From 2004 until 2010, I essentially made my living as a paid Republican hack. So it’s really remarkable to me that I discover that I am, according to the Tea Party, a RINO.
RINO, in case you been living under a rock for the past decade, is an acronym that stands for Republican In Name Only. In order to be a true Republican, one must swear eternal allegiance to every last Republican tenet or risk being shunned by those More Republican Than Thou.
The problem, however, is that it becomes harder and harder to pinpoint exactly what those tenets are. It’s not easy to identify the ideological underpinnings of a movement driven by anger rather than reason.
Take, for example, Herman Cain.
I know I said plenty about that guy yesterday, but it’s worth noting that if the Republican Party stands for anything, it’s lower taxes. So how to explain the fact that the Tea Party’s latest darling is someone who wants to jack taxes up sky high for well over half of Americans? Then people like me come along and say that’s a bad idea, and somehow we’re the RINOs.
Something is very wrong with this picture.
It’s remarkable to me that the Republican Party has been able to maintain a high level of Ronald Reagan worship amid all of the Tea Party nastiness, when it’s painfully clear that on two of the most pressing issues facing our nation, namely entitlements and immigration, Ronald Reagan was the epitome of RINOism. Reagan was guilty of doubling the payroll tax to shore up Social Security and offering real amnesty to illegal aliens, not the pretend amnesty that President Bush proposed and caused conniption fits among rhinoceros haters.
Indeed, watching the immigration issue play out here in the state of Utah is particularly fascinating. The Tea Party in Utah somehow manages to outcrazy the Tea Partiers nationally by adopting the policy positions of one W. Cleon Skousen, a dead John Birch Society relic who made a living by mixing rancid interpretations of Mormon prophecy into hard right politics. (Glenn Beck is Mr. Skousen’s intellectual stepchild.) The smug self-righteousness of the Skousenites is truly staggering, but that doesn’t trouble them at all, because they’re going to heaven and you’re not. In their mind, religion and Republicanism are the same thing.
But then a strange thing happened. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints came out with a very tolerant and inclusive call for immigration laws that are reasonable and workable and don’t involve rounding up a dozen million people and tossing them over the border to Tijuana. The LDS Church does not make it a habit to inject itself into political discussions on a regular basis, so on the rare instances when they do so, members of the church ought to stand up and take notice.
Utah’s Tea Party did exactly that. At the Utah Republican State Convention this past year, they passed resolutions to say why the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was dead wrong on this issue.
Apparently, it’s more important to these Super Mormons to be Republican than it is to be Mormon.
Ronald Reagan once said he didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left him. I believe the same things I have always believed, and yet now I am not a real Republican, and, according to Utah Republicans, I’m probably not a real Mormon, either.
This needs to stop.
Mainstream conservatives – and mainstream Mormons, for that matter – need to stand up and reassert themselves. There are still more of us in Utah than there are of them. If we let them continue to define what constitutes being a Republican, then we have no one to blame but ourselves when there isn’t a single political party that represents what mainstream conservatives believe.
RINOs and MINOs, unite! You have nothing to lose but your green Jell-O salad!