Tea Party Republicans are the Real RINOs?

Mainstream Republican Thad Cochran edged out a win against Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel in a Mississippi runoff election on Tuesday—by mobilizing thousands of Democratic voters. Wait, what? Yes, Cochran asked Democratic voters to vote in a Republican primary so they could keep the Tea Party out of power. After the loss, McDaniel commented on the dirty tactic:

There is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary decided by liberal Democrats. I guess they can take some consolation that they did something tonight, for once again compromising, for once again reaching across the aisle, for abandoning the conservative movement.

Erick Erickson (the present-day political commentator, not the 11th century viking) wrote an article recently in his (public) diary about his thoughts on the current state of the Republican Party and the Tea Party. His thoughts were sparked by Cochran’s small-margin victory in Mississippi:

In essence, tea party activists are the RINOs. A Republican Party campaigning on making the Senate “conservative,” used liberal Democrats to preserve an incumbent Republican and defeat a conservative. The actual conservatives are the outsiders with the GOP establishment doing all it could to preserve its power at the expense of its principles.


The problem for those who call themselves Republicans is that it is harder and harder to say exactly what a Republican is these days. The great lesson from Mississippi is that Republican means, more or less, that if elected the party will reward its major donors, who are just different than the Democrats’ major donors. Policy differences are about different donors, not an actual agenda to shift the country in a different direction.

Those are hard words. But true. Erickson continues that he doesn’t think a third party will solve the problem. Yet the Republican Party he just described has had its “conservative” identity irreparably fractured. So, I fail to see what Erickson thinks the solution is.

If the Tea Party activists are the real RINOs, because the name “Republican” has changed so much that it won’t allow conservatives to exist within it, what are we to do but come up with a third party for true conservatives. And while we’re at it, for true republicans. Like so many words in the civil government’s soup of doublespeak, Republican doesn’t mean what it once did. Neither does Democrat. Do we fight on principle to save those words? How long did it take happy people to stop saying they felt gay? I don’t know.

But there are only two choices: either we don’t allow the term Republican to be hollowed out by neocons and liberal collaborators or we start another party. By calling the Tea Party the RINOs, Erickson has already conceded the name Republican to the center aisle compromisers fighting for lobbyist kickbacks. So I guess he’s really leaving us no other alternative than option two.