A RINO By Any Other Name
We’ve all seen it, or heard it: RINO – Republican in Name Only. A deadly epithet used by online conservatives to mark call out their “less conservative” brethren.
The term implies that, despite party affiliation, RINO politicians are not “authentic” Republicans. The label is usually acquired because a politician’s political actions, policies, positions on certain issues or voting records are considered to be at variance with some part of the Republican party platform.
How much “variance” does it take to become a fake Republican and move firmly into RINO territory?
According to many Twitter users this past week: just one. According to some, if you are pro-choice you are a RINO, a false conservative and many other things to boot. It doesn’t matter how you voted on any other issue. It doesn’t matter how fiscally responsible you are. Nothing. Else. Matters.
I’d like to point out I’m not pro-choice, except in the cases of medical necessity (and possibly rape.) However, I’ve been told I can’t be a real conservative simply because I’m gay, so I know what it feels like to be singled out like this. It sucks.
Here’s my problem. While RINO is a clever name (it’s easy to remember and rolls off the tongue), it has become the default insult for a conservative with which someone doesn’t agree. I think X and you think Y? You’re a RINO! I went up and you went down? RINO!
It’s the right-wing race card. Seriously. So I’m going to make the exact same argument against its use as we make against the other “r” word.
There is no doubt RINOs exist. Just like there is no doubt racists exist. To imply otherwise would be silly. But playing the RINO card at first hint of political disagreement renders the term meaningless. By degrees and stages, everyone will become a RINO in someone’s eyes sooner or later. Not to mention, which part of the Republican party owns the ideology? The Libertarian-ish part? The socons? The neocons? Will the real Republicans please stand up?
Think about the implications of this. If everyone is a RINO, then there are no real Republicans. No real conservatives. Yet, aren’t we constantly claiming the majority of Americans are center right? How can both be true? Perhaps RINOs just aren’t conservative enough. Perhaps they’re not socially conservative enough.
We’re always lecturing the Left on its usage of words like “racist” and “bigot,” and rightly so. When people label someone a racist because they do something that doesn’t agree with minority politics, we’re calling BS because the reaction is an emotional one, not allowing for presentation of the facts. When people throw out “RINO” they seem to be doing much the same thing. They don’t want to address or explain the issue, just call names. How is that better?
I’m not saying we should stop using the word. I’m merely suggesting we use it sparingly. If you want to claim Laura Bush isn’t truly conservative because she has made statements in support of reproductive “rights,” then argue the issue.
Save the word RINO for special occasions. If you find it to be a truly useful term, you won’t want it watered down and applied haphazardly. You want it potent and rife with meaning.