Hunting RINO Hunters

(Warning: No RINOs were harmed in the writing of this piece. Mark Ciavola does not endorse actual hunting of RINOs, or any violence to any one for any reason whatsoever, unless deemed appropriate by a court of law and a jury of his peers. In no way does he mean to offend the effete sensibilities of CNN, MSNBC, or liberals who had no problem with similar wordplay until one of their own was shot. All Rights Reserved. Charges may apply. Do not eat.)

For the last few years the term “RINO,” Republican In Name Only, has been tossed around like “party favors” at Lindsay Lohan’s house. It has been used within the conservative movement to separate the men from the boys, in what is nothing short of a macho pissing contest on who can be more or most conservative. Last summer I opined on the term itself, attempting to make the point that these moderates are needed for the GOP to win seats in liberal states like Maine, Massachusetts and Delaware. I also pointed out that there is a big difference between a “RINO” and a traitor. However, as political rhetoric becomes more and more intense, reason is often left by the wayside.

Whether we like it or not we have a two-party political system here in America. Today, Independents, Libertarians, Green Party candidates, and other third-party options simply cannot win elections – especially at the federal level. Even with many Americans becoming increasingly disenchanted with both major parties, these third-parties pull an insignificant portion of the total vote. They do, however, succeed in playing spoiler on many levels, often costing Republicans elections. The reason for this is that many Independents are right-leaning, as are Libertarians. Only the Green Party and Socialist Party, in less than a dozen states, produce candidates that take votes away from Democrats. Perhaps the most interesting part of these right-leaning third-parties is that many of their followers are former Republicans.

The 2008 Republican Party Platform listed nine items: National Security, Government Reform, Economy, Energy, Environment, Health Care, Education, Crime, and Values. Clicking on the first plank, National Security, you will be treated to a 6,336-word novel that includes opinions on everything from homeland security and veterans to immigration and policies for the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East. Only the most ardent political junkie would ever make it through reading the entire plank only to be smacked with a 3,512 treatise on Government Reform, which for some reason includes the preservation of the District of Columbia. In total, anyone wishing to know where the GOP stood in 2008 “on the issues” would be subjected to an information overload of more than 35,000 words – seventeen times the length of this post.

If a “RINO” is someone who doesn’t adhere to the majority of core Republican values, we sure don’t make it easy to be a real Republican! There are 75 planks-within-planks. Even by Reagan’s standard of 80% agreement, real Republicans would disagree with the platform 15 times! It is worth mentioning that currently features a six-plank platform including National Defense, Health Care, Energy, Education, Economy, and Courts, with a one-paragraph blurb explaining the conservative side of the argument on each issue. It is broad, and most-likely intentionally vague, so as to adequately satisfy the entire Republican Party. Remember, the GOP has an obligation to represent ALL Republicans – both fiscally conservative and socially conservative. It is not the “Social Conservative Party” or the “Fiscal Conservative Party”… it is the REPUBLICAN PARTY.

As I have stated in previous articles, and countless times publicly, I do not believe in the mythical creature “RINO.” And while I am still one of the most conservative people I know, nowhere on my voter registration form was I asked if I was a conservative. Anyone who checks the box marked “Republican” is a “Republican In Name Only,” since the form does not ask you to rate on a scale from 1 to 10 how conservative you are.

The term “RINO” is being applied to Republicans who voted for TARP. Twenty-one in the House of Representatives including Paul Ryan, and 34 of 40 Republicans in the Senate voted for TARP, which was designed as a loan that would repay taxpayers – unlike the bailouts that followed under President Obama. Is Paul Ryan a “RINO?” What about Senators Coburn (OK), Cornyn (TX), Kyl (AZ), and Thune (SD)? These are some of the most conservative Republicans in Washington. Pushing people out of our party because they disagree on a few issues is ludicrous, especially when we are in the middle of an ideological battle for the heart and soul of our country. Ultimately, these representatives must act in accordance with their constituents’ wishes and not the agenda of a national conservative litmus test.

Then you have this moron, who blames Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “RINO” status for Jerry Brown’s 2010 victory. Arnold didn’t keep Republicans home on Election Day, conservatives did. Meg Whitman didn’t tell Republicans to stay home and hand Jerry Brown a victory in liberal California, conservatives did. Republicans and conservatives were not rushing to vote for Jerry Brown because Arnold and Meg were “RINOs.” Jerry Brown won because there weren’t enough Republican votes, due in large part to the unwillingness of conservatives to elect a moderate Republican over a Democrat. Period.

With all of this in mind, I’d like to introduce you to a new term: CINO. Conservatives In Name Only.

What is conservatism? According to Ronald Reagan, conservatism consists of small government, fiscal responsibility, individual responsibility, and liberty for all. These basic tenets permeate every conservative discussion in our country today, especially within the Tea Party movement. But how many conservatives are really conservative? And what about the CINOs? It’s easy to say you’re conservative, but actually standing for these true conservative principles create an interesting dynamic.

To most conservatives I’ve come in contact with, small government means adhering to the U.S. Constitution in determining which issues the federal government should take control over, and which issues should be left to the states by virtue of the 10th Amendment. It also means keeping spending low, reducing our national debt, and running an efficient government that stays out of the marketplace. Conservatives preach all day long that individual schools and communities should have local control over education. They believe that the influence of powerful teachers unions and the federal education bureaucracy has severely damaged our education system. Conservatives believe government should stay out of your personal life.

CINOs, however, have no problem with big government if it is advancing their own agenda. They have no problem with a variety of federal spending, including earmarks, if it keeps them elected. CINOs believe in local control over education, unless that local control results in the removal of school prayer. CINOs don’t want the government telling us which light bulbs to buy, or which cars to drive, but they WILL try to put a federal marriage amendment in the U.S. Constitution telling us to whom we can pledge a lifelong commitment of love.

What if marriage was defined in the U.S. Constitution in 1780? Only property owners would be able to marry. In 1820, slaves would have been prohibited from marrying. In the 100 years between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Act, a federal marriage amendment would have banned interracial marriage. Today, in 2011, none of us would support any of those definitions. So why is anyone seeking to define marriage in our most revered American document? CINOs are for state’s rights, until those rights produce unpopular results. CINOs are for small government, until they see government as a way to protect their own values.

Take a look at the New York Conservative Party platform. I can say that I either support or am indifferent to almost everything on the list. As for where I disagree, I would be indifferent toward a state constitutional ban on gay marriage so long as there are civil unions or domestic partnerships in place so that gay couples can still have legal proof and protections of their relationships. I simply cannot get behind collecting DNA samples of “every criminal who commits a crime,” and I’m not sure how any conservative could. Most people would think I’m a conservative for being okay with 43 of the 45 planks in the New York Conservative Party platform, but to many others my true belief in small government would relegate me to “libertarian” status even though I do not support the legalization of drugs or an isolationist world view.

As we evolve as a nation, we seem to remain center-right. Yet, many of those in the Republican Party are seeking to implement a far-right Party philosophy. How can the GOP be “America’s Party” if we are alienating so many moderates and Independents with an irrational addiction to far-right, and often not conservative, stances? Should we not be sticking to the core tenets of conservatism, while trying to deliver our message to a wide audience in ways they can relate to?

I often talk about the problem of attracting young people to the Republican Party. They are often turned off by social conservatism. To be clear, I believe social conservatism has its place within our Party just like fiscal conservatism does. We should all be advocating for what we believe in. It should not, however, be the ENTIRETY of our Party, or firmly established in the U.S. Constitution. We should welcome pro-choice conservatives, gay conservatives, and young conservatives into our Party. We may disagree on some issues, but for the most part we can work together to elect Republicans and maintain control of Congress and state legislatures across the country. While I am pro-life, everyone 37 years old and younger was born into a country where abortion is legal. Let’s face it: Pro-life is a choice; pro-abortion is not. Let’s deliver that message!

The fact that there is a segment of the Republican Party committed to “hunting RINOs,” shows that they care more about a purist agenda that fits their own values, and not the success of the only viable alternative to the liberal agenda – the GOP. Remember, Senator Jim DeMint famously said, “I’d rather have 30 Marco Rubios than 60 Arlen Specters.” I would rather have zero Arlen Specters, because Arlen Spector is an opportunist traitor who ditched his Party in order to thwart the will of the people and keep his cushy government paycheck. However, ultimately I’d rather have 30 Marco Rubios and 30 Scott Browns than allow a Democrat super-majority to ruin our country. And if Senator Jim DeMint doesn’t see that, then he is too senile to represent anyone in Congress.

CINOs spit on Reagan’s 11th Commandment.

CINOs piss on the theory that anyone who agrees with you 80% of the time is your friend, not your enemy.

CINOs rejoice in seeing moderates like Mike Castle lose in Delaware, only to cost Republicans a winnable Senate seat with a mismatched candidate like Christine O’Donnell. (Castle had won 18 elections in Delaware, which is only 28% Republican)

CINOs express an almost divine dedication to candidates like Sharron Angle, who – as a statement of fact – lost a GOP primary race for State Senate in 2006, a GOP primary race for U.S. Congress in 2008, and now a general election for U.S. Senate in 2010. It’s remarkable to watch someone fail upward. Even a casual observer would see that if Republicans in her own State Senate district didn’t want her, and Republicans in her own U.S. Congressional District didn’t want her, that the entire state of Nevada wouldn’t want her either. Yet these “conservatives” from all over the country pushed for Sharron in her U.S. Senate primary since she won the macho pissing contest to be labeled “most conservative.” That label may win you a GOP primary (although usually not in Angle’s case), but it won’t garner you much support from Independents and conservative Democrats. And appealing to national conservatives who cannot cast votes in Nevada (or Delaware) is entirely irrelevant.

CINOs are committed to advancing their own personal agenda, even if it means the demise of the Republican Party.

CINOs constantly invoke Reagan’s name, yet refuse to follow his most successful strategy: an inclusive GOP! (They don’t call them ‘Reagan Democrats’ for nothing, folks!)

They are CINOs.

And I’m announcing CINO season OPEN.