the Republican Party, the Tea Party types are increasingly pushing out people who are do not agree with them on all issues, thereby causing a shrinkage of people willing to vote for Republicans and contributing to the idea that the Republican Party is the party of bigoted, homophobic, racist assholes.  That is not my Republican Party.

I hope you have picked up the idea that my title is slightly facetious and sarcastic.  What really annoys me about people like this is that they think that they have the right to decide who is and is not a "real" Republican.  They don't and I resent; with a passion that is almost holy in its intensity; the idea that somehow because you do not agree with the Tea Party that you are not a real Republican.  I am a Republican, but increasingly I am feeling isolated from the party I grew up in and was; until fairly recently; proud to be a member of.

The other thing that gets me is when people who are promoting the idea that the Republican Party needs to reexamine what it stands for are shouted down and denounced.  This, like the RINO idea, is indicative of a group that is becoming increasingly isolated and moribund.  I hope the Republican Party manages to recover itself and become the political party I know it can be.