What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
As the loosely organized Tea Party emerged onto the national scene in advance of the 2010 midterm elections, hard-core conservatives mounted pressure on the less ideologically pure Republicans. As in decades past, the pejorative term ‘RINO’ was widely used to convey that certain party members were Republicans in name only.
I myself used the label when opposing the re-election efforts of former (woo!) Senator Bob Bennett during that same election cycle. Bennett, an establishment Republican whose constitutional infidelity was quite pervasive, was considered an early scalp taken by the Tea Party as they attempted to flex their newly discovered political muscles. Conservative purists countrywide began a coordinated campaign to purge the Republican Party’s ship of its moderate, big-government barnacles.
The RINO term was quite applicable in these circumstances, describing those who were members of the party though were ideological apostates from its platform. In 2010 and before, I called others a RINO. Since that election, however, I have come to realize that I myself am a RINO.
I don’t necessarily consider my RINO-ness to be because of apostasy from a party platform, though I do disagree with many things in the GOP’s official creed. In fact, libertarian-leaning Republicans are often much better adherents to the limited government philosophy inherent in the GOP than are most of its official and well-known standard bearers. My application of the RINO label to myself stems more from the fact that I see the Republican Party mostly as a vehicle through which we can more effectively work towards electoral and legislative victory—not because I necessarily embrace the party’s policies.
This isn’t really as controversial as it may initially seem; if the party’s platform were a litmus test of who was a real “Republican” I am convinced that most of the party’s members would fail because they disagree with one or more of the platform’s statements. Elected Republicans, having been previously nominated by the party, hardly even adhere to the party’s platform when implementing and supporting legislation—so if these folks are praised and supported by the Republican faithful, then it’s quite hypocritical to cast aspersions upon other party members who disagree from time to time.
One could argue, then, that all members of the Republican Party are RINOs.
A political party is simply an organization through which like-minded (but still diverse) people attempt to effect change. Whenever I refer to myself as a Republican, it is not at all a description of my ideological positions or an indication that I agree with what other members of the party have done. It simply means that I belong to an organization that I intend to use, at least for now, to accomplish goals I consider important, namely, the propagation of the principles of individual liberty, private property, and free enterprise.
I am a Republican not in substance (since the foul-smelling substance produced by many party faithful is not something I want to ingest), but in name. I am an advocate of peace and liberty, I will work with any who wish to help me promote these twin ideals (in any or no political party), and for now I have chosen to promote these ideals, in part, through a party that in my state maintains majority control of the government. My affiliation in this organization is not an affirmation of my support for what other Republicans believe or do. It’s simply bus fare to be taken in a certain direction for a limited amount of time.
Those who likewise aim to promote these ideals must transcend political parties and focus on specific policies and people who faithfully promote liberty. Based on where you live and the political realities of your community, you may wish to join another political party or no political party at all to more effectively spread these ideas. Being located in Utah, it should therefore not come as a surprise as to which party I happen to be a member of at present.
RINO it is. For now.