November 29th, 2012

Confessions of a RINO

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.

8 Responses to “Confessions of a RINO”

  1. Tommy K
    November 29, 2012 at 12:08 pm #


  2. Holmes
    November 29, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    Here’s a big amen from an LDS Republican in Kansas. Even though in my heart I’m a libertarian I am the sponsor of College Republicans on our campus, serve as a precinct committeman in the GOP and attend the local tea party. Unless you are a hard core anarcho-capitalist who has totally given up on the democratic process, as libertarian/Ron Paul republicans we need to keep up involvement in our local and state governments. The federal government is a lost cause at this point–as Connor has explained eloquently.

  3. mike
    November 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    Connor you would make a good DINO as well so long as you stay libertarian at heart i don’t think anyone cares.

    “Principles compatible with the gospel are found in the platforms of all major political parties. While the Church does not endorse political candidates, platforms, or parties, members are urged to be full participants in political, governmental, and community affairs.”

    There are principles that are compatible in both. meaning neither has all of it. you do a great job of arguing that. So I figure you already got it.

  4. outside the corridor
    December 1, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    I certainly don’t think you are alone.

    I am quite partyless at the moment–

  5. jimx
    December 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

    I have been thinking of starting the ‘green tea’ party or the ‘coffee party’. I am joking of course, spinning off of the tea party. Why did they have to ruin a perfectly good beverage?

  6. Clumpy
    December 3, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    I would argue that Republicans and libertarians share one attribute: They are opposed to most of the DNC’s platform. The difference, of course, being that libertarians generally have a set of beliefs to replace it while the GOP defines itself by its opposition to the current administration.

  7. Kelly W.
    December 4, 2012 at 7:36 am #

    Why are the stars upside-down on the elephant symbol? They used to be rightside-up. Why the recent change? Your picture of the rhino with the stars are also upside-down.

  8. Charles D
    December 11, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    I wonder how long it will take for Libertarians to realize that the Republican Party is never going to adopt their principles? Progressives still hold on to the fiction that the Democratic Party will someday adopt their values, even after decades of evidence to the contrary.

    Both parties define themselves by opposition to the other. I would recommend this post as a thoughtful reflection on the problem.

    IMHO the “mainstream” or the power players in both parties are far more representative of the interests of Wall Street and corporate interests than those of their rank and file constituents. Perhaps ordinary Americans should band together to determine what they really want (not so much how it should be achieved) and work to achieve those goals whether within a party or not.

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