Maybe it’s time for a RINO party: Republicans in Name Only
Maybe there should be a RINO Party. You know—Republicans in Name Only. A number of Republican individuals are taunted by hard core fellow Republicans for not living up to the perceived standards that make one a Republican nowadays. Nuanced or mixed beliefs are not allowed. If you have a different position on a controversial issue or are willing to talk compromise, you are labeled a RINO — you don’t belong in the party.
One cannot, for instance, support a program of a strong international defense presence, some gun regulation or pro-choice on abortion for a limited amount of time during pregnancy. Those positions will get you labeled a RINO. Even if you believe in lower taxes, limited government and other conservative positions. According to a U.S. Senate candidate from Missouri, the RINO label qualifies you to be hunted by “true” Republicans, ones who have checked all the boxes appropriately, according to whoever it is in charge of box-checking in today’s Republican Party.
When I worked with former Los Angeles mayor, Republican Richard Riordan, in his unsuccessful run for California governor in 2002, it was not uncommon to hear him called a RINO at a few GOP events.
This phenomenon is not new to our polarized political times, although the subject may have become more intense lately. When I worked with former Los Angeles mayor, Republican Richard Riordan, in his unsuccessful run for California governor in 2002, it was not uncommon to hear him called a RINO at a few GOP events.
Since Republicans who don’t agree with all the stands of those who declare who is a Republican and who is not, they might as well leave the party. Isn’t that the goal of those who use the term RINO?
If it is the goal, the result would be a weakened GOP.
Where do these so-called RINOs go if they exit the party? Most Republicans who have some traditional Republican leanings are uncomfortable with the Democrats, to say the least, especially as that party becomes more progressive.
It’s possible members of such a third party could form a platform comfortable enough for a majority of members to rally around an agenda
The first thought is that someone who is disinvited from the Republican Party but has no desire to join the Democratic Party should become an independent voter. But what good is that politically? There is no structured independent party or no-party-preference voters as they are labeled in California. They have no political power.
The suggestion is floated that a third political party be formed. One that allows voters to take their nuanced positions on different issues and feel at home debating them and creating a platform within a party structure.
It’s possible members of such a third party could form a platform comfortable enough for a majority of members to rally around an agenda. There is also the danger that such an arrangement could end up little more than a debating club.
A formal, organized so-called RINO based Party could get their candidates in a three-way election battles. (Such a scheme would not work well in California political races with its top two primary system
Political success is unlikely.
Then again, that depends how one measures political success.
A Party of RINOs may not have the power to move an agenda, but if enough Republicans quit the GOP to join a structured RINO Party that could damage the GOP in elections. It would open the door to Democrats in contested elections. A formal, organized so-called RINO based Party could get their candidates in a three-way election battles. (Such a scheme would not work well in California political races with its top two primary system, however the top-two primary system does not affect the presidential contest.)
It’s happened before. Many Republicans chose to follow former President Theodore Roosevelt to the Bull Moose Party in 1912 after delegates in the Republican Party chose to oppose Roosevelt’s politics and stick with conservative William Howard Taft.
The split Republican vote opened the door for Democrat Woodrow Wilson to take the presidency.
A similar scenario would play out in many elections if a RINO Party were created. Republicans in a RINO party would not be happy with helping to elect a Democrat but that’s not the point. RINOs in a new party would teach their erstwhile colleagues a lesson: the most votes wins elections and you can’t win by chasing away voters. It would remind Republicans that the Big Tent party advocated by Ronald Reagan has a chance to govern. A smaller party does not.
It’s appropriate to remind those who use the term RINO that Reagan said that my 80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy.
Splitting voters away from the Republican Party—hunting RINOs– would cripple the party. If that happens perhaps all Republicans will begin to try and work together again.
Editor’s Note: Joel Fox, who co-published and served as editor-in-chief of Fox and Hounds Daily, is the former president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and is on the adjunct faculty at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy.
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