Again and again, I hear conservatives decry the RINOs, the supposed conservatives who vote more often with the center or even the left. They keep asking why we have such a large group of non-conservatives in the party and why we are burdened with RINOs while the Democrats remain relatively unified.
Well, first, as Obama is showing, the Democrats are hardly as unified as Republicans think. Just as we have RINOs, they have DINOs, who tend to cross over as often as voting the party line. Just think of the term "Reagan Democrats". At least we don't hear about "Gore Republicans".
But ignoring that, the answer to why we have so many RINOs is simple, we allow them in, some of us even are them, at least when it comes to some issues. Just think about how many conservatives suddenly accept big government solutions when it comes to oil or foreign trade. Think of how many Buchananites and Perot followers are still in the party. We want a "big tent" accepting all comers who say they are conservative, no matter what their real beliefs.
Look at foreign policy and trade and tell me how Obama and Pat Buchanan differ? Except that Buchanan likes Moslems a bit more, they are indistinguishable, yet people are willing to call Buchanan a "paleo-conservative".
And that is your answer, short and sweet. We have RINOs because we never defined what a conservative is. For fear of driving some from the big tent, we left the definition wide open and many slipped in who we now regret. If you don't want big government "conservatives", then define what a conservative is, and make sure it excludes big government policies.
Simple, is it not?
I am sure some who read my post are going to argue that it isn't the "paleocons" and others who are the problem but the "Rockefeller Republicans", that caricature of old money country club members. However, has anyone ever met an actual Rockefeller Republican? Or anyone who supports them? I have certainly seen posts by thousands who argue for trade restrictions or think that any oil we drill in the US should somehow be forced to go to the US. And we saw how many supposed conservatives were ready to embrace a big government guy like Huckabee.
Yes, there may a handful of those Rockefeller Republicans, but no more. The far greater problem, in terms of RINOs are those who are partly conservative and partly supporters of big government. The supposed "Rockefeller Republicans" are no longer a meaningful voice within the party. Those who blend conservative and liberal philosophies are.
Originally Published in Nation of Whiners on 2008/07/21.