I am getting real tired of people saying that there are only two types of Republicans today – RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) and Conservative Republicans (where they mean Tea-Partyish Republicans).
Who has the arrogance to declare that they know how to define what a real Republican is, and that if one doesn’t toe the line on the full set of values held by the far right, one cannot be a real Republican – and especially not a conservative.
I am going to assert that, in general terms, anyone whose overall values lie to the right of “center” can claim the title of conservative, and anyone whose values put them to the left of “center” can legitimately claim to be a liberal.
And if I want to say that I am a climate change agnostic, that says NOTHING about whether I am, on balance, a liberal or a conservative. If I want to say that I favor the XL Pipeline, that says NOTHING about whether I am, on balance, a conservative or a liberal. If I am pro-choice, with or without constraints, again that says NOTHING about whether I am, on balance, a liberal or a conservative. If I am in favor of private gun ownership, that says NOTHING about whether I am, on balance, a conservative or a liberal.
That said, if we suppose that people whose OVERALL leaning is to the right of “center” are likely to be Republicans (or at least vote Republican), and people whose OVERALL leaning is to the left of “center” are likely to be Democrats (or at least vote Democrat), then we come to the simple conclusion that neither Democrats NOR Republicans are going to believe the same things about all issues. Both parties allow for a large moderate (some might say “reasonable”) group of people who have worked through issues and find the party thought-police to be repugnant.
For those who want to berate anyone in their political party who does not believe exactly as they do on all issues, I say – “GET OVER YOURSELVES! Yes, Virginia, there ARE such things as moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats, and they have just as much right to the Republican and Democrat labels as you have. In fact, the moderates probably outnumber you.”
Now – that said – if the actual Republican Party or Democratic Party leadership wants to officially define the qualifications for being a member of their party – what you can and cannot believe about every controversial topic in our culture, and perhaps say that they don’t want your vote if you differ on any one topic — then let them do that, and let’s watch what happens.
Go ahead and disinvite participation in your party and its elections if your members won’t toe the line on every controversial issue. Probably what would happen is we would, indeed, wind up with a third (or even fourth) political party – let’s call it the Moderate Party – or how about the Freedom Party – freedom to believe as we reason, and to form association with those who are not consumed by dogma – freedom to disagree with members of our own party on serious issues.
So – maybe we have this third party thing all wrong. Forming a third party out of a far right group would only serve to dilute the Republican vote, and would put the Democratic Party in control for the foreseeable future. However, if we energetically form a new party out of the “middle” – the Moderates – and could instantly pull maybe a third of voters from each of the current mainstream parties, the newly formed Moderate Party becomes a contender from the get-go. And it is not so much characterized by intolerant dogmatists as by people who know they must give a little to get a little – a pretty reasonable stance, given the variety of deeply held beliefs across our great nation.