Are Conservatives the RINOs?Politics

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.

  • Max Shapiro

    Let’s face it. Democracy is a cruel joke when most of your population cannot read, write, or do math at their age/grade level. The real question is whether or not it is the conservatives’ fault for not communicating their message better and whether or not we can blame the other end of the spectrum for taking advantage of an ignorant electorate.

  • John Buford

    Instead of making the Republican Nation Convntion a big political party extravaganza, they should have actually had a convention. John McCain was a terrible choice, in my opinion the worst possible choice after Rudy. GOP lost me this election, and what they have done since by promoting Jindall and Steele as affirmative action hires.

    The Republicans have consistently betrayed their base, and need to go the way of the Whigs before them. Its time for white people to have their own political party dedicated towards looking out for the interests of ethnic European Americans. Least the suicide of our nation and all of Western Civilization will be complete and after its gone, thats it, back to the dark ages for all of humanity.

  • Brian Kirwin

    Racism was not exactly what I had in mind.

  • JR Hoeft

    Mr. Buford,
    I almost deleted your comment, but, instead, I feel you epitomize one of the dominant factors of why classical economic liberals (read – financial conservatives) are misconstrued by the electorate.

    Please, by all means, find another party….and go back to your own dark ages.

  • Freddie

    The original John Buford’s actions were very critical in the opening of the Battle of Gettysburg, and so John Buford was a significant reason for the Union victory in the War of Northern Aggression.

  • Freddie

    I think that the Republican nominees are often moderate is because most of the candidates are more or less conservative. They split the conservative vote, and so the one prominent moderate in the field wins.

  • Brian Kirwin

    Freddie, Buchanan split the conservative vote in 92? With whom?

    In 1996, Dole and Lamar “more money for education” Alexander outpolled Buchanan, Forbes and Keyes.

    In 2000, Forbes lost but did well in Iowa. After that, Bush/McCain commanded 80-95% of the vote.

    2008, tell me the conservative candidates who spit votes. Mr. Pro-choice or Mr. Tax Increase?

    It’s deeper than conservatives being so plentiful that they crowd each other out.

  • Freddie

    In 2008, Huckabee, Romney, and Thompson were all more or less conservative. You will rarely get anyone who you 100% agree with.

  • Aaron

    We also forget that Reagan was NOT fiscally conservative when he took over office….

  • Ignatius

    Pat Buchanan is a populist, not a conservative. The politician he most closely resembles is Jim Webb right down to the barely disguised, ugly, anti-semetic streak.

    Bush Pere’s victory over Buchanan was a victory of the establishment over the seething rage of populism (exemplified on this page by John Buford). It was not a victory of moderation over conservatism, as Buchanan’s economic message is Jim Webb-style, quasi-Marxist gobbledygook.

  • Brian Kirwin

    Freddie, I know you won’t agree 100%, but taxes and abortion seem to be pretty big things to approve of and still be called “conservative”

  • Steven Osborne

    I know that I might get lamblasted by many of my fellow limited govt. Republicans, but I believe that we were too strict concerning Mike Huckabee. Sure he allowed taxes to go up, however, he also cut taxes later in his admin. If he had gotten all of the tax cuts that he wanted from the 75% Democratic legislature, then he would have paid the tax increases back and then some.

    Also, if he had gotten all of the spending cuts that he had wanted, taxes probably would not have gone up in the first place.

    After Iowa, Huckabee could have won the nomination in SC, however, conservatives tore the snot out of each other and allowed McCain to take SC, which put him on the fast track to the nomination.

  • Britt Howard

    To be “fair”, Huckabee, that raised taxes, also was publicly in favor of the “Fair Tax”. His record of raising taxes vs. strong favoring of Fair Tax was a bit confusing. Neal Boortz was of course pushing Huckabee who did have some golden moments.

    Then you have Ron Paul who was fantastic on taxes yet, anti- Fair Tax since Fair Tax is tax reform and not spending/big government reform. Paul also, as Brian alluded to, caused problems with his foreign policy. Even people like myself, that feel that post-shock and awe Iraq was grossly mishandled, had a difficult time embracing R.Paul’s never a pre-emptive intervention mind set. Even if you disagree with the war in Iraq completely, it is hard to take intervention of the table completely. Even if you are leary of foreign entanglements, you might wonder if RP was too non-interventionist. What if it looked like a nuclear war with Iran and Israel was possible and much of the world oil supply would be cut off? Our financial market is increasingly dependent on foreign assets and trading partners. If they are hurt……we are hurt. I’m just not sure that Ron Paul as fantastic as he is, gets the global stabilty factor that goes along with free market/free trade diversification. Stabilty drives markets, unstable countries in the heart of the world’s energy centers can crash markets and ways of life.

    There was Thompson who seemed like a conservative choice but, never really took off despite Rush’s approval. Yea, *cough* Rush runs the party. Tell me another one. At least the morons that came up with the strategy of making Rush into a focal scape goat realize that idea was doomed from the start. Finally they get a clue. I liked Thompson but, never saw enough momentum.

    For 2008 only, I can understand a vote splitting arguement. There was a bit of confusion:

    I imagine many conservatives were ready to forgive Giuliani for his moderate ways due to his handling of 9/11. His campaign strategy was horrible though, and made his other imperfections more memorable.

    Huckabee repelled and attracted fiscal conservatives due to his taxation record (bad) and Fair Tax support(not a panacea but good). He also scored with social conservatives.

    Romney had full support of Bush. Bush backer energy was spent on a candidate that many found unappealing. Romney in some ways looked like a poor choice to both fiscal conservatives and social conservatives but, if Bush supports him……where do you go?

    I found certain things to really like about Fred Thompson, Ron Paul, and Mike Huckabee. McCain never made it up the chart for me. There probably was indecison on the conservative side. Then also, you have a moderate split between McCain and Romney. With Romney out of the way, McCain will get a lot of that backing.

    The whole thing was frustrating at many points. I think Republicans are willing accept a good candidate if a perfect one is unforseeable. But how much do you sacrifice?

    Interesting spin on the RINO thing, Brian. Thought provoking.

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  • novamiddleman

    Ask youselves if the conservative was put up would the margin have been closer of farther apart.

  • Brian Kirwin

    Britt, thank you. That’s the nicest compliment I could hope for.

  • huck

    errr… McCain was the “foreign-policy ninny”. Pre-emptive attacks and policing the world will not bring peace or make the world any safer – but it will make some weapons manufacturers richer and put us further into debt.