A disturbing new way of campaigning has popped up on the Republican side: labeling other Republican candidates you oppose “RINOs” when they haven’t earned the credentials. Because much of politics comes down to money these days, billionaires are buying elected offices, shoving genuine conservatives out of the way with these false labels. Anyone with money can slap the “America First” label on themselves and label a conservative who’s worked in the trenches – or a new one who is loudly standing up for core conservative principles like election integrity that most don’t dare to – a RINO.
The problem becomes worse when these dishonest or fake candidates get into the general election races. Their dishonesty and inexperience gets exposed, and they end up costing the GOP a seat by losing. And the ones who actually are able to win the general election cannot be trusted.
It’s pretty easy to figure out who real RINOs are. They have low ratings from conservative groups like the American Conservative Union (which rates state legislators now as well), they have a history of supporting or voting with Democrats, they bash solid conservatives such as Donald Trump, they claim there is no election fraud, etc.
Is RINO a meaningless term?
This new field of candidates backed by big money is taking advantage of and abusing this common criticism by greatly expanding the definition, which renders the term meaningless. They blast conservatives with solid records as “swamp creatures” and pull up obscure incidents from the pasts of newcomers daring to speak out on election fraud and other controversial issues.
It’s become quite controversial due to seeping into Trump’s endorsements. For the most part, Trump’s endorsements have correctly picked the solid conservative in primary races. But there have been a few races where things have gone on behind the scenes and most conservatives would agree he chose the wrong person.
The late conservative leader and writer William F. Buckley Jr. came up with the Buckley Rule, which states that in political races, conservatives should support the most electable conservative. Some of Trump’s endorsements have not followed this rule — although to his credit, occasionally he’s withdrawn endorsements after seeing his candidates perform poorly in their races.
Two of his questionable endorsements came as the result of lobbying from California tech billionaire Peter Thiel. Thiel convinced Trump to endorse JD Vance in the Senate race in Ohio, over the solid conservative Josh Mandel. Vance accused Mandel, a former Ohio Treasurer who is backed by Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, of being a RINO. But in 2016, Vance said about Trump, “I can’t stomach Trump. I think that he’s noxious and is leading the white working class to a very dark place.” He labeled himself a Never Trumper and worried the former president could be “America’s Hitler.” Vance ultimately won the primary race.
The other Thiel-backed candidate is running for U.S. Senate in Arizona, in another “Twilight Zone” race. This brand-new “Richie Rich” candidate, who has done nothing but live off of Thiel’s money for his career, has finagled Trump’s endorsement and constantly bashes the solid conservative in the race as a RINO. Blake Masters, who opponents refer to as “Fake Blake,” has no history as a conservative and a long record as a radical Libertarian, who once convinced a friend to become pro-choice on abortion. But due to millions from Thiel including the coveted Trump endorsement, he has been able to make proactive, solid conservative Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich falsely look weak.
His millions have infiltrated conservative media, social media, and other outlets to portray Brnovich as do-nothing when it comes to election fraud, when nothing could be further from the truth. An offhand remark Brnovich made about a day after the 2020 election where he said he hadn’t personally seen any fraud yet has been stretched into saying Brnovich didn’t believe there was fraud at all.
In reality, Brnovich has fought the fraud harder than anyone, walking a very fine line between getting the left-leaning judicial system to recognize it versus getting disbarred — he’s barely made it through 12 bar complaints filed against him and his staff from Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. The reckless things Masters says are very likely to get him disbarred — and The Week says he doesn’t even believe there was fraud
Polls show Brnovich scores at least five points better than Masters against Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in the general election. Masters has said so many offensive things — and still continues to do so — that Kelly will destroy him in the general election.
Arizona governor’s race
Another bizarre race in Arizona is the GOP gubernatorial primary, which is between a clear RINO, Karrin Taylor Robson, and a clear conservative who is endorsed by Trump, Kari Lake. Lake has had a meteoric rise in the race, due to her brilliance, years of experience with media as a news anchor for years and unflinching stance on issues like election fraud that many Republicans are scared to champion.
But Robson, who is largely funded by her wealthy husband, claims status as the conservative in the race, constantly pointing to a couple of small donations Lake made to Barack Obama and John Kerry in the early 2010s when she was briefly a Democrat.
The reality is Robson’s record is horrible — and it was when she was a Republican. While serving as a regent for ASU, she voted against a bill that the Arizona Legislature was considering – which is now law – banning abortions for fetal abnormalities like Down syndrome. She voted to give illegal immigrants subsidized tuition at Arizona universities, lower than American citizens in other states pay. Brnovich sued the universities over this and forced them to stop the practice. She worked as a paid lobbyist for the leftist, open-borders Chicanos por la Causa in 2018. And her endorsements look like a who’s who of RINOs, she doesn’t even try to hide them.
There is supposed to be a red wave this year. But will the billionaires who have changed the meaning of RINO to include anyone but them ruin it for us?
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