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GOP-Stuck in The Middle

While a significant portion of the population is marching to the political left, in many sections of the country, running as a Republican is viewed as a requirement for being elected to political office. Hence the appearance of RINOs- Republicans In Name Only—within the GOP. Although RINOs purport to embrace a conservative view of the role of government, their true beliefs align more closely with the liberal philosophy in which government intrudes into virtually every aspect of life.

At the other end of the spectrum, conservatives, who subscribe to a set of values that includes minimizing, rather than maximizing the size and scope of government, are joined by CINOs—Conservatives in Name Only. Although CINOs do hold conservative ideals, they embrace some associated values so firmly, they willingly advocate government imposition of those values upon the overall population. In so doing, they tacitly endorse the same larger and more intrusive government they claim to reject.

The RINO/CINO predicament brings to mind lyrics of the old Stealers Wheel song, “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you”. For Republicans, the more appropriate lyrics are, “RINOs to the left of me, CINOs to the right, here we are stuck in middle trying to win elections.”

RINO/CINO issues are most problematical at the federal level, where government overreach and intrusion are most blatant, and voter diversity is broadest. While many RINOs will avoid outright endorsement of the more offensive components of the liberal agenda, they don’t seem to mind sanctioning legislation that expands government “just a little”, as exemplified by Republican senators who favor bringing gun control legislation forward, or those who support no-questions-asked amnesty for illegal immigrants. In essence, their position states that they don’t want to use a sledge hammer to open the door for more intrusive government, but they don’t mind drilling some holes.

Conversely, while CINO’s reject legislation with even the slightest hint of infringing on 2nd Amendment rights, they champion efforts to restrict gay rights and to criminalize abortion. The issue isn’t their objection to alternate lifestyles or after-the-fact birth control; the issue is their attempt to impose their beliefs on others through government overreach and intrusion. Personal beliefs aside, you’re either in favor of limited government or against it; government enforcement of “conservative values” does not constitute limited government.

Opinions about gay rights and abortion are frequently tied to religious philosophy, which presents unique challenges within any discourse concerning political positions. If there’s anything more incendiary than discussing religion or politics, it’s discussing religion AND politics. That is problematical for CINOs because their religious beliefs tend to form the foundation of their political philosophy. Many CINOs don’t see the connection between laws that enforce their beliefs and laws that enforce beliefs that they find objectionable.

Over in RINOland, religious beliefs tends to have little, if any impact on political philosophy; politics and religion are treated as related, but separate subjects, much as they are among liberals. One of the best illustrations of that type of separation is Joe Biden’s statement during his Vice Presidential debate with Paul Ryan. Biden stated that through his Catholic upbringing he believes that life begins at the point of conception; he also supports abortion, which implies he sanctions murder.

Many RINOs join Biden in apparently not seeing the conflict between a religious belief that defines the beginning point of human life, and a political position that government should not merely disregard the termination of embryonic life, but should financially support it.

A similar conflict exists in the difference in viewpoints regarding gay lifestyle issues; RINOs don’t see anything objectionable in same-sex relationships, CINOs see nothing but an absolutely objectionable lifestyle. And as with abortion, RINOs and CINOs are pulling at opposite ends of the Republican Party’s core philosophy, and alienating voters with more middle-of-the-road views.

The end result appears to be a fragmentation of Republican voters into blocks that either don’t vote, vote for a Libertarian Party candidate or vote for a Democrat, as the lesser of the available evils. That doesn’t help Republicans win elections. What will help is a straightforward redefinition of a conservative philosophy that emphasizes financial and social opportunity for all, without government-imposed constraints on, and vilification of personal choice options.

There is no implication in the foregoing paragraphs that “Christian values” should be hidden or abandoned. It is entirely possibly to both maintain and promote individual values without imposing them on people who don’t agree with them, or have yet to concretely define their own thoughts and beliefs.

The Democratic Party has managed to build a majority by bringing an array of minorities under its umbrella. It has also managed to portray itself as being sympathetic to voters who hold philosophies that fall well outside the Democratic platform. The Republican Party needs to take a similar approach. For the most part, the minorities it attracts will be noticeably different than those that gravitate to the left side of the political spectrum. But the effect on election results will be the same.

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