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.
I was a Republican long before I was a conservative. Heck, I was a Republican well before I could even vote. When I was a young child, I was asked some questions about the president that went like this:
Q: Where does the president live?
Me: In the White House.
Q: And what is the president’s job?
Me: To keep the Democrats out of the building.
As a little kid, I didn’t really understand all the policy implications of tax cuts, deregulation, or building up the military, but I knew Democrats shouldn’t be in power.
Much latter in life I started thinking about why that is; why is it better for Republicans to run the government, not Democrats. That’s when I truly became a conservative.