Sometimes in conversations among Republicans, and more often on sites like RMG, you here the word “RINO,” a derogatory acronym for “Republican in Name Only.”
When I worked in DC (long ago) it was usually used by people from states that were socially conservative, to describe Republicans from states that were more socially liberal, and voted with their constituents. Rarely, it was used with regard to taxation and spending. But should it not be? Were all the Republicans in Congress from 1998-2006 RINOs because they spent so much money and expanded government so much? Why, then, were they not labeled as RINOs, if Republicans are committed to limited government?
Regardless, I never liked the word, and have never used it. It declares that there is some set of Republican principles carved in stone somewhere. It seemed to me like an act of self-destruction for party members to label who is, and is not, authentic. After all, is the success of a party not measured by how many people flock to its banner?
I can see the problem that powerful and popular state parties can have. People might jump on the bandwagon who aren’t really faithful to what you stand for. So, I imagine that there are DINOs in Massachusetts.
But how could there be RINOs here? Who the hell would adopt the label “Republican” when the brand is so unpopular, and there are so few party members in office? Nobody. In my mind, anyone who publicly identifies themselves a Republican is the real thing. If someone in Massachusetts is gay and pro-choice and calls himself a Republican, I would say, “Damn! You must have some super-powerful beliefs about limiting the role of government. Welcome aboard!”
So why is “RINO” thrown around so often? It’s easy to explain: Because of the influential, omnipresent media, lots of people have a national Republican identity, and not a state-level one. They therefore judge other Republicans in Massachusetts against a national scorecard. Or, even worse, they tune in only to very severe right-wing media, which isn’t trying to appeal to ordinary Republicans.
Therefore, some Republicans are “mentally” living in a middle-of-the-road state like Pennsylvania. They sometimes see RINOs around them. Others, who consume a lot of far-right media, are mentally living in Wyoming or South Carolina. They see RINOs everywhere, and they are outraged.
If some Republicans do not consider themselves political citizens of Massachusetts, I have no problem with that. Please rent a post office box in Nebraska and vote absentee, OK? Because for those who mentally exist as citizens of Massachusetts, there are no RINOs here, only people trying to figure out how to be a Republican in a very hostile environment. Some of them, due to their experience, will actually be much stronger than the Republicans who live in more friendly environments, where it is much easier to be Republican “in name only.”