Of RINOs, Moderate Democrats, and Men

All RINOs are not the same, even when they profess almost identical beliefs. All politicians try to appeal to their constituents, but not all politicians -- not by a long shot -- have the same type of constituents. RINOs who try to win elections by endorsing policies as conservative as the voters will allow are not the problem with the Republican Party. In the last two election cycles, Democrats have shrewdly grasped the art of the possible in winning congressional elections. Blue Dog Democrats are congressmen who, if Republicans once held their districts, have ardently voted against the House leadership's health care bill. Yet enough Blue Dogs voted with the House leadership to pass Pelosi's bill when it came to a floor vote.

A good example of a RINO who is not the enemy of conservatives is Rudy Giuliani. The former mayor of New York was wrong on many more issues than John McCain. Rudy was totally unacceptable as a Republican presidential candidate. But by a wide margin, Giuliani was as conservative as anyone who reasonably could have won as mayor of New York.  His policies as Mayor were not conservative, by and large, but they were much better than those of any other New York mayor in recent memory. It is easy for many conservatives to like Rudy because he was as good a mayor as conservatives could ever have expected him to be, and because he always appeared genuinely honest about his disagreements.

Compare him to John McCain. The senator came from a conservative, historically Republican state. He could have been the principal champion of conservative causes without costing him any support back home at all. While Giuliani governed as far to the right as any mayor of New York could have, McCain spoke and voted as far to the left as any Republican senator from Arizona could have.

The late Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island was also a perfect example of a RINO who was not really a RINO. A paragon of honesty and candor, Senator John Chafee voted as far to the right as the voters of Rhode Island would ever have supported. In fact, Rhode Islanders voted again and again for John Chafee in spite of his relative conservatism because he was such a palpably good and decent man. 

Former Senator Larry Craig of Idaho had a much more conservative voting record than Chafee, but he was much less a true conservative than Chafee. Craig came from a state in which conservative Republicans almost automatically win, but his lust for office was such that after his sex scandal, he went back on a pledge to resign and stayed on a few pointless extra months instead of letting the Governor of Idaho replace him with an untarnished conservative Republican.

Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina is another such nominal conservative who behaves much more like a cynical leftist. What good can Sanford possibly do for his political party, his ideological movement, or the causes he professes to believe in? If Sanford had honorably resigned, expressed contrition, and gone on with his life after his notorious extramarital affair and deception, we could respect him as a conservative Republican. Instead, Sanford reflects exactly the sort of private ambition that caused Republicans such grief in 2006.

What is true of Republicans and RINOs is also true of so-called "conservative" Democrats.  Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson is often cited as an example of a "conservative" Democrat. Is he? His American Conservative Union voting record as the senator from very conservative Nebraska is a lame 47%. All three of the Republican congressmen from Nebraska have an ACU voting record of at least 87%, and even the RINO Senator Chuck Hagel had an ACU voting record of 83%. Nelson, a Democrat in very conservative Nebraska, had a voting record roughly the same as RINO Arlen Specter had in relatively leftist Pennsylvania.  

What conservatives need to do is start matching up the intensity of elected officials' ideological conservatism with that of the voters in a particular state or district. Stop worrying about Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, who come from relatively leftist Maine, and start worrying about RINOs in conservative states and so-called "conservative" Democrats -- there are twenty-three of them in the Senate -- who come from states that Bush and McCain both carried in the last three elections (thirteen senators from North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas, Louisiana, West Virginia, Missouri, Montana, and Alaska.) 

Conservatives should look very closely at "moderate" Democrats from states that Bush carried in 2000 and in 2004 (ten senators from Virginia, North Carolina, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Indiana, and Florida.) Conservatives should wonder why the thirteen "moderate" Democrats came from states that Bob Dole carried in 1996, Bush carried in 2000, and Bush carried again in 2004. 

Conservatives can win if they begin to do what Democrats decided to do a couple of election cycles ago: ignore the Democrat equivalent of "RINOs" -- senators like Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu -- and instead begin to get candidates elected who are as far left as a particular state or district will tolerate. The resulting Congress is far left of America.

Republicans should follow the same strategy. They should kick out RINOs in conservative state, like Arizona, and pat the heads of RINOs from states in which no clear conservative will win, like Maine. But the real political obstacle to conservatism is all of those "moderate" Democrats with voting records far to the left of any RINO, who come from states and districts that even awful Republican candidates like McCain and Dole were able to carry. When members of Congress, regardless of party label, begin to reflect the true ideology of their constituents, conservative principles will prevail.   

Bruce Walker is the author of two books: Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie and The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.
All RINOs are not the same, even when they profess almost identical beliefs. All politicians try to appeal to their constituents, but not all politicians -- not by a long shot -- have the same type of constituents. RINOs who try to win elections by endorsing policies as conservative as the voters will allow are not the problem with the Republican Party. In the last two election cycles, Democrats have shrewdly grasped the art of the possible in winning congressional elections. Blue Dog Democrats are congressmen who, if Republicans once held their districts, have ardently voted against the House leadership's health care bill. Yet enough Blue Dogs voted with the House leadership to pass Pelosi's bill when it came to a floor vote.

A good example of a RINO who is not the enemy of conservatives is Rudy Giuliani. The former mayor of New York was wrong on many more issues than John McCain. Rudy was totally unacceptable as a Republican presidential candidate. But by a wide margin, Giuliani was as conservative as anyone who reasonably could have won as mayor of New York.  His policies as Mayor were not conservative, by and large, but they were much better than those of any other New York mayor in recent memory. It is easy for many conservatives to like Rudy because he was as good a mayor as conservatives could ever have expected him to be, and because he always appeared genuinely honest about his disagreements.

Compare him to John McCain. The senator came from a conservative, historically Republican state. He could have been the principal champion of conservative causes without costing him any support back home at all. While Giuliani governed as far to the right as any mayor of New York could have, McCain spoke and voted as far to the left as any Republican senator from Arizona could have.

The late Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island was also a perfect example of a RINO who was not really a RINO. A paragon of honesty and candor, Senator John Chafee voted as far to the right as the voters of Rhode Island would ever have supported. In fact, Rhode Islanders voted again and again for John Chafee in spite of his relative conservatism because he was such a palpably good and decent man. 

Former Senator Larry Craig of Idaho had a much more conservative voting record than Chafee, but he was much less a true conservative than Chafee. Craig came from a state in which conservative Republicans almost automatically win, but his lust for office was such that after his sex scandal, he went back on a pledge to resign and stayed on a few pointless extra months instead of letting the Governor of Idaho replace him with an untarnished conservative Republican.

Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina is another such nominal conservative who behaves much more like a cynical leftist. What good can Sanford possibly do for his political party, his ideological movement, or the causes he professes to believe in? If Sanford had honorably resigned, expressed contrition, and gone on with his life after his notorious extramarital affair and deception, we could respect him as a conservative Republican. Instead, Sanford reflects exactly the sort of private ambition that caused Republicans such grief in 2006.

What is true of Republicans and RINOs is also true of so-called "conservative" Democrats.  Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson is often cited as an example of a "conservative" Democrat. Is he? His American Conservative Union voting record as the senator from very conservative Nebraska is a lame 47%. All three of the Republican congressmen from Nebraska have an ACU voting record of at least 87%, and even the RINO Senator Chuck Hagel had an ACU voting record of 83%. Nelson, a Democrat in very conservative Nebraska, had a voting record roughly the same as RINO Arlen Specter had in relatively leftist Pennsylvania.  

What conservatives need to do is start matching up the intensity of elected officials' ideological conservatism with that of the voters in a particular state or district. Stop worrying about Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, who come from relatively leftist Maine, and start worrying about RINOs in conservative states and so-called "conservative" Democrats -- there are twenty-three of them in the Senate -- who come from states that Bush and McCain both carried in the last three elections (thirteen senators from North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas, Louisiana, West Virginia, Missouri, Montana, and Alaska.) 

Conservatives should look very closely at "moderate" Democrats from states that Bush carried in 2000 and in 2004 (ten senators from Virginia, North Carolina, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Indiana, and Florida.) Conservatives should wonder why the thirteen "moderate" Democrats came from states that Bob Dole carried in 1996, Bush carried in 2000, and Bush carried again in 2004. 

Conservatives can win if they begin to do what Democrats decided to do a couple of election cycles ago: ignore the Democrat equivalent of "RINOs" -- senators like Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu -- and instead begin to get candidates elected who are as far left as a particular state or district will tolerate. The resulting Congress is far left of America.

Republicans should follow the same strategy. They should kick out RINOs in conservative state, like Arizona, and pat the heads of RINOs from states in which no clear conservative will win, like Maine. But the real political obstacle to conservatism is all of those "moderate" Democrats with voting records far to the left of any RINO, who come from states and districts that even awful Republican candidates like McCain and Dole were able to carry. When members of Congress, regardless of party label, begin to reflect the true ideology of their constituents, conservative principles will prevail.   

Bruce Walker is the author of two books: Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie and The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.

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