If you’re a Republican candidate for anything, the last thing you want to hear is for someone to call you a “RINO.” Especially if you’re running in a particularly red district.
But it’s become a laughable pejorative devoid of any pertinent meaning. These days, however, former president Donald Trump has redefined the term as “anyone who disagrees with me.”
A Short History of RINO
I remember hearing the term from the Tea Party days of 2009-10, but RINO, “Republican In Name Only,” goes back further. In fact, President Theodore Roosevelt first felt the insult when other Republicans criticized his trust-busting policies.
Later, while Ronald Reagan famously called the GOP the party of the “Big Tent,” polarization within the party began upon the election of Bill Clinton in 1992. Later, in 2012, activist Grover Norquist derived the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” which demanded no tax increases. Republican presidential candidates were expected to sign the pledge; anyone who didn’t was a “RINO.”
Fast forward to today, and now among avid Trump supporters a RINO is anyone who doesn’t support the former president. Especially if they don’t adhere to the Trump’s belief that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
Trump has even called his RINO opponents the “lowest form of human life.” I don’t know about you, but I can think of people much more despicable than people with whom I might politically disagree, but this is Trump we’re talking about here.
Trumpian Obsession with RINOs
In an opinion piece, National Review writer Rich Lowry calls Trump’s RINO test “ridiculous,” pointing out that this is the label he gives even to orthodox Republicans. Like Ron DeSantis and Brian Kemp, for instance:
Records aren’t kept on such things, but Trump is clearly the most promiscuous user of “RINO” in Republican Party history. He applies it to everyone from Republicans who now have a genuinely strained connection to the party, like Liz Cheney, to stand-out governors like DeSantis and Brian Kemp of Georgia.
It’s understandable why Trump might call Liz Cheney a RINO — I have no love lost for her myself, since I believe she has turned against her own party. But Ron DeSantis? What has the Florida governor done? As Lowry writes:
Of course, the former congressman and Florida governor hasn’t departed from Republican orthodoxy in any significant way during his career (and, in fact, now he’s helping to define it); he’s loyally supported the party’s candidates across the spectrum, and, as his fame and power have grown, campaigned for them; and he’s been a determined party-builder in Florida.
But DeSantis is going to declare his candidacy for president soon, and he’s is a true threat to Trump. In fact, a DeSantis super PAC just hired top GOP strategist Jeff Roe, who has a reputation as a bare-knuckles political fighter. If anyone can throw shade like Trump, it’s Jeff Roe, and Trump knows this.
Therefore, Ron DeSantis is a RINO.
Trump has called GA Governor Brian Kemp a RINO, and why? Because Kemp resisted Trump’s pressure to overturn the presidential election results in Georgia.
Former Attorney General Bill Barr is also a RINO since he called Trump’s claims of election fraud, “bullshit.” Currently I’m reading Barr’s memoir of his years in public service, One Damn Thing After Another, and I have learned that Barr has been a solid conservative Republican throughout his entire career — hardly a RINO.
And Barr is no different than most of the people whom Trump and his devotees have labeled as such. As Lowry writes:
Pretty much everyone he calls a RINO has devoted his or her adult life to the Republican Party.
As for Trump?
Prior to 2012, he ping-ponged back and forth among various party affiliations ….
This makes Trump an odd arbiter of who’s a genuine Republican or not. It’s not the zeal of the convert, because his own conversion is still tenuous and situational.
Yet in Trump World, the definition of a RINO is anyone who doesn’t express proper fealty to DJT.
When RINO Goes Wrong
Trump and his most ardent followers may think that using a pejorative like RINO will win them votes, but instead it can backfire.
Take the example of the Missouri Republican Senate primary from last year.
Eric Greitens, former Navy SEAL and Missouri governor, put out a campaign video called “RINO Hunting Permit.” It was not only cringeworthy, but earned Greitens the disapproval of the state’s Fraternal Order of Police.
The video was a negative for Greitens, especially since he has been accused of spousal abuse, sexual abuse, felony invasion of privacy, and campaign finance violations. In short, his life has been a hot mess, and that video didn’t help.
So in the end, Greitens was trounced by his opponent Eric Schmitt, who went on to win in the November general election. Both Schmitt and former Representative Vicky Hartzler, who also ran in the primary, have reputations as solid conservative Republicans — hardly the “RINOs” that Greitens made them out to be.
Despite the media’s accusations, Greitens’ campaign claimed that the video didn’t promote violence. You may or may not agree. Many might even find it to be a clever play on the term RINO.
But it didn’t win Greitens the nomination, just as the term RINO doesn’t win over the support of traditional Republicans or independents. Plus, as Gallup has found, independents continue to be the largest group in American politics. Don’t we want to win their votes?
Instead, RINO has become a mindless pejorative term that, as Lowry writes, has “outlived its usefulness.” It does nothing more than further divide an already fractured party. The problem is, however, is that it’s not going away until Trump does.
Trump’s definition of a RINO is a travesty, and it’s used to abuse Republicans in good standing whose commitment to the party is deeper and more principled than his will ever be.
Can we just stop using the term RINO?
Featured image: Brand X Studio/used by permission.
The post RINO: Can We Just Stop With This Label? appeared first on Victory Girls Blog.
Click this link for the original source of this article.
Author: Kim Hirsch
This content is courtesy of, and owned and copyrighted by, https://victorygirlsblog.com and its author. This content is made available by use of the public RSS feed offered by the host site and is used for educational purposes only. If you are the author or represent the host site and would like this content removed now and in the future, please contact USSANews.com using the email address in the Contact page found in the website menu.