Acronym for ‘Republican in Name Only’ – basically an officeholder or candidate who is a member of the Republican Party to the extent it serves their own interests, but holds views to the political left of most Republican voters, or simply puppets of the liberal media wants. Since elected GOP officials tend to be less conservative than the party base, a relatively large number of RINOs are entrenched members of the party organization. They also tend to resort to cronyism to fill key government positions, and often are career politicians. RINOs often provide support for raising taxes, abortion as a “right”, homosexual “rights” and gun control. Some RINOs have connections with Planned Parenthood or corporations that support goals of population control; other RINOs pay lip service to pro-life values while in practice not advancing those values.
Some conservative commentators have also referred to them as RUNTs (Republican Under Nominal Terms), while another, less frequently used term for them is a DIAN (Democrat in All but Name) because of their embracing of most of the Democrat Party’s social and fiscal platforms while operating nominally as a Republican.
Double standards by RINOs are common: a birther comment by Romney during his campaign was supposedly a “nothing”, but Todd Akin‘s pro-life comment would somehow “absolutely” cost RINOs control of the U.S. Senate!
RINOs typically come from Democrat strongholds in New England, the Mid-Atlantic; or states on the Left Coast where local GOP organizations are weak or nonexistent. Many are Reform-Democrats who cannot advance in corrupt Democrat political machines. A less-used term is cafeteria conservative, for a person who picks and chooses which conservative principles to believe, as a person might choose foods in a cafeteria instead of ordering the full-course menu selected by the chef at most restaurants. In contrast to RINO’s and cafeteria conservatives, movement conservatives understand that since conservative philosophy is a coherent whole, it is untenable to discard part of it without discarding all of it.
The RINO targets of attack argue they follow middle of the road policies and are not liberals; they claim they get results, and insist that without them the Congress would be totally controlled by liberal Democrats and Republicans would rarely have any success. Conservatives respond that in the heyday of “Rockefeller liberalism” in the GOP the Democrats always controlled Congress, and the GOP only took power when Newt Gingrich launched a national conservative “Contract with America” in 1994, ending 40 years of Democrat control of the House. The notion that we need to elect Democrat-lite type of politicians is false. The election cycles of 2010 and 2012 proved that many RINO candidates are unelectable. RINO candidates wasted millions of dollars; Meg Whitman, Scott Brown, Linda McMahon, and many others could not connect with the people in liberal blue states.
In recent Republican primaries, voters have been rejecting establishment RINOs in favor of those with stronger conservative principles. Their commitment to self and not party is evident in their refusal to endorse the candidate that beats them. In some instances, they refuse the will of the voters and their party by running for office on an independent ticket. It is important to vote for someone who’s more conservative on the issues rather than for a Republican because anyone can join a party and be they can be RINOs. In Presidential primaries, however, RINOs are often heavily favored. In 2008 and 2012, RINOs John McCain and Mitt Romney were nominated, respectively and RINOs such as Chris Christie are being considered for 2016.