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Mid-Morning Art Thread [Kris] | Main | Senate Passes Ukraine Funding Bill
April 24, 2024

Wednesday Morning Rant

mannixape2.jpg

In Name Only?

"Republican In Name Only" has been a pejorative for about as long as I've been politically aware. I remember it being bandied about often during the Bush 43 Administration, and less often but still commonly during the Clinton Administrations, when it was apparently first attested in print. It's been in use for an entire generation now, and been in frequent use for more than 20 years.

It remains evergreen despite the arrival of new and even more hostile appellations like "C*ckservative" (I'm not sure if that one will cause advertising grief in the main post, so apologies for the asterisk) that are also quite popular. Something about "RINO" just works and so it remains popular. It has an "X-factor" as far as political insults go and I doubt it will ever leave common parlance. That's too bad, really, because it should - or at very least, it should stop being an insult and become a compliment.


RINO is perhaps the least accurate political insult ever used. The fact that it has been in existence for so long and is still so useful is a testament to that. We don't still have "Nixonian Republicans" because it quit being relevant. We don't still have "Me Too Republicans" or most of the others. But we do still have the misnamed "RINOs" and the term isn't going anywhere because the disconnect between what the Republicans actually are and what their voters perceive them to be has never been solved.

Consider those who are famously "RINOs." They are men like John McCain and Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney and Adam Kinzinger. The list goes on. And on. And on. It's probably easier to name Republicans who are not "RINOs," and that should underscore the problem with the term. If virtually all of the prominent and powerful Republicans are "RINOs" and have been for decades (though with even greater concentrations today), the term is internally contradictory.

These men are not RINOs, they are "Republicans In Good Standing." These are not phony Republicans who work against the interests of the party. They work against the interests of their constituents, and of the people more broadly, but not of the party. They are not merely titular Republicans. These men and all of their fellow travelers are the Platonic Ideal of Republicans. They are the GOP. This is what the GOP has been for ages. This is what it wants to be. This is the party that puts forward red-meat legislation like ending Obamacare or improving border control when it can't possibly pass, and then refuses to even consider such unseemly things when they are actually in a position to make them happen. We also call this "failure theater," and it's part of the same concept. It's the GOP's modus operandi.

Those who do not behave this way - the odd man who seems to at least occasionally try to do something else - are the real RINOs. They are the ones who do not behave like Republicans. If someone is "in name only," it's the person who is hated by the rest, and the person whom the rest resent for bucking their trend and their norms. Those who normally get called "RINOs" don't deserve to be because they're the real, true, effective, "team player" Republicans who serve in the manner demanded by the party.

If you're looking for a RINO, don't look for a Nikki Haley or Paul Ryan, look for a Rand Paul or Matt Gaetz - or, if you are a Republican, you can probably just look in the mirror. These are the real RINOs.

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posted by Joe Mannix at 11:00 AM

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