Monday, January 21, 2008

What's Wrong With Being a RINO?

The current primary season has changed my views on politics significantly. By now I may have removed the links, but for the longest time I was a huge FredHead. When he couldn't do better than a distant third in South Carolina, I finally decided to give up on that Quixotic quest.

So did our Official Artist, who has posted a pretty funny fast-food analysis of the candidates.

Hugh Hewitt, who became the completely deranged lap dog of Mitt Romney, started the whole process. I used to love his radio show and linked to his blog frequently. As he went on a campaign of spreading filth about all of Romney's rivals, both on his vicious blog and his utterly sycophantic radio program, I started examining the sources of my convictions. In the comment threads on Hugh's blog I noticed a continuing theme about this candidate or that being a Republican In Name Only (RINO). There were all kinds of litmus tests thrown out there, including pro-life, tax cuts and so forth. Each one was held up as a kind of religious orthodoxy and if you had any traces of sin upon your legislative hands, you were considered an apostate.

The tax cutting thing started to get to me. Here's why.

The national debt corrected for inflation.

The national debt soared under Reagan and both Bush presidencies. It dropped during Newt's time in the congress. Reagan and W both cut taxes, but did not cut spending. The result was a financial catastrophe. I'm far more forgiving of Reagan since he had a hostile congress that was carried over from the spend-like-crazy 1970s. The current Bush has no such excuses. Nor does the Republican party.

So just what does it mean to be a Republican these days? It certainly doesn't mean that you're fiscally responsible, does it? Frankly, the wild increases in the debt during total Republican control of the budget makes me want to re-register as an independent.

For those of you who are still Republican stalwarts, just what does that (R) mean? Reality suggests that an (R) means the same as a (D). A profligate, pandering vote-buyer. That's the truth. You can't point to real data and argue otherwise. Since that's the case, what's wrong with being a RINO? I want a RINO. There's no way I want some tax-cutter who refuses to cut spending in any meaningful way. We did that. The evidence of fiscal mismanagement is pretty clear.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to end up supporting McCain. I know everyone runs about pointing to his immigration votes, McCain-Feingold and so forth, but I'm beginning to look at those with a different set of eyes as well. I spent a lot of time listening to the Republican High Priests of Theology, Rush and Hugh and so forth, who I now see were either completely ignorant of financial matters, or were simply lying to support the party. They colored my view of these issues and it's time to re-examine what I support and why.

Until I change my party affiliation, I think you can safely call me a RINO as well. So what?


Rose said...

The thing is, the party has to broaden its reach, and get away from the strict dogma while still standing on some core principles.

I guess the debate is over what those core principles are.

Ia it being the party of the religious far right? Is it immigration? Is it less taxes, and less government? The opposite of Nanny-state?

I would love to see a series of ads for the Republican Party showing the individual people, different ages, different occupations and backgrounds, dog people, cat people, sports people, crafts people - you get the drift, but each giving the reason they chose the Republican Party.

They'll all be different, and they are all good.

I registered Republican because I don't believe anyone should have to pay 50% of their income to the government.

I've always liked McCain. I like Thompson, too, and don't see why he didn't catch on.

Anyway - not to ramble on - but if you are looked down on as a RINO, the party is in big trouble. That term should not exist.

K T Cat said...

Rose, as usual your comment is great. I love the idea for the ad series.

Rose said...

We're all wrestling with the same thing. But the president, once elected, is not supposed to be "the Republican President" - he becomes the President for all the people. He's going to have to be able to compromise, but hold to the values that really transcend all party lines.

Don't know yet who I'll vote for. My absentee ballot is still sitting here.

Is voting for Thompson just a throw-away or a statement?

Justin said...

Eh, what the hell. Toss me in as a RINO too.

Oh, wait, I'm considered an independent right now since I skipped the 2006 primaries. In Texas, you declare your party affiliation when you show up at the polls and they stamp your card Republican or Democrat. Since you get a new card every other year, you can declare as something different each primary cycle.

The Huck says Texas is pivotal, but I think he's probably full of it.

K T Cat said...

Rose, I was all set to vote for Fred in a losing cause in California until he only got 16% or so in South Carolina. I could vote for Duncan Hunter, too and make the same statement as I would with Fred.

To me, those are wasted votes now. It hurts to say that.

K T Cat said...

Justin, I think that South Carolina was pivotal for Huck.

He lost.

Rose said...

Is the term RINO actually the independent arm of the party? Kinda looks that way.

I guess in general, I would take any of the Republicans (except Ron Paul) over any of the Democratic candidates. Hillary's too power mad and dishonest, won't take any tough questions or stray from her talking points, and Obama's just too green, mouthing platitudes that sound and look good but no substance... I'd take him over Hillary, though - his core is good and hers is nowhere to be seen.

I see your point, KT. And Thompson would make a great VP.

Anonymous said...

You pretty much summed up my entire disillusionment with the Republican party, and why I can't bring myself to throw in with the Democrats either. For a brief period, when the Republicans thought that they needed the votes of the small-l libertarians, they actually had some pretense of fiscal responsibility, and I could support them. Not anymore, though.

Dean said...

Aren't these "Big Tent" discussion fun?
Sincerely, (Still a) Reagan Conservative in Goldwater trim

Ohioan@Heart said...

KT - wear that RINO label with pride.

Anyone, who fits every test, of either "party", is not thinking independently.

I've been a RINO for years. So far so that in the last presidential election I voted for Kerry. Ick, it still feels wrong. But I had realized that W was never going to institute REAL fiscal conservatism (you know, spend as much or less than you take in). Given that, the fastest route to it was to get him out. Didn't work. Now we see the consequences building.

OK, diversion aside, I think that McCain is our only realistic hope for anything like fiscal sanity among the current "leading" candidates.

K T Cat said...

This is a topic for a future post, but did y'all see McCain's response to the various candidates' and Bush's stimulus plans? He thought they were all pretty dumb wastes of money.

I love it.

B-Daddy said...

All you recent converts to McCainism got some explaining to do. The logical next step after McCain-Feingold is for KT to have to register with the FEC and document the time he has spent blogging as a political contribution. Think that would chill free speech?

K T Cat said...


I'll let you know when that happens.

Rose said...

What is it about Huckabee that you don't like, KT?

Anonymous said...

Interesting graph there, KT. I think with the Reagan/Bush1/Newt/Bush2 angle you're comparing apples with oranges here though. I remember watching Sesame Street as a young 'un and there was this song they sang. "One of these things is not like the others..."

Another, more clearly presented way to describe the same information would be to say that apart from the big spend up when America entered WW2, and the 2 oil shocks in the 70s, the deficit was pretty stable. After the first two years of Reagan's 8 year administration it began an inexorable climb which has been maintained to this day except when it stabilized during the Clinton (I'm sure that's the name you were looking for) Administration, following which Bush2 followed Reagan's 2/8 pattern.

You will of course remember I'm not a big fan of the US being ruled by someone called either Bush or Clinton for 20-28 years straight, but credit where it's due. I haven't heard any leading contenders from the Republican Party (RINO or not) utter the phrase "It's the economy, Stupid".

Sorry I haven't been round to keep you on your toes more lately, but I've been away in the wilderness of a South Pacific island for a few weeks and only have dial-up at the nearest connection. I hope the new year is treating you well.


K T Cat said...

Rose, I just don't get the feeling that Huckabee ever really knows what he's talking about.

Aon, the congress makes the budgets. Attributing deficits or surpluses to a president is incorrect. I have intimate, professional knowledge of the budget process. I assure you, Clinton had nothing to do with it.

Reagan can be let off the hook because he made deals with the Democrat congress that they backed out on.

W has absolutely no excuse at all. While the others are interesting historical examples, it's the present situation that defines the parties. Right now, neither side has anything good to point to at all.

Rose said...

Well, Fred has bowed out today. Which erases one dilemma. Pretty sure I'll go with McCain - but the tax issue could be a deal breaker.

One thing is, I am glad I hadn't already sent in my ballot.