There a great deal of comments on this blog and others made by mostly anonymous posters questioning the conservative/Republican credentials of our Governor, most of the Republican Legislative Caucus, and yours truly where their favorite description of us is RINO?s (Republican In Name Only) and liberal.
Two very recent examples but there are many:
Bob Ellis @ American Clarion: ?We’ll do it again, and the next time we won’t let our guard down and let you RINO pretenders (meaning me personally) take over our party again. . . . Loyalty to Republican principles and honesty about their own liberal proclivities simply isn’t in the nature of RINOs. After all, you’d be completely out of power if most people knew your true colors.?
Bob Ellis @ Dakota War College: ?Troy & his RINO buddies. . . .Liberals are so incredibly predictable.?
What are my views? Am I really a liberal?
1. Federal Budget: I support the Ryan Plan in general with minor tweaks. However, in some ways I think it too timid as I would be more aggressive cutting the size of the federal government. I would limit direct federal expenditures to an average of 16% of the GDP (vs. 18% of advocated by most conservative Republicans).
2. Federal Taxation: I think it is too progressive. We have approximately 47% of Americans paying no federal income tax while 15% of Americans are below the poverty line. These 32% should be paying something to support the federal government. Federal tax collections above 18% of GDP are excessive. The difference of the above 16% should be used half for deficit reduction and direct grants to states to prioritize as they see fit.
3. Regulation: Federal regulation is excessive and has been for generations. Many of the current regulations (even those that were once warranted) are obsolete, harmful to the economy and poor, and contrary to the public good.
4. I oppose Obamacare, HAFA, Cash for Clunkers, the Stimulus, Dodd-Frank and most other Obama initiatives.
5. I support Keystone, efforts to increase domestic energy production, and Free Trade.
1. I am firmly Pro-Life from conception to natural death.
2. I oppose same sex marriage.
1. I believe we have taken the separation of church and state to a level not contemplated by the Constitution.
2. I believe in a strict interpretation of the Constitution.
3. I believe in state?s rights are preeminent in our federal system. The federal government is a creation of the states and not vice versa. The created can not become greater than the creator.
4. I believe in Peace through Strength and a strong military capable of fully protecting the interests of America and her allies around the world.
5. I support a more aggressive federal border enforcement and existing laws with regard to illegal immigration.
6. I believe the first line of protection for the poor is his family, neighbor, churches, and non-profit organizations. The role of government is to supplement and leverage these efforts. And, to the extent, government is involved I prefer the services primarily delivered by the state?s and local governments.
Where do I admittedly not conform to common conservative orthodoxy?
Let me give some examples I know about based on conversations on blogs with Ellis and Nelson, among others.
1. I do not support the death penalty. My Pro-Life and religious views do not allow me to support it. I am amazed people claiming to be Christian would chastise a person’s character for a sincerely held religious belief but that is another discussion.
2. While supporting Arizona?s efforts to deal with their illegal immigration problem, I do not support a similar effort in South Dakota because we do not have that problem. Without the problem, the ?cure? becomes worse than the disease. I also opposed the recent measures which criminalized what I deem charitable and human rights actions by individuals to people made in the image of God.
Paraphrasing Sir Thomas More, ?I am my party?s and country?s good and faithful servant but I am God?s first.?
I welcome others to point out other places I deviate with GOP orthodoxy. Just please don?t focus on the minor. But if you do, please justify why they transcend the other issues I point out above.
Despite the preponderance of my views being firmly consistent with current conservative and Republican orthodoxy (85% on the above issues), I am still deemed a liberal, RINO, and other such descriptions. And, the above are significant defining issues vs. the following which are referenced as defining in a certain anonymous scorecard and account for 45% of the rating (and while I agree with all but one and need more information to assess two of the ?preferred choices? of this group, these don?t fundamentally define Republicanism):
1. Midwifery (referenced twice. Seriously?)
2. Excusing kids from school (So much for supporting local control)
3. History Standards (local control?)
4. Vehicle Registration fees going up a few bucks to fund roads & bridges
5. Grandparents rights vs. parental rights
6. Joint custody rights
7. Hunting coyotes from snowmobiles (while I support it, the sportsman in me is queasy)
8. National Guard College Tuition Service Incentive (A good Republican for a strong National Guard could legitimately believe spending the money elsewhere for the Guard)
I point this all out because the same people who call me a liberal are saying:
1. Governor Daugaard is not conservative enough. There are now hints he may have primary opposition.
2. Steve Hickey, Charlie Hoffman, Lee Schoenbeck, Val Rausch, David Lust, and many other Republicans are RINO?s or worse in this groups eyes.
Politics, governing, and basically living in society is an exercise in finding common ground, respecting your neighbor/colleague, sometimes agreeing to disagree, and being as open to other views as you want those you disagree with to be open to your views.
1. The Republican Platform is not perfect with regard to public policy. Only God is perfect.
2. The Republican Platform is open to interpretation with regard to its meaning and what planks take precedent over others when there is a conflict. For instance, does the plank on education require one to support the sales tax increase or does the lower tax plank prevail? Might some Republicans of good will disagree? Might Republican voters in different districts have different priorities?
3. Roughly 45% of South Dakotans are willing to align themselves with the GOP and this includes all those some call RINO?s like myself.
4. In some districts, the transcendent issues may not be GOP orthodoxy and those aspiring to be elected have an obligation to represent those views before an agenda set by people outside their district.
If anyone agrees with me 100% of the time, I will question their ability to think for themselves. And, anyone who expects me to agree with anybody 100% can jump in a lake.
While nobody doubts there are differences with our Democrat/liberal neighbors, Republicans will also disagree. Heck, you should be around when Schoenbeck and I disagree. 🙂
And, this is a good thing. The last person who was perfect was an itinerant preacher born 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem. The rest of us should be humble enough to admit we might be wrong.
In June, we as a GOP have the following:
1. State Senate: 10 primaries
2. State House: 15 primaries
This is a good thing too. Debating issues even within the GOP family is healthy. After the election, the Republican primary voter will have spoken with regard to their views of who they want to represent them in Pierre.
And, whether I agree with their decision or not, the nominees we present to the voter in November are not RINO?s. They are REPUBLICANS chosen by the Republicans of that district to be the Republican candidate to be presented in the general election. To denigrate them as RINO’s is an insult to the REPUBLICAN voters of that district.
Finally, each of those Republicans elected have a higher obligation to the voters of their district.
Of the 35 legislative districts, there is only roughly a dozen districts in which the Republican voter registration advantage is more than 10% greater than Democrats. The other roughly 25 districts are in either Democrat plurality districts or marginal GOP plurality districts. Only 9 districts have sufficient Republicans to get elected without Democrat/Independent support.
If Governor Daugaard, Lee Schoenbeck and I are RINO?s, the party is too narrow to be a majority party. More importantly, I am proud to be associated with the party led by Governor Dennis Daugaard.