I don’t know how it started, but for as long as I can remember RINOs (Republicans In Name Only – pronounced like “rhino”) has been used to describe moderate/liberal members of the GOP. It was an insult leveled primarily by hardcore conservatives against Republicans who would shirk from their professed beliefs when it came time to cast an unpopular vote. Unlike rhinos, RINOs are in no danger of going extinct.
In fact, today there is a new breed of RINOs rampaging their way through the Republican Party. If moderates were RINOs for not closely adhering to conservative principles, what else should we call Republicans who openly declare that those principles no longer matter, that the only important issue is the candidate’s party ID? Republicans who vote for a candidate purely to beat the Democrats embody the truest meaning of Republican In Name Only. They have surrendered their values to party politics.
To be clear, there is nothing wrong with wanting to beat the Democrats. I do too. But I want to beat them because they advocate principles I deeply oppose. Saying I want to defeat Democrats is a shorthand for saying I want to defeat people who support big government over individual liberty, actively work to weaken American national defense, and promote abortion on demand.
But what happens when the person promoting values I oppose checked the box marked Republican? What happens when the Republican candidate is a bigot who opposes the First Amendment’s freedom of religion, believes himself above the law and above the US Constitution, or is credibly accused of molesting children? It’s simple. I support the values I believe in and oppose those I am against. A RINO would say it is only important to vote for the Republican.
Obviously that is a reference to Roy Moore, who just lost a Senate seat that no Democrat has come close to winning in the last quarter century. But he is not the only RINO in this particular example. When the revelations of Moore’s predatory behavior towards children were revealed, there was an opportunity to force him out of the race and elect a conservative Republican. Instead, RINOs like Steve Bannon, Sean Hannity, and Donald Trump rallied around Moore because they considered electing a Republican more important than condemning a pedophile. These RINOs were so concerned about losing to a Democrat that they ensured that very outcome.
If you are looking for who to blame for a Republican loss in deep red Alabama, don’t point to Mitch McConnell, Jeff Flake, or National Review. They tried to prevent this stunning result while standing up for conservative principles. Instead, blame the RINOs who sold their souls for a Republican win, and by doing so handed the election to Democrats.