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Archive for: Republican Party

RINOs: Fact or Fiction; Friend or Foe?

by Mark Ciavola

In a year when Republicans stand to make major gains in Congress, potentially taking back the House and making a good run at the Senate, the term “RINO” is being hung around the necks of moderates nationwide. What exactly is a “RINO”, and is it something Republicans should be so obsessed with?

“RINO” stands for Republican In Name Only. The term is meant to suggest that these politicians frequently side with Democrats against traditionally Republican issues like low spending, low taxes and small government. But aren’t we all Republicans In Name Only? After all, the only action required to become a Republican is to check a box on your voter registration form. “Republican” is a party affiliation, and while for some it implies a set of values, it is not an ideology. There are moderates, fiscal conservatives, social conservatives and hard-right Republicans who are both fiscally and socially conservative. The term “Republican” may place you somewhere on a linear value scale, but it does not lock you into one of the above mentioned groups. And why should it?

Let’s take a look at some of those frequently targeted as “RINOs”:

There is perhaps no greater focus of “RINO” anger than the two female Senators from the state of Maine, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. Many conservatives believe these two women should be replaced by more conservative Republicans. But would hard-right Republicans be able to win in a state that is populated by many conservative Democrats and Independents? Prior to Olympia Snowe’s election to the U.S. Senate in the GOP sweep of 1994, her seat was held by Democrats since 1959.

The entire country rallied behind Scott Brown in his bid to defeat Martha Coakley for Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts. Now that Scott Brown is turning out to be a moderate (big surprise?), many conservatives are complaining that yet another “RINO” has made it to Washington. But what is the alternative in the Bay State? Prior to Brown’s upset victory in January of this year, Democrats held that seat since 1926 with the exception of one six-year term. And the other Senate seat in Massachusetts? Democrat John Kerry has held that seat since 1985 when he succeeded Paul Tsongas, another Democrat. The last Republican to hold that seat was Edward Brooke, who left office after losing in 1978. Since Scott Brown isn’t a “real” Republican, should we simply let Democrats continue to have a vice-grip on the state formerly known as Taxachusetts? Aside from going red for Reagan in 1980 and 1984, Massachusetts has gone for a Democrat in every presidential election since 1956.

Michael Castle, U.S. Representative from Delaware, is often labeled a “RINO.” He won election in 1992, a year dominated by Democrat wins thanks to Bill Clinton. He survived the Obama wave in 2008, and succeeded a decade of Democrat-rule in that seat. That’s a pretty strong record for a Republican in a pretty Democratic state.

Richard Lugar, Senator from Indiana, is the only Republican to serve in his seat since 1959. The other seat has been occupied by Democrat Evan Bayh for over a decade. Indiana is a swing state, but it seems the GOP would rather lose elections, than elect a “RINO.”

Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, who lost his bid for re-election in 2006, was considered one of the biggest “RINO” in the U.S. Senate. He lost his seat to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, and the other Senate seat from the tiny state has gone blue since 1937.

Make no mistake, I consider myself to be one of the most conservative people I know. However, even I understand that it sometimes takes a moderate Republican to win in certain parts of our country. The alternative is electing Democrats, which does nothing to help the GOP from taking back Congress. We should also not be scaring moderates to go far-right in order to avoid the “RINO” label, causing them to lose support at home in a swing state.

Rahm Emanuel, for all his faults, orchestrated super-majorities in both houses because of a strategy used in both 2006 and 2008. Conservative Democrats won election in traditionally Republican and split districts, leaving a dizzy GOP in their wake. Republicans seem unwilling to use the same strategy to win seats in traditionally Democrat districts and split districts, by allowing moderates to win. Does this mean I would favor a moderate Republican in a traditionally red district or state? Of course not, but running moderates in swing districts may be the only way the GOP can win there.

With that said, there’s a difference between a “RINO” and a traitor. Many Republicans believe the GOP should be reaching out to various minority groups with a message of conservative values like small government, personal freedom and fiscal responsibility. They believe gays should be able to serve openly in our military, provided they abide by the military code of conduct. They believe our immigration system should be reformed to ensure quicker and easier access to our country legally, while finding a way to deal with those currently living here that does not involve rounding up 12 million people on the taxpayer’s dime. They believe morality is a personal thing, and that legislating one moral view to everyone is no different than legislating what foods we can eat, and what cars and light bulbs we must buy. After all, big government is big government. These views do not make Republicans “RINOs.”

However, as we saw in 2009 with Dede Scozzafava in New York’s 23rd Congressional District, sometimes “RINOs” are really traitors. Dede Scozzafava, who supported many of President Obama’s policies including Obamacare and his failed stimulus package, was nothing more than a pro-gun Democrat. On November 1st, the left-leaning firm Public Policy Polling released a poll showing Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman up 51% to 34% over Democrat Bill Owens. That same day, Scozzafava, a Republican, announced her support for the Democrat. Two days later, Owens won.

In order to keep government small, keep it out of our lives and keep it out of our wallet, we must elect Republicans. That has never been clearer than now, after 18 months of liberal legislation designed to increase the size of government, take over entire industries and inhibit personal freedom while removing incentives to succeed. The GOP must understand that moderate Republicans are necessary when trying to win elections in the so-called “purple states,” on our way to achieving a majority in Congress. In places like Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and even New York and California, Republicans simply won’t win if only hard-right candidates are accepted by the party.

We live in a center-right country, and many former Republicans left the party to become Independents, Non-Partisans and Libertarians because the GOP is slow to accept slightly different views. As Republicans, we should be focused on finding candidates who can win in their districts, and not on which candidates appeal to some imaginary national conservative litmus test. We should be happy to have Republicans in our party, even if we disagree on a few issues. Otherwise, we’re going to have an increasingly harder time finding majorities anywhere.

As Sarah Palin Returns, Barack Obama Hits New Lows in Polls

The early returns from Sarah Palin’s reemergence onto the public stage are in, and Barack Obama and Democrats should be very concerned. Watch the video for more:

Any plans that Obama and other of her opponents had to halt the Palin Momentum have been shattered. Like her or not — and we at Conservative New Media love her — Sarah Palin is a political and cultural force of nature who simply cannot be ignored.

– Paul F. Villarreal

As Conservatives and Republican Party Begin to Unify, Liberal Media Suddenly Become GOP “Strategists”

There is an unsurprising trend taking place among the liberal elite as 2009 Election Day nears. Here is a recent headline to help demonstrate the phenomenon:

GOP victory Tuesday won’t erase party’s problems


ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Spins Hoffman Race as a GOP ‘Civil War’

And another:

Valerie Jarrett: GOP ‘more and more extreme’

The commonality in all of these stories is that the Republican Party is imperiled, and is in danger of further “marginalizing” itself if it dares to return to its conservative roots.

Nothing could be further from the truth. And the, as Andrew Breitbart accurately deemed it, Democrat-Media Complex knows this better than anyone.

The most important concepts in analyzing this Republican Party criticism is to understand who is offering these assessments and to what end.

As noted above, one of those opining on the state of the GOP is Valerie Jarrett, Senior White House Advisor to Barack Obama. Today Joe Biden got into the act, asking for “moderate” Republicans to support liberal Bill Owens in the New York special election.

Most of the other critiques are coming from a heavily-left-of-center media and a few nominal conservatives such as David Brooks.

Why, then, would the left and its allies seek to “help” a Republican Party which they do not wish to see succeed?

Answer: They wouldn’t. And this supposed strategy advice and analysis by the left is to be ignored, except as it can be used to understand exactly what the left most fears.

The very public advice being offered to the GOP by the left is intended to help keep the Republican Party fragmented and to try to convince the American people that conservatism is “extreme” and undesirable. It is a transparent and predictable ploy.

A good and longstanding example of this kind of misdirection attempt is the exhortation by liberals for conservatives to have Sarah Palin be Barack Obama’s opponent in 2012. The refrain goes something like this: If Palin is the nominee, Obama will win in a landslide. So please pick her.

The goal of such pronouncements is to make the right believe that Palin isn’t viable, and that the left doesn’t fear her at all. This is, to any astute political observer, total nonsense. The left fears nobody more than Sarah Palin, but one has to be able to interpret how that fear is manifested. Among the Alinskyites and their media enablers, the fear is often currently expressed as mocking, condescension and dismissal.

What the left most fears at this time is the coming together of a strong, unified and no-nonsense (read: non-elitist or -apologizing-for-itself) conservative opposition to Barack Obama. That movement is well underway, as this summer’s Tea Party protests showed. However, we may be on the doorstep of the first major electoral victories based at least partially upon this coalition.

In Virginia, Bob McDonnell seems a near-lock to defeat Democratic Party challenger Creigh Deeds. In upstate New York, conservative Constitution Party candidate Doug Hoffman may win a Congressional seat in a district which voted for Obama and despite his GOP adversary, Dede Scozzafava, dropping out of the race and endorsing Obama-backed liberal Bill Owens. Finally, the solidly-blue state of New Jersey may vote out Democrat Governor Jon Corzine in favor of Republican Chris Christie.

It would appear conservatives and the GOP aren’t doing so poorly, then. And this is this is the point for those left of center. The last thing they want is for an invigorated right wing to find its footing and gain momentum heading into the 2010 midterm elections.

The first of the three articles I linked to above is meant to quell any possible good feelings conservatives may have after tomorrow’s elections. It is, to use the slang, a buzzkill piece. Don’t get too excited, GOP, it says. Even if you win big.

Stephanopoulos’ report is intended to play up the Republican Party infighting in the New York special election so as to take the emphasis off of the incredibly strong and unified support behind Doug Hoffman. The tactic here is to accentuate the negative.

Finally, Jarrett’s gambit is to try to dissuade people from voting for GOP candidates tomorrow lest they be part of that “extreme” fringe no one wants to be identified with. Why be a radical, she implies, when you could be such a good and decent — and accepted — person and vote Democrat.

As the reconstituted conservative moment continues to strengthen and build, you will see many more such “free advice” articles and TV spots from the right wing’s opponents. When you see them, just smile to yourself and listen to see what the left is most exercised about in their talking and writing. This will let you know what it is that Obama’s allies fear most.

For a genuine conservative and Republican Party resurgence, the right must get back to its roots. Rush Limbaugh, from his appearance on this past Sunday’s FOX News Sunday puts the matter succinctly (go to the 2:50 mark of the video):


It is the Reagan Coalition, not the blue blood/country club set who will lead the right wing back to prominence. The “Democrat Lite” strategy is a failing one and only plays into the hands of the right’s opponents. Those, that is, who are now so freely providing their unsolicited advice.

Paul F. Villarreal