Sunday, June 28, 2009

Saying NO to RINO's

Perhaps as much as anywhere in the country, the infamous "split" within the Republican Party has always been quite pronounced in Kansas, particularly in Johnson County. Despite years and years of trying, particualrly by conservatives, there has been little to no ground made up in terms of unifying the so-called "conservative" wing with the so-called "moderate" wing of the party.

There is a reason for this. The reason is because in most cases, the so-called "moderate" Republicans are not really Republicans -- they are what has come to be known as Republicans In Name Only -- meaning that if they were in a Democratic area they'd be Democrats, but because Kansas is a red state, they have to remain with the Republican label if they have any real hope of getting elected. The truth is, they are actually as liberal as Democrats, thus making any attempt at "unifying" with conservatives completely meaningless for the basic fact there is very little -- socially, fiscally, or otherwise -- that they can agree on.

As evidence of this, over the years, some of these "moderates" have included people who are now Democrats -- including Cindy Neighbor, Lisa Benlon, Ron Wimmer, Mark Parkinson, Paul Morrison, etc. Each of these figures was once a moderate Republican hero, touted as someone the party could rally behind as some kind of moderate voice -- when in fact, in each case, there was nothing moderate about them.

And therein lies the main part of the problem -- the term "moderate" has been abused and redefined as a word for liberals to hide behind in an attempt to conceal their real liberalism and in an effort to woo voters -- who are likely more conservative than they are on the issues but moderate in "appraoch" -- by appearing reasonable when compared to those right-wing radical Republicans who want to end all taxes and stop public education. At least, that's the standard RINO talking point.

In our eyes, the real definition of a "moderate" Republican is someone who is perhaps not as conservative on one or two issues, or perhaps not as "aggressive" in tone, but in large part, agrees with the fundamental tenants of Republicanism. For example, Bob Dole's voting record was quite conservative but many considered him to be a moderate voice. Bob Dole is a moderate Republican. Looking more nationally, someone like Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas is a moderate Republican -- as she is largely conservative but takes a slightly more liberal position on a couple issues -- but is unquestionably part of the Republican fold. Looking locally, Lynn Jenkins is a moderate Republican.

That's far different from a RINO. And it is our belief that the party not only needs to stop trying to unify with RINO's but actively oppose them. This is due to the fact one, these people are destructive legislatively. Two, the party wastes too much time trying to cater to these people. Third, the cconservative message gets watered down and looks too inconsistent when we're always trying to bend over backwards for some RINO who we're never going to agree with.

All of this is to say that the voters are looking for a new message they can rally behind -- a consistent conservative message on both fiscal and social issues. That won't ever come when one is worrying about pleasing the Arlen Specters of the world.

Case in point -- the 8 Republicans who on Friday voted in favor of the cap-and-tax bill are RINO's. No ifs, ands or buts about it. There is absolutely nothing consistent about being a Republican and voting for that bill. These people can absolutely be blamed for the passage of this bill, and in our view, should be treated just like Democrats -- meaning every single last one of them should draw a primary, because they are for all intents and purposes absolutely useless.

Here in Kansas, the same could be told for several members of the Johnson County delegation. The fact is, out of the 16 Republicans who we send to Topeka, up to six of them are never reliable for a vote on anything remotely conservative. As we covered earlier this year, it is these "moderates" that gave the state of Kansas yet another terrible budget despite all the economic signs pointing to the fact that more needed to be done.

One would think that such a dismal fiscal situation for the state would mean a "moderate" would actually moderATE and move away from the liberal spend-spend-spend dogma and vote conservative for once. But, see, as we said earlier -- they aren't moderates and they're not Republicans -- they're liberals, in almost every case.

Now, does this mean that there should be some litmus test on every issue? No. We favor a big tent here at Kaw & Border, but to us a Big Tent means tolerance for a different view on one or two issues. It does not mean being so big that a completely different political philosophy should be welcomed.

What we're advocating here is that conservatives and the Republican Party in general, particularly in this current state where Obama and company are driving every bad piece of legislation down our throats, recruit authentic conservative candidates who are committed to the party's principles. That doesn't mean they have to agree on every issue, but it does mean they hold a similar core philosophy.

Politically speaking, this means saying NO to RINO's. Not no to moderates -- but no to RINOs. This means, in primaries, recruiting conservative candidates against any RINO. Will everyone win? No. But as Newt Gingrich said the other day, a Rising Tide only can occur with enough boats in the water. Simply put, conservatives need to find boats in the water, and if they give them these candidates the support they need.

This all gets back to a fundamental point that too often, those who simply are involved in politics FOR the politics forget -- and that is that it's not just about wins and losses or about having an R or a D by your name. If the Republican Party is going to be successful, it can longer simply be a label for a candidate that vaguely means something to the right of the Democrats. The term "Republican" must mean something -- a set of core principles and values for which its candidates and officers will stive to uphold.

If conservatives and real Republicans do this, they will no longer be dependent upon the public's negative reaction to a Democratic line of mistakes -- but also proactive in giving the voting public something to vote for and be excited about. This will not only help Republicans get elected and stay elected, it will mean great things for the future of the state of Kansas and the nation as a whole.