John Hawkins, who blogs at Right Wing News, has a new column up at Townhall entitled "Five Hard Truths for RINOS." As a pro-choice Republican who supports some sort of amnesty for illegal immigrants, gay marriage, and has other heretical positions, I qualify as a RINO when viewed by hardcore conservatives. Here's my RINO response to Hawkins' five points.
1. We've already gone the moderate route -- and lost. This makes no sense and is an overreaction to McCain's loss. How many strongly, ideologically conservative candidates have won the presidency, other than Ronald Reagan? McCain didn't lose because he was too moderate. He lost because this was a "change" election, he had no clear message, and his opponent was simply a better candidate in almost every respect -- other than his positions on the issues. And on the issues, Obama ran as what? Yeah, a moderate.
2. A "moderate" GOP can't generate the volunteers or money needed to win. Again, I think Hawkins' analysis is based too heavily on John McCain. Hawkins argues that running a moderate depresses the base & hurts fundraising. But McCain was not just any moderate. Because of his actions & his political grandstanding over the past eight years, John McCain was especially despised by the Republican base. Short of Chuck Hagel, McCain was probably the most disliked Republican among conservative Republicans. Let's look at Mitt Romney. Most people consider him a moderate Republican. Would the right-wing base have been demoralized in the same way, had Romney been the nominee? I don't think so.
3. There can be no fiscal conservatism in D.C. without social conservatism. As a fiscal conservative who is not a social conservative, I find this argument strange. Hawkins points out that if you look at pro-choice Republicans, "at least 75%" of them are also "big spenders." Well, this may be true of the current Congress. But it is not true that you have to be a social conservative in order to be fiscally conservative. Ask libertarians. The current makeup of Congress does not preclude us from electing people who are fiscally conservative yet socially moderate.
4. The GOP's drop amongst Hispanics hasn't been caused by opposition to illegal immigration. I agree with Hawkins that support or opposition to illegal immigration is exaggerated as a cause for gaining or losing Hispanic support. Hispanics aren't single issue voters. Depending on the overall situation, and his other positions, I believe it is possible for a Republican with a hard line on illegal immigration to achieve a higher level of Hispanic support than John McCain. And any position on illegal immigration should be based on what is best for the country, not on whether or not it gains or loses Hispanic support.
5. The GOP cannot win without the conservative media. Hawkins writes:
that the GOP absolutely cannot win elections when they're telling everyone who'll listen that the Republican Party is mediocre.I think he's correct for the reasons given in the article. I'm not a big fan of Limbaugh, Hannity, and other conservative radio hosts, but they are a vital part of the GOP base. The Republican party is a large national organization. It is not necessary, or even benefical, that everyone agree on every issue. But the GOP cannot afford to ignore this part of the base, or nominate candidates they are going to work against.