RINO – Republicans in Name Only
As tedious as the litmus test can get, it’s been going on for quite a few years. Conservatives continually point to Ronald Reagan’s landslide election and unheard-of almost unanimous re-election as proof that conservatism reigns supreme.
Not that conservatism ever gets a chance. Why can’t conservatives win a Republican Presidential primary?
And if the arch-conservatives consistently lose Republican nominations, who are the RINOS and who aren’t? If conservatives can’t win a majority of the Republican Party, how can they claim to decide who is a RINO and who isn’t? Doesn’t a claim of a “true Republican” require that you win the Party’s nomination?
And why have conservatives lost every Presidential nomination since Reagan?
The funny thing is the “conventional wisdom” is that moderates do well in general elections, but conservatives do better in primaries. The actual history is pretty much the reverse.
1988 was won by George “No New Taxes” Bush, who wasn’t promising to cut taxes, but simply to not raise them, and didn’t even keep that promise. Bob Dole, the “tax collector for the Welfare State”, came close, but conservatives in the race were a non-factor. Pat Robertson won one caucus, while Al Haig and Jack Kemp went nowhere.
1992 was Bush’s re-nomination, defeating conservative Pat Buchanan in every primary.
1996 was a nod to Bob Dole, who defeated a long list of conservatives including Alan Keyes, Steve Forbes, Pat Buchanan, Bob Dornan and Phil Gramm to lead the ticket to defeat.
2000 saw conservatives like Forbes, Gary Bauer, Keyes, Dan Quayle, and John Kasich get drowned in the battle between George W. Bush and John McCain. Bush was a “compassionate conservative” (read: moderate) and McCain was the same. Together, they won every primary. Conservatives won none, and in 2004, Bush was unopposed and, like his father, was gifted with a Massachusetts opponent who guaranteed that Bush would look the more conservative.
2008 Republicans nominated moderate John McCain. Huckabee raised taxes, Romney had been pro-choice, Rudolph Giuliani still is pro-choice, and Ron Paul was a foreign-policy ninny. Fred Thompson was a video-only candidate, and noted conservatives Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter were relegated to opening remarks at debates.
If moderates are RINOs, they sure beat conservatives in Republican primaries with surprisingly consistent ease.
While conservative wing of the GOP is hoping and planning for a resurgence, and there’s every possibility that Obama will offer that chance gift-wrapped, even the Clinton years couldn’t launch a conservative who could win the Republican nomination for President.
Conservatives need to find one who can, or significantly change the process so that one has the chance.
Or else, whether conservatives can win a general election won’t ever matter.