Turns out I'm a 'RINO' After All

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
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During President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address on January 20, 1961, the new Democrat president famously proclaimed: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” as he challenged all Americans to contribute in some way to the common good of the country.


Imagine the consequences if a Democrat running for any office in today’s America were to make that same proclamation. What would we hear — from Democrats themselves?

Unhinged charges of racism, white supremacy, attacks on equality, and demands for “racial equity” — and worse — would abound. Hence today’s Democrat Party bears little resemblance to the Democrat Party of JFK. Sadly, the same can be said of the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan.

First as governor of California and later as president of the United States, Reagan, and his “Reagan Revolution,” though more moderate than he intended, energized the conservative movement in America, the heyday of which came during the Gipper’s time in office from 1981 until 1989. The slide then began.

With few exceptions, my oh my how today’s Republican politicians have changed.

In an effort to keep this op-ed from getting out of hand — lengthwise — I’m going to encapsulate the recent salient points I believe are responsible for further running the one-time party of Reagan into the ditch.

First and foremost, the GOP circular firing squad rivals that of the best of the Democrat Party. In essence, we now see a party divided into two main factions: the Donald Trump faction, and what I’ll call the Kevin McCarthy faction. Moreover, there are crossovers in each faction at odds over either or both men.

For example, Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, among the most avid Trump loyalists, also supports Kevin McCarthy’s bid for the 118th Congress Speakership. But Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, also a wildly supportive Trump backer, is vehemently opposed to McCarthy securing the gavel. Once pals, Gaetz has now turned on Greene for her support of McCarthy, in November declaring: “At the first opportunity, he will zap her faster than you can say Jewish space laser.” Um, okay.


And What of Trump?

I won’t beat to death the former president’s ill-advised decision to call the popular governor of Florida “Ron DeSanctimonious,” or his recent very public Mar-a-Lago dinner with anti-Semitic nutbag “Ye” and his pals, white nationalist Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and whacked-out alt-right activist Milo Yiannopoulos, but Trump’s total meltdown after Elon Musk’s release of internal Twitter documents and communications, which conclusively proved that the Democrat National Committee and the 2020 Biden campaign successfully goaded the Big Tech giant into suppressing reports on the Hunter Biden email scandal, was off the charts and unacceptable for any individual seeking the office of President of the United States:

Trump virtually called for the suspension of the U.S. Constitution, including that he be “declared” the “rightful winner,” a 2020 election “do-over,” and other such nonsense after conjuring in his obsessive mind that Twitter’s suppression of Hunter Biden stories was “proof” that the election was “rigged” and “stolen.”

Emphasis, mine:

 So, with the revelation that MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, [sic] the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Resulst of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION?

A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great “Founders” did not want, and would not condone, [sic] False & Fraudulent Elections!


Of course “it” does nothing of the kind, but given Trump’s arm’s length relationship with the U.S. Constitution (see: pressuring Mike Pence to attempt an unconstitutional action), his latest irrational declaration should surprise exactly no one. 

To be sure, I’m not suggesting Twittegate didn’t impact the results — I’m only saying to what extent cannot be determined. Setting aside the reality that the impact of Twittergate was unquantifiable in terms of 2020 election ballots, Trump’s continuing illogical “logic” remains beyond problematic: In my not-so-humble opinion, Donald Trump cannot win the 2024 presidential election, regardless of how many loyalists vote for him. Critically, both parties must capture a substantial percentage of the independent vote, for example — and more.

Following the midterms’ red trickle, Virginia’s Tim Anderson — labeled by some as a Trump-style Republican for his attention-getting combativeness and staunchly conservative politics — became the first Virginia Republican to call for a full breakup with Trump.

He will lose Virginia. Just like he’s lost two other times. And he’s going to bring us all down with him,” Anderson, R-Virginia Beach, said in an interview Wednesday afternoon. I should have said this two years ago. The voters, when they’re looking at all the chaos on the Democrat side, they look over at us and they say, ‘No thank you, we’re not going to vote for the Trump people.

I’m going to be the first person to come up and say: ‘No more.’ Leaders lead. And I’m trying to lead. There’s no chance we’re going to sway light blue Democrats our way ever again if we’re going to be wearing red Make America Great Again hats; it’s just never going to happen.


Meanwhile, as McCarthy seeks to fend off opposition from members of his party, the California Republican is receiving support from some unlikely allies.

As reported by the Washington Examiner, a number of prominent conservative media figures are backing McCarthy’s bid and denouncing House Republican “saboteurs” who have publicly vowed not to vote for the minority leader. One such prominent conservative media figure is Fox News host Mark Levin, who said it as only he can, that Gaetz and other Republicans opposed to McCarthy are “boneheads.”

Who are these five boneheads? How can they be so stupid? They know they have no plan B. They know they have no plan at all! The other conservatives in the Freedom Caucus and House where they have finally figured this out, but what’s what these five knuckleheads? They’re playing right into the hands of the Democrats, right into the hands of the establishment Republicans, right into the hands of the media!

Turning Point USA founder and CEO Charlie Kirk echoed Levin’s thoughts, although I doubt that Kirk was screaming while doing so:

The freedom caucus should be pushing for concessions out of McCarthy, not throwing the speakership to Dems. This is very dangerous and needs to stop. What is the plan?

There is no Republican plan, Charlie — for anything.


So here’s the deal. You damn near need a scorecard to keep track of who’s who, and where, in the Republican Party, which brings me to one of my favorite (most amusing) labels: “RINO.” Simply, who’s a RINO, these days, and who isn’t? Very confusing indeed. [sarc] I mean, what’s the definition of a RINO in the first place?

Mommy, What’s a RINO?

Since its modern-day debut in 1994, the acronym RINO — Republican In Name Only — has been used to describe Republicans characterized by insufficient loyalty to certain conservative principles, but during the Age of Trump, “RINO” has been widely used by Trump and his loyalists as an ad hominem to attack any Republican — from moderate to staunch conservative — deemed disloyal to the former president. Thing is, it doesn’t end there.

A quick look back at the original definition — insufficient loyalty to conservative principles — explains why. Ronald Reagan was a Constitutional Conservative first, and a Republican last. As I illustrated earlier, “Democrat,” “Republican,” and “RINO,” et al., are nothing more than labels — and political labels mean different things to different people.

However, constitutional conservatism is neither a label nor does its definition change.

In its simplest terms, constitutional conservatism describes the political views of an individual, party, or movement that adheres to the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law while following traditional conservative values. Constitutional Conservatives believe in a limited government that trusts the unlimited potential of the American people, and an economic system — capitalism — that embraces an abundance philosophy in opposition to a scarcity mentality; a zero-sum game set of beliefs.


Logic and common sense, therefore, dictate that one who believes in and works toward the above definition is a Constitutional Conservative more so than a member of the Republican Party, and certainly not a “RINO,” as gleefully smeared by some, today.

As was the case with Ronald Reagan, and Reagan conservativism, I’m a “Republican in Name Only” in the sense that I’m Constitutional Conservative, first and a “Republican” voter, second, simply for the purpose of supporting candidates I believe have the best chances to defeat Democrats.


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