10.01.2008 0

Taking Aim

  • On: 10/07/2008 14:59:06
  • In: Republican in Name Only (RINO)

  • RINO’s, or Republicans In Name Only, was a clever derogatory term created by commentator Celeste Greig in 1994 to denote those very special “Republicans” who pretend to be conservatives when they run for office, but upon being elected, abandon their principles in favor of compromising with the Left, or catering to a mainstream, liberal media.

    Over the years, the term has been applied to establishment Republicans such as Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, or Maryland Congressman Wayne Gilchrest. And apparently, today, they are an endangered species.

    One organization taking aim at these officials who have wandered off the sound, conservative reservation is the Club for Growth. Yesterday, former Pennsylvania Congressman Pat Toomey, the PAC’s president, defended the practice in the pages of the Wall Street Journal in the aptly titled piece, “In Defense of RINO Hunting.”

    In it, he quotes prominent Republicans who have denounced the organization such as Pennsylvania Congressman Jim Greenwood, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and most recently, Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole, Chair of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee:

    “‘The problem I have with the Club is I think they’re stupid,’ Mr. Cole said. ‘They spend more money beating Republicans than Democrats.’”

    “Republicans would be better off, the argument goes, if the Club PAC spent its money targeting Democrats instead of liberal Republicans. This is the argument of politicians who care more about maintaining power than using that power to implement conservative policies.

    “Thus comes the demand for an uncompromising obeisance to the bottom line: Elect as many Republicans as possible, regardless of how they will vote once in office.

    “It is for this reason that challenges to incumbents are deemed sacrilegious, no matter how far the incumbent has strayed from conservative principles. And it is for this reason that party leaders defend some of the most liberal incumbents, also known as RINOs (Republicans in Name Only), and assail the Club PAC for helping to elect true conservatives.”

    Lest anyone think that the Club for Growth was mistakenly taking aim at otherwise conservative Republicans who were in fact adhering to principles of limited government, one need only consider Mr. Toomey’s examples of former Senator Lincoln Chafee and former Michigan Congressman Joe Schwarz:

    “Mr. Chafee, who was defeated, switched his party affiliation to Independent and has endorsed Barack Obama for president. Following his loss to conservative Tim Walberg in the 2006 primary, Rep. Schwarz of Michigan backed a state-level tax hike, and threatened to run against Mr. Walberg as a Democrat.”

    In other words, these “representatives” truly were Republicans In Name Only! Way to support the party’s nominees, guys…

    Partisans are rightly outraged by the protection of worthless incumbents by party leadership in primaries. Traditionally, primaries are an opportunity for the base of a party to test incumbents, and to weed out representatives that do not follow the party line.

    If a candidate promises to do one thing when elected, and then commits to actions completely contrary to those precepts, voters and political organizations have every right to back another candidate who does. America is a republic, not an aristocracy. Incumbents are most certainly not entitled to their seats in government, nor for protection from on-high to save them when they get into a tough primary.

    Party leadership ought to really stay out of primary battles, and simply promise to back the party’s nominees. It is one thing for local party organizations to back one candidate or another for Congress and quite another for a Congressional campaign committee to give preference to incumbents. What matter is it to a national committee who a Congressional district’s party nominee is?

    Perhaps Mr. Toomey puts it best when he writes:

    “Winning for the sake of winning is an excellent short-term tactic, but a lousy long-term strategy. Just look at the consequences of the 2006 congressional elections, when the GOP lost control of both houses of Congress… A Republican majority is only as useful as the policies that majority produces. When those policies look a lot like Democratic ones, the base rightly questions why it should keep Republicans in power.”

    If those in power do not act upon the principles which get them elected, they should expect a primary. Take note, RINO’s. You could be next.

    ALG Perspective:
    ALG News would like to tip our hats to the Club for Growth for remaining committed to advancing conservative principles in government, and demanding results from elected officials. Their hard line against RINO’s keeps representatives on their toes, and reminds them that they are accountable to the people via the primary process. Historically, the incumbency advantage in the House of Representatives may be about 95% in the general election, but that advantage does not mean that Congressmen need not pay attention to voter concerns. There is more to sitting in government than consolidating and concentrating power. Power is the means to an end – usually some reform or another – not the end in itself.

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