Crony Capitalism, Political Strategy

We Are the RINOs

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You, dear reader, you and I are the RINOs.Elephant Dung

We can now stop calling the crony capitalists and their legislative puppets RINO. They are the TRUE Republicans. It’s their party; a lobbyist bought it for them, not for us. They own it. We are the impostors, the fakes, the interlopers into an intimate mating dance between the masters of manipulation and the TBTF banks and corporate overlords.

Step back. Take a breath.

We Had It Backwards

I understand why you think the Roy Blunts and Thad Cochrans of the world are the impostors. I used to think so, too. I read the Republican platform. I listened to the Republican speeches. I read the Republican position papers. And mostly I agreed.

Then I watched the Big Republican Names–the Establishment–go out day after day and do the opposite. Or, more often, the Big Republicans would slither between the carefully crafted text of its documents to a position that felt comfy and consistent. To them, at least.

Do you know what “is” is?

When I saw their inconsistencies–what others less charitable than I might call “hypocrisies”–I said, “Wait a minute. That’s not the Republican way! We don’t grant favors to donors. We don’t take one person’s property and give it to someone with more clout. We play referee and let the players decide the outcome of the game.”

But when I railed against Republican inconsistencies, I was forgetting an important lesson–a lesson I learned from my mom and dad and the Dominican Sisters at Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic Grade School, God rest its soul. I forgot that words don’t matter. I forgot this most valuable lesson:

We are what we do consistently.

Yes, I believe in lex orandi, lex credendi: the law of praying [is] the law of believing. But it only works if we pray a lot and let the prayers work their magic. It doesn’t work if we pray with bad intent. We can stop the magic of prayer. And if we pray for two minutes a day and sin for 20 hours, we become the sin, not the prayer.

Identifying Marks of a Republican

So what do the Big Republicans do consistently? They grant favors for friends with power and money. Doing favors for powerful and rich friends is what it means to be Republican. It’s what they’ve become through consist behavior. A party exists to preserve and grow its own party, not to save the country.

That’s the whole issue in the Export-Import Bank case. Eric Cantor and his myrmidons in the House kept the Ex-Im alive to help their rich and powerful friends at Boeing and Caterpillar.

And it’s the issue with guys like Senator Cochran. Thad Cochran, every day, finds ways to take money from people in other states and give it to voters in Mississippi.

And then there’s the Missouri Republican legislators grant $800,000,000 in benefits to donors on the last day of the session.

True Republicans take from everybody and give to the rich and powerful. It’s not what they say; it’s what they do. (Tom Delay, anyone?)

We who work for the Tea Party and Campaign for Liberty and all the other groups who fight for level playing fields and the rule of law and Constitutional limits to power–we’re the weirdos. We’re deviants who violate the spirit of Republicanism.

Again, it’s an easy mistake to make. Many of us remember Reagan. Many of us studied Goldwater. We all read William F. Buckley. And we assume that Republicanism is what Reagan, Goldwater, and Buckley stood for. But it wasn’t.

Like us, Reagan, Goldwater, and Buckley were political deviants. They violated the spirit of Republican Party law. They may have influenced the party’s platform, but the platform is only words. The Party is the sum of its deeds, not the sum of its glittering generalities.

How to Change the Party: Leverage

Can we change the party? Sure. But it takes a long time. And we need leverage. And the party has to want to change.

We’ve tried using primaries as a lever, but that’s like David playing Goliath’s game. Primaries are what Republicans and Democrats do best. They invented the system, for God’s sake; do you really think you’ll beat them at their game? Hell, no.

Tea Party Inc. (FreedomWorks, Tea Party Express, Tea Party Patriots) are good people and all, but they operate just like the Chamber of Commerce. They try to beat the Establishment at the Establishment’s game, and they get their asses kicked almost every time.

Maybe Reagan and Buckley could commandeer the party now and then, but Reagan and Buckley were kinds of geniuses. We’re not. At least, I’m sure as hell no genius.

We are Davids, and Davids fight a different game if they want to win. Davids don’t rush Goliath with a boastful yell. They find a new weapon, new tactics, new fields of battle. Or they repurpose old ones.

But There’s a New Dichotomy in Town

When I write about the new American political dichotomy, I’m writing about our slingshot. That slingshot is our lever.

Political party survival depends on having a large block of voters it can take for granted. People who vote for the party no matter what. People who lie say terrible things about the party and its leaders, then go out and vote for that party anyway.

For Democrats, it’s African-Americans. The Democrats can do or say anything and still get 90% of the black vote. Anything at all.

For Republicans, conservatives and conservitarians serve the role of sycophant. No matter how badly the GOP violates our principles, we’ll vote Republican because the Democrats are even worse.

A sycophant sucks up to someone in power to gain an advantage or favor. Conservatives, libertarians, and blacks have been sucking up to Republican and Democrat power for decades. Do we get favor? No. We get scraps, pats on the head, and kicks in the teeth.

But what if the sycophants de-sycophantify? What if the abused people of both parties say, “screw this?” What if the taken-for-granted plebeians wake up and realize that we have more in common with other plebeians than we have in common with either of the two Big Parties?

Then David fractures Goliath’s freakishly big skull with a rock, and Goliath collapses in a heap.

And then David better be prepared to run things well, because David will soon be king.

You can be a RINO or you can be David, but you can’t be a Republican. Not now, anyway. It’s a closed club.

Call me David.

Author: William Hennessy

Co-founder of St. Louis Tea Party Coalition and Nationwide Chicago Tea Party Persuasive design expertLatest book: Turning On Trump: An Evolution (2016)Author of The Conservative Manifest (1993), Zen Conservatism (2009), Weaving the Roots (2011), and Fight to Evolve (2016)I believe every person deserves the dignity of meaningful work as the only path to human flourishing.

16 Comments on “We Are the RINOs

  1. I completely understand the frustration. I’ve been working my way through much frustration over the last 18 months to even learn about the political party system. Are advocating for a new political party here, the abandonment of political parties, or what?

    1. Dustin,

      Thank you for reading and for writing.

      I’ll be honest, I’m not yet advocating a new party. I don’t think. I am advocating shaking off the trappings of Republican and Democrat. They’re two sides of the same coin. We saw what the GOP stands for in Mississippi last week–preserving the power of the GOP and nothing else. There is nothing they won’t do to preserve their power. Nothing at all.

      Maybe we do need a new party. Maybe the strong libertarian bent among Millennials will eventually hit a tipping point–they could rescue the GOP from the crony capitalist preservationists running it now, or they might swell the Libertarian Party into a viable alternative.

      For my part, I plan to serve up a steady diet of anti-establishment news and thoughts. I’m going to highlight the non-establishment party candidates, even if I don’t agree with them. I want to inspire enough people to walk away from the two power-hungry parties to either force them to reform or to challenge them with something new.

      It’s just too early to tell.

      1. Bill –

        As always, I appreciate your perspective and find it very thought-provoking. In fact, it was posts from your blog 18+ months ago that inspired me to get educated about the political party system that is currently in our state of Missouri. I reached out to several people who were much more educated than I was – people like Frieda Keough, Mike Gosnell, Rabbi Eukel, Sue Cook, Holly Lintner, Brian Bollmann, and so forth. And over these months, I have learned a TON from them and from digging into things myself. What I’ve discovered through that process is amazing to me. For starters, I was surprised by the fact that, before I began this process, I was nothing more than an “informed” fool. I had previously considered myself to be quite in-tune with the goings-on of politics at the national and state levels, even though I had INTENTIONALLY avoided “joining up” with any political party (I’m one of those pesky millennials you speak about from time to time). Once I started to get educated about the Republican Party in our state, primarily as a result of former Rep. Jo Ann Emerson’s retirement just after being re-elected in 2012, I realized just how uneducated I was. I’d have to say I’m much more educated now, but I also know there is much I have yet to learn.

        With that said, I’d like to draw attention to one thing you stated in your reply above. You stated, “We saw what the GOP stands for in Mississippi last week – preserving the power of the GOP and nothing else.” I think you’ve failed to point out a very important distinction: we saw what the GOP *leadership* stands for in Mississippi. As you and I well know, the members of the GOP actually nominated Chris McDaniel, not Cochran. I’m pointing this out because it’s important for people to realize that a political party, including Republicans, is not “owned” by its leadership, but rather by its members. And just like in our system of government, we get the leaders we deserve. People must know that leaders are just stewards of the organization, and those stewards CAN be replaced IF we understand how to do it, and more importantly, WHOSE job it is to do it.

        During my research, one of the first things I found that bothered me was the “open primary” election we have in our state (along with several other states, including Mississippi). And along with Frieda Keough and Jeannine Huskey, we started a group on Facebook to discuss a way to bring about closed primaries in Missouri. Closing the primary elections is just one way in which “we the people” need to start the process to rectify corruption. When is the last time you heard someone say “I just try to vote for the lesser of the two evils” regarding the general election? It’s TOO common. But that is EXACTLY what those in power, or to use your term, the Elite, want everyone to be saying, so that we all eventually give up on it as a “lost cause.”

        There are so many things I think should be done in our state statutes and in the MO GOP to rectify corruption and return the political power back to whom it belongs: the people. The situation in Mississippi highlights one of those things, but there are many more. For instance, do you know the difference between a “first past the post” voting system and other voting systems?



        1. Dustin,

          First, don’t underestimate your knowledge and insights. You’re probably in the top 2 percentile of Americans right now.

          Second, you have the most important quality a person can have: curiosity. If there’s anything missing in people today, it’s curiosity.

          Third, thank you for pointing out the difference between Republican leadership and Republican rank-and-file. I’m not sure the GOP leadership agrees, though, and that’s my point in this.

          Like most systems, political parties depend on leverage. The Republican support infrastructure controls a megaton of leverage. When a guy Thad Cochran is in trouble, that infrastructure will do anything it deems necessary to save him. If that infrastructure had reliable polling it would have done anything necessary to save Eric Cantor, too. The difference between Virginia and Mississippi was the run-off. The initial primary served as a reliable opinion poll, allowing the Republican infrastructure to act. In Virginia, the Republicans relied on their antiquated, broken polling tools and lost.

          For generations it seems conservatives and libertarian-ish folks have provided the GOP with sure votes. We knocked doors, donated money, slapped McCain and Romney stickers on our cars, made calls for Dole and Bush, even proudly wore our Gerald Ford WIN buttons, as if a happy acronym could stop inflation in its tracks.

          Even though principled folks found the party’s direction and candidates appalling, not to mention the tactics insiders used to derail conservative outsiders, we put the party first.

          Being a reliable vote means no leverage.

          Sure, we can fight both the media and the GOP and try to take over the party’s infrastructure. That means fighting Goldman Sachs and General Motors and Monsanto and the US Chamber of Commerce and just about every other Fortune Anything corporation.

          Or we can take back some of our leverage by refusing to vote and campaign and donate and work for candidates we don’t believe in.

          We have other choices. And, while we might not be able to get those other choices elected, we might be able stop Republicans who stand for nothing but themselves, their party, and their contributors.

          In short, I’m taking back my tiny little lever tactically. I’ll lay it on the fulcrum of my choosing, not the GOP’s. I don’t have a lot of power, but the little power I have is mine, not Reince Priebus’s or Ann Wagner’s or Kit Bond’s. And yours is yours.

          As people realize that the power is their own to wield as they see fit, each person will accrue more power than he ever dreamed he had. And pretty soon, millions of levers will be moving mountains.

  2. I am so over being a Republican. After 70 years, I am seeing the light and realize that the GOP I supported all these years no longer believes in the same values I hold. What the GOP did in Mississippi to re-elect the establishment candidate is over the top and will no longer receive my contributions nor my vote.

  3. Thanks for another great analysis of the Republican party. I plan to join the party of Davids and stop being a RINO.

  4. I agree COMPLETELY! My new favorite saying (taken from a cartoon) is: “You know, sometimes I think the Republicans and Democrats are just different cheeks on the same butt.”

    Bill, you’re absolutely correct – we need to change tactics. I’ve never been a party loyalist, but I have for the most part voted Republican. I want to make a statement to the Republican party to show them that they have lost much of their base – but, how? Vote Democrat and let it ALL come down around us?

    I miss Ross Perot’s pie charts and self-funding . . .

    1. Nope. Don’t vote Democrat. Don’t vote Republican, either. Know the candidates. Undervote races that don’t offer a choice.

      Parties exist to preserve and grow their own power. The only real leverage we can get is to threaten that power.

      The ground-up process might work, but the US Chamber of Commerce (and the Missouri Chamber) are now putting all their money into blocking that ground-up strategy. The US Chamber has already spent over $7 million preserving things like Thad Cochran. And the Republicans have no trouble doing the Democrats’ bidding in order to save a scurvy old spider like Cochran.

      In that Mississippi race, we finally saw just how rotten the GOP is.

  5. David is quite the example!…the God part, I mean!
    I am certain the cards need to be in God’s hands now.
    Miracles are the cure.
    Ever read Federer’s “Miracles in American History?”
    Now THOSE were some prayers!
    Unmerited divine favor = grace.
    Screw the Republicans…except for Bongino and Lee, IMO.
    There may even be a local two or three!

    1. Yes, HC. There are many people who call themselves Republicans but avoid the party’s traps. These liberty loyalists have it tough, frustrating road to hoe.

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