Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Time for RINOs to stand up

Kathleen Parker, center-right editorialist for the Washington Post, hopes that RINOs will take back the Republican Party.  So do I.

RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) are the definition of center-right politicians.  I believe they are the natural complement to Obama, who I consider to be center-left.  RINOs have long been attacked by the fervid on the far-right as being unworthy to be called Republicans.  But, I believe that it is the extremists on the right who are killing the Republican Party, and hurting the country in the bargain.  

The passionate and inflexible evangelicals, second amendment absolutists, libertarians, and social issue conservatives are all very sincere, rigidly committed to their own versions of idealism, and see compromise and deal making as signs of weakness and a failing of moral character.  They are fanatics. And fanatics cannot govern through the actions of politics, they are only temperamentally capable of ruling by decree. 

Indeed, I believe it is the far-right who are actually Republicans in name only.  Republican politicians, by definition it seems to me, are politicians.  And politicians, it seems to me, are by definition those who are dedicated to governing via the political process.  And the political process, it seems to me, is by definition the process of give and take, compromise, deal making, getting most of what you want in the context of negotiating with others who want different things.  

The far-right don’t seem to have any give on abortion, taxes, religious issues, military spending, unfettered free markets, etc. etc.  They seem to see politics itself as immoral.  I think if they are not marginalized by the mainstream Republicans, RINOs, the center-right Republicans, the Republican Party is in danger of becoming obsolete, and going the way of the Whigs.

Interestingly, enough, as I understand it, the Whigs had split into two factions prior to the Civil War: the Conscience Whigs (anti-slavery) and the Cotton Whigs (pro-South).  They eventually disappeared as the Conscience Whigs became part of the newly formed Republican Party, which was anti-slavery (some hard core abolitionists, and mostly Free-Soil members opposed to the expansion of slavery as the U.S. expanded into the west).  So, the Republican Party absorbed the northern anti-slavery Whigs, and the Democratic Party absorbed the southern pro-slavery Whigs.

If today’s Republican Party disintegrates, it is hard to see how a strong party can emerge.  I would seem that it would break up into Libertarian, Evangelical, and Moderates – none of which would have enough members to be a viable alternative to the Democratic Party.  So, perhaps the party’s only future lies in the RINOs taking over the party and having the Libertarians and evangelicals become less influential voices on the margins, but stay within the party trying to influence policy by – politics, persuasion, compromise, deal making.  

What I don’t want to happen is for the Democratic Party to become the only viable political party in the country, because, regardless of any party’s principles it will become corrupt and blind if it becomes a monopoly.

So, go RINOs go.