No More RINOs

This week’s Courier Herald column:

Dear Republicans, it’s time to retire the word “RINO”.

That’s right. It’s become a very comfortable word for many, even for those of you who spell it “RHINO” – which is just silly.  After all, if you’re determined to call someone a “Republican In Name Only”, why do you want to confuse the issue and call someone infiltrating the party of elephants a rhinoceros?

The term was once used to identify a Republican that actively supported the agenda of the opposition party against those of the Republican agenda.  It has now become an overused lazy pejorative carelessly thrown about by purists any time they observe or hear something that does not conform to their personal world view – regardless whether or not the “RINO” in question has actually strayed from the party position.

Determining exactly what the party’s position is these days is a large part of the problem.  After all, there is no clear national leader of the Republican Party these days.  Many of those who want to reshape the party in their own image have taken to calling people actually elected to our Republican form of representative government RINO’s. 

Speaker John Boehner – the party’s highest ranking member and someone in charge of actually crafting and implementing the official Republican agenda for Congress – is often the subject of this name calling.  This is done without any sense of irony from those who would question whether the Republican leader elected by Republican legislators is actually a Republican.

Boehner and other “establishment” types are not the only ones that suffer the derision.  Recently Pat Toomey has been called RINO for his work on expanding gun background checks.  Rand Paul has received the moniker for saying he’s willing to consider some drone use so far as due process is followed.  And Marco Rubio is currently in the cross hairs from those who originally pushed him to office because he dares to try to craft a solution to the clearly established illegal immigration problem that Washington has too long ignored.

Those slinging the RINO moniker should be judged exactly as our parents taught us when kids taunted us in grade school.  Those that call names usually don’t have the capacity for reason or debate.  Instead, schoolyard bullies use name calling to intimidate when they don’t have a better answer.

This, unfortunately, is only part of a bigger problem within Republican ranks as the party continues to form a consensus as to why the 2012 election was lost.  Many believe it is because the party is not pure enough.  While clarity of message and firmness of resolve may be honestly debated, the conclusion that those who are not “pure” must be driven from the party must be rejected on its face.

A good friend of mine likes to tell me there’s something to remember about having those who are pure in their conservatism and also moderates within the party.  The pure are responsible for giving the party its soul, and without a soul the party doesn’t really stand for anything that matters.

But, he cautions, it is the moderates that actually give the party its power.  For without them, (and the independents they are more likely to identify with), the party with a strong soul will never have a majority.

The Republican Party is having an honest struggle between fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, libertarian leaning conservatives, and national security hawks.  All of these groups’ views are not completely compatible within their own views of limited government.  For the groups to peacefully coexist as a single party there will have to be those who begin to agree to disagree.

If not, the results will be self-evident.  Those who wish to continue to try to intimidate those with whom they disagree and invite them to leave a party by saying their credentials are “in name only” will eventually find themselves in a more pure, more resolute organization.

The downside of this newer, more pure Republican party will be that it will be one of a permanent minority party.

It does not matter if it is the social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, libertarians, or defense hawks that are purged.  The party of “limited government” that cannot make room for any or all of the above will never be able to reach further toward the middle and attract the votes it needs to regain national majority status.


  1. Robin Wheeler says:

    I love this! Oh the names I could call out for using this word when convenient for their personal agenda.

  2. NoTeabagging says:

    Another good reality check on party politics, Charlie. It is obviously not enough to spend every waking hour bashing the other party, whether or not they present a valid idea. The ‘L’ word comes to mind. Extra points are now given to RINOS and NOT-RINOS to bash each other. Name calling and petty schoolyard fights are no longer directly toward the opposing team, they are now used to haze their own members. It is truly pathetic that our entire political system does nothing to work on real problems and valid solutions. It’s all about degrading each other and selling the biggest lie.

  3. seenbetrdayz says:

    Left/Right/Center has little to do with it. The old paradigm doesn’t fit a political environment where two parties constantly play ring-around-the-rosy on the issues. Democrats were vigilantly opposed to PATRIOT act snooping during the Bush administration, only to turn 180 degrees to defend the NDAA. Republicans . . . vice versa now that the powers exercised by the RINO whatever-you-want-to-call-him George Bush are now exercised by Obama. We wonder why political power changes never lead to policy changes, and it is for this very reason.

    Forget terms like left/right/moderate/centrist because at the end of the day, you realize it’s not a see-saw of power that keeps shifting, it’s a merry-go-round.

    As the old bumper sticker goes: “It’s not about left versus right. It’s about freedom versus control.”

    • NoTeabagging says:

      Good analogy. Thanks for reminding us of the perversity – what is acceptable for one administration is impeachable to the opposing party, unless they are the administration of the moment. Yet no one on the merry-go-round or watching from the carnival grounds are quoting George Jetson, “Jane, Jane stop this crazy thing!”

  4. Three Jack says:

    It would be interesting to hear those who fall back on the RINO name calling to actually define what is a RINO in their mind. I would suppose that if you are a socon, anybody who is in favor of a woman making a choice when it comes to birthing is a RINO. If you are a ficon, then more than likely you think anybody who thinks the goverment should have police powers over a woman’s right to choose is a RINO. If you find yourself in the Paul wing of the party, then pretty much everybody else is a RINO.

    The term RINO should be erased from our vocabulary right along with conservative, liberal and any other term that singularly attempts to define a politcally savvy individual. Anybody using the term defines him or herself as an ignorant follower of a political party that is actually the ultimate RINO when it comes right down to it.

  5. DeKalb Wonkette says:

    Amen to Charlie’s post. Labeling serves no purpose other than to reduce arguments to “sides”. The GOP brand is already in trouble! In my first forays into the party, I found other newbies who like me were very reluctant to tell family and friends that they are Republican. So sad!

  6. D_in_ATL says:

    I’ve read this column here before at least 3 times. I’ll break it down for y’all…

    1. Republicans have a problem
    2. something magical and effortless happens
    3. Democrats magically and effortlessly lose

    Nailed it on the last paragraph though.

  7. davidfarrar says:

    Sadly, the State of Georgia is in the process of growing a whole bushel of RINOs, all running after Sen. Chambliss’ senatorial seat in 2014.

    Any senatorial candidate accepting outside the state primary campaign contributions and endorsements is a RINOs, because from a Tea Party perspective, they have already replace the voices of their own constituencies with those of Washington’s special interests. Who but a RINO would do that?

    ex animo

  8. slyram says:

    I love this post because I am a moderate Democrat who feels most comfortable with the No Labels folks. When Sen. Bob Dole talked about President Reagan, himself and others who wouldn’t be welcomed in the current GOP, I applauded. Hell, political parties are secondary to governing and this purge mess from the GOP turns off millions of moderates who would support their candidates and causes on more than half of their agenda.

  9. troutbum70 says:

    Remember when we use to be called, “The Big Tent Party”? Now it’s yeah, come into our tent as long as you are 99.999999 in lock step agreement with everything we say. I’m sure I’ll hear grief about it but one of the worst things that ever happened to the Republican Party is having the VARIOUS Tea Party groups decide to take on the Conservative label and start bashing everyone else. Whatever happened to them being independent? And now with Tea Party groups breaking off from other Tea Party groups it only gets worse. Also it seems every county GOP Chair has to pay them lip service for nothing in return. Well maybe one or two banshees not screaming about how liberal you are!! Yes, I agree it’s time for Graham and McCain to go along with a whole host of other elected officials but the sooner we get back to some sound basics of promoting limited government balanced with a vital and actual working legislative branch, we’ll be wondering the desert for a while. And please let Reagan rest for a while as much as I miss him, new standard bearers are needed. Want to be the “Big Tent” party that stays in control for a very long time? Start with some basics of political outreach and good old fashioned pounding the pavement to garner more people to our side.

    So since Dick Cheney and Ted Olsen support gay marriage, we can start calling them RINOs now? I seriously doubt it. Stupid petty name calling by people who get involved, go off to form this group or that and throw bombs on the side but won’t really get their hands dirty in truly building the grassroots.

    Yes, this message provided for you by an Executive Board member of a metro Atlanta area county Republican Party.

    • Charlie says:

      Dick Cheney and Ted Olsen?

      I actually heard a caller on Erick E’s radio show tonight complaining about Ted Cruz not being conservative/committed enough.

      Ted. Cruz.

      Erick managed to talk him off the ledge, but damn. Just damn.

      Some are so determined to find fault with everyone that in their own mind they’ve already written off Rubio, Toomey, and Paul and have moved on to Ted Cruz.

      Damn. Just damn people.

      • Dave Bearse says:

        Let him jump.

        The GOP comes out ahead by Erickson ignoring the guy and bringing someone into the tent from the center. Who’s the guy going to vote for? A Democrat? And if he stays home, the GOP is ahead because they maintain the same number of votes while the Dems lose one vote.

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