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Republican In Name Only

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A RINO in its natural state, depressed due to party abandonment. Having been hunted to near extinction in the 1980s and 1990s, conservation efforts have entirely failed to focus on this particular subspecies.
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U.S. Politics
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Persons of interest
For the Democrat equivalent, see DINO.
Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.
—President Reagan's "Eleventh Commandment".Wikipedia

RINO is an acronym meaning "Republican in Name Only". It used to refer to big tent Republicans who are more concerned about increasing membership than standing by an increasingly reactionary party platform, and to a few speakers it still does. Since Trump's election, however, the measure of who is and isn't a RINO is no longer about how conservative a Republican is, but how much they kiss Trump's ass. Time and time again, staunch ultraconservatives have found themselves demonized by the Trump and QAnon nuts as treasonous communists simply for disagreeing with the (thankfully) former president. Wingnut sites like Free Republic frequently call for 'purges' in the party of all RINOs. To this end, they often back far-right challengers in primary elections, which in turn has played a critical role in radicalizing the GOP towards something that eerily resembles Fascism.

Taking it to the next level[edit]

The white-power nerds pushing Neoreaction, Gamergate, and Trump 2016 spam don't like the term RINO and prefer "cuckservative," a term that's a mix of "cuckold" and "conservative". Cuck is also a porn term that refers to a guy who gets off on watching his wife take it from another man and has recently been applied as a racial slur referring to whites who are not racist, similar to "race traitor".[1][2]

Republicans accused of being RINOs[edit]

You can see it in our House of Representatives where ideological purity is valued over the ability to make a deal or achieve a practical outcome, where any malevolent act is justified in a Salafist manner... In this, those that wield the RINO moniker so lightly are more akin to the “Communist behind every tree” John Birchers than they are Reagan or Eisenhower or Nixon who now sit like empty idols in the history of their Party.
—James B. Barnes[3]
  • Media mogul Roger Ailes: You almost have to feel bad for him; a patsy who regularly took heat for the Murdoch clan. The guy single-handedly saved the GOP and built the most significant propaganda organ in the history of man, and the far-right blasted him for being insufficiently pro-Trump/Cruz.[4][5][6]
  • Former Tennessee Gov. and Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander: Despite toeing the party line on most issues (in particular "school choice"), Alexander is still deemed a RINO (for which he fought off a Tea Party primary challenge in 2014) due to his willingness, even eagerness, to be bipartisan, something he credits to his legislative mentor, former Tennessee Senator, Senate Majority Leader, and RINO Howard Baker. For example, following the Republicans' disastrously failed attempt at repealing the ACA, Alexander introduced a bipartisan bill with Democratic Senator Patty Murray to stabilize the law, rather than scrapping it. Of course, with the ever-increasingly extreme GOP in unitary control of Government, such a proposal proved dead on arrival.
  • Conservative pundit Glenn Beck: Reassured his listeners that Latinos are "natural" conservatives, which came back to bite him in the ass. Has since become independent after realizing the GOP pussied out didn't do enough against Obama.
  • Former House Speaker and Ohio Congressman John Boehner: Cold-blooded example. As wingnut as they come, he was the last obstacle to majority control of the GOP by the Tea Party, so of course, he had to go.
  • Former president George W. Bush: Far too soft on the Mideast for Liz Cheney's tastes.[7] Medicare Part D, pro-gun control and amnesty would be non-starters for today's GOP.
  • Former Florida Gov. and 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush: Those glasses make you want to give him a swirlie.[8]
  • Former Virginia congressman Eric Cantor: Hard to justify this one. He blew $168K at steak houses![9] How red-blooded can you get?
  • Senator Shelley Moore Capito: Claims that she's pro-choice in West Virginia, a state where three of its so-called Democrats in Congress (Manchin and Rahall, and ex-Congressman Mollohan) are anti-abortion, although her ratings from pro-choice groups in recent years say otherwise. She successfully ran for the Senate in 2014, which attracted the ire of the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, and Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund, all accusing her of being a big-spending liberal beholden to pork and "big labor."[10] Her actual voting record is pretty much in line with the Republican establishment.
  • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: Reviled by conservatives for praising Barack Obama's relief effort in his state of New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy hit, as opposed to standing idly by and impeding disaster relief.[11]
  • Maine Senator Susan Collins: She shares a lot in common with her former colleague Olympia Snowe in their voting record — pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, etc. She's slightly more conservative, having voted for the Bush tax cuts and voted for stripping the right of habeas corpus from prisoners held on charges of terrorism by the US government.[note 1] She and Snowe, who were together often called the "sisters of Maine," were frequently the votes needed by Democrats to break filibusters and pass meaningful legislation. National conservatives hated them, yet if they were to nominate more conservative candidates in Maine, they'd likely wind up with a more liberal Democrat senator. However, that all changed in 2017. Collins has acquired a tendency to only actually take a reasoned stand on an important issue when her vote is essentially irrelevant, as in her opposition to Trump's attempt to repeal the ACA, or the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education[note 2]; when her vote does matter, as in the Kavanaugh confirmation, she gutlessly went along with her party, and now votes along with her party nearly 90% of the time.[note 3] Because of this, her popularity has dropped significantly — before 2017, she was the second most popular senator (behind only Bernie) in the country; and since the Kavanaugh confirmation,[note 4] she is the second least popular, behind only the widely-reviled Mitch McConnell.[12] Despite this, she still won a comfortable victory over Democrat Sara Gideon in 2020, even as Biden carried Maine by 9 points. This was attributed to her (mostly bullshit) reputation as a bipartisan dealmaker willing to cross the aisle, which resonated with moderate Democrats.[13]
  • Texas Senator Ted Cruz: Previously accused of being a RINO by Bob Dole (for being too much of a wingnut, if you can believe that),[14] Cruz has faced recent criticism for agreeing to work with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on an anti-lobbying bill.[15]
  • Former Kansas Senator Bob Dole: Poor Bob Dole. Wheeled himself to the Capitol to push protection for the disabled, only to have Republicans take a shit on his chest.[16]
  • Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake: Wrote the now-dead immigration reform bill with Marco Rubio, McCain, and Graham. Advocate FairTax all you want,[17] but speak out against Trump, and it doesn't matter. Fawned over by Democrats for his endorsement of Biden.
  • Former House Speaker and Georgia congressman Newt Gingrich: Ah, Newt Gingrich. Once considered a hard-line conservative, now tarred and feathered by the Tea Partiers, without his having changed a single position. Granted, he endorsed 15 years of Republican healthcare policy, including the personal mandate — most of which originated from the far-right Heritage Foundation which now backs Ted Cruz. For conservatives from Bob Dole to Jim DeMint to Mitt Romney and many more, the individual mandate was all about personal responsibility, by not forcing others to pay for your healthcare. But then Obama adopted it along with the rest of the Republican healthcare platform, and instantly it became Doubleplus Hitler Ungood.
  • South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham: Socially, Graham is pretty nutty, but he has come in handy as an ally to Democrats on issues like torture, immigration, and global warming. While he's despised by base conservatives, many Fox hosts seem to think he's hot stuff.
  • Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee: Even Mike couldn’t impress them with his “Marching the Israelis to the ovens” rhetoric, and they have cleverly taken to calling him “Cuckabee”. Had Winthrop Paul Rockefeller as lieutenant governor. Compared the "RINO" epitaph to the Hitler oath.[18]
  • Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman: Has acknowledged the existence of evolution and global warming, took some moderately pro-immigration stances as the governor of Utah, fully supports same-sex marriage, and was willing to work as the ambassador to China under President Obama.
  • Former Ohio governor John Kasich: Called a RINO after proposing that Ohio take government money to expand Medicaid. Had a long history of being a bonafide RINO (or as his friends put it more politely, a "Gingrich Republican") while in Congress. There is no longer a place in the Republican party for politicians like Kasich. If he criticizes a fellow Republican or the party platform, he is traitorous. A Republican his whole life, he'll be booted from the party. The time for "tolerance" is over. Endorsed Biden in 2020.
  • Former Arizona senator John McCain: Believe it or not, McCain used to be one of the more moderate Republicans in the Senate, to the point where Fox News labeled him as a Democrat a few times. His 2008 presidential run forced him to sell his soul to pander, though. For a long time, he was against supply-side, but has since reversed that position. Wingnuts were also upset regarding his positions on torture, immigration, and gun control. Still, he was far more conservative on domestic and foreign issues than he was liberal.
  • Texas congressman Mike McCaul: Opposed Donald Trump's (see him below) plans to build a wall on the Mexican border, earning him the nickname "No Wall McCaul" among Secure the border types; has also supported raising the debt ceiling and expanding healthcare.
  • Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski: Pro-choice, has earmarked money to her state, and became the third sitting Republican senator to support gay marriage. Has personal enmity with Sarah Palin (above). Notable for getting successfully primaried in 2010 by a Tea Partier and still beating him in the general election by running as an independent write-in candidate.
  • Former Illinois Senator Mark Kirk: The second sitting Republican senator to support gay marriage. He also sided with Democrats on issues like abortion and gun control. He ended up blurting out a racist remark against his democratic opponent in the 2016 debate… and was thrown out by Illinoisan voters.
  • Political activist Grover Norquist: Far more ferocious about cutting taxes and reducing government spending in general than the typical Republican. Fingered as an enemy "agent" by walking germ Glenn Beck,[19] presumably just to drag him onto the show.
  • Former New York Governor George Pataki: “I’m not one of those laissez-faire types.”
  • Kentucky Senator Rand Paul: He's said a bunch of times that he doesn't want to legalize drugs and isn't libertarian. Libertarians just don't want to listen to what he says. (Of course, many prominent libertarians love Trump without listening to what he actually says, either; calling him the anti-establishment candidate just because he appeared on an InfoWars exclusive interview and lacks all relevant political experience.[20]) The thing that sets Rand apart might be a less hostile approach to foreign policy, we guess. But he is starting to merge with the mainstream because of fears that he might be too soft on terrorism, and he really resents his rivals calling him an "isolationist".
  • Former Texas congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul: Acknowledging flaws in the criminal justice system?! What leftist propaganda is this?![21]
  • Former Vice President and Indiana Governor Mike Pence: Hardcore evangelical who hates The Gays and Mulan,Wikipedia supports creationism and abstinence-only sex ed, and doesn't think smoking kills. Despite being about as hard-right as they come, Pence instantly became reviled by the Republican base when he didn't help his boss overturn his defeat in the 2020 election. As a result, throngs of heavily armed Trump supporters descended on the Capitol and called for him to be hanged, even going as far as to erect a gallows on the Capitol grounds. As the building was stormed, Pence was evacuated, though had the evacuation taken place just seconds later, the mob could have gotten their hands on him.
  • Former Ohio Senator Rob Portman: The first sitting Republican Senator to support same-sex marriage, supporting it after his son came out of the closet.
  • Colin "Dicking Bimbos" "Idiot Cheney" Clinton Mafia"[22] Powell: Behind closed doors, he was slow to support the Iraq invasion. (Real soldiers are less gung-ho about such things.) On top of that, shortly before he resigned, he said neo-conservatives were "fucking crazies" to a British politician. Well-known for his willingness to support liberal or centrist causes. He is pro-choice regarding abortion and in favor of "reasonable" gun control. In his autobiography, he stated that he supports affirmative action that levels the playing field, without giving a leg up to undeserving persons because of racial issues. In late May 2012, he expressed support for the legalization of same-sex marriage. He had earlier supported the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. He also supports the Black Lives Matter movement.[23]
  • Chief Justice John Roberts: Finalized Obamacare.
  • Former Massachusetts Governor and current Utah Senator Mitt Romney: Effete New Englander. Says "varmints" without irony. Anyone who thinks every person in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts deserves at least basic medical care provision merits suspicion. Since 2008, he has made a radical shift to the right, wanting to destroy the entire Affordable Care Act (which was modeled after his own "Romneycare") and having complete flops on issues like abortion and gay rights. But that still wasn't enough for the my-way-or-the-highway wing of the Republican Party. Since 2016, he has become one of the few Republicans to pretty consistently stand against Trump[24], and appears to be positioning himself as the standard-bearer for some sort of return to pre-Trump "reasonable" Republicans. This, of course, has led to Romney becoming one of many favorite targets for the president's ire via Twitter.[25] Voted to convict Trump in his first impeachment, earning him the ire of many Republicans, with Don Jr. calling for him to be expelled from the party.
  • Former Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan: Democracy! It burns![26]
  • Pundit Joe Scarborough: Even interacting with those damn liberal commies is betrayal![27]
  • Former Maine Senator Olympia Snowe: She held many socially liberal views, like being pro-choice, supporting stem cell research, and being moderately pro-gay rights, which is expected since she is from Maine. She frequently voted for increased environmental protection and gun control. She was more in line with the Republican party in regards to defense and economics issues, however. Although she voted for TARP (which a lot of Republicans did) and the stimulus (she was one of three), and being in negotiations to consider supporting Obama's health care law. She supported America's involvement in Bosnia during the Bill Clinton administration and supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She also endorsed tax cuts as a means to stimulate the economy, yet voted against the Bush tax cuts. She retired in 2012 because she felt the Senate had become corrupted by "dysfunction and political polarization".[28]
  • Former Pennsylvania Senator "Snarlin" Benedict Arlen Specter "the Defector": Warned Dubya not to nominate judges who might overturn Roe v. Wade, reduced tax cuts, and supported Democrats on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. In a desperate attempt to save his Senate career from primary challenger Pat Toomey in 2010, Specter switched parties, but ironically ended up losing in the Democrat primary due to his tendency of being a DINO after the switch.
  • Former Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. Is pro-choice, supports the ACA, renewable energy sources, is against LGBTQ+ conversion therapy, and supports transgender rights.
  • Phil Scott, incumbent governor of Vermont. Pro-choice, supports same-sex marriage and transgender rights, is pro-gun control, supports liberal immigration policies and pro-environment policies, and is moderately liberal in healthcare issues. Considering he is from Vermont of all states, he needs to go far to the left of his party to win in one of the most Democratic states.
  • Former Washington Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler. It doesn't matter if you're vehemently pro-life. Go a bit against The Orange Man and you've committed heresy. Voted for the January 6 commission and to impeach Trump after January 6. She lost renomination to a MAGA election denier, who was defeated in the general by Democrat Marie Perez... in a Trump +4 district... in what was supposed to be a red wave.
  • Former Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger. Since January 6, Kinzinger became one of the most anti-Trump Republicans in the House. On top of that, he voted for key Biden policies such as the Infrastructure Act, leading him to be one of the most liberal Republican representatives.
  • Donald Trump: In the 2016 presidential primary race, his opponent Ted Cruz and his financial backers sponsored a series of ads claiming that Trump is not a true conservative, and pointing out that in his past, Trump has been pro-choice, favored gun control, favored universal health care, and gave political contributions to Democrats.[29] Ironically, since Trump's election, whether or not a Republican is considered a RINO is now defined by how pro-Trump they are.

See also[edit]


  1. Erick Erickson, "'Cuckservative' is a racial slur and an attack on evangelical Christians".
  2. Chauncey DeVega, "The secret history of “cuckservative”: The fetish that became a right-wing rallying cry", Salon.
  3. Barnes, "I'm Looking For a Few Good Republicans", Thought Catalog.
  4. Sophia Tesfaye, "Rupert Murdoch’s Donald Trump Nightmare: He Can’t Control the Monster Fox News Created", Salon.
  5. Michael Van de Gailen, "Corporatism For the Win - Mark Levin Blasts Fox News for Attacking Ted Cruz", PJM (His people wasted no time backing Don's "Mexicans are rapists" comment...)
  6. Alan Yuhas, "'Cuckservative': the internet's latest Republican insult hits where it hurts", The Guardian. (...but were paralyzed, for instance, over the thorny question of whether or not all women are fat, menstruating pigs.)
  7. Michael Abramowitz, "Tough Words From This Cheney on U.S. Mideast Policy", Washington Post.
  8. Matt Taibbi, "So Jeb Bush might be running for president, world laughs", Rolling Stone.
  9. Eric Cantor expendatures, 2012-14, Open Secret.
  10. GOP split resurfaces after Shelley Moore Capito announcement, Politico
  11. Chris Christie drops bomb on GOP leaders, CNN
  12. Mitch McConnell Is The Only Senator More Unpopular Than Susan Collins on FiveThirtyEight
  13. "She knows Maine": How Susan Collins defied Democrats on AP
  14. Bob Dole: Ted Cruz is 'a RINO', Washington Examiner
  15. Ted Cruz praises AOC on banning lawmakers from becoming lobbyists: 'I AGREE' with her!, Fox News
  16. Lawrence Downs, "From Republicans, a Parting Slap at Bob Dole", [New York Times].
  18. Huckabee: "Can we please retire the term RINO?" Levin: Censorship is a liberal tactic ipso facto you sir, are a RINO.
  19. Eric Ritz, "Glenn Beck and Grover Norquist Finally Meet for On-Air Battle Over Alleged Ties to Radical Islamists: ‘Not True’", The Blaze.
  20. Adan Salazar (March 18, 2016). "Prominent Libertarians Launch Movement Backing Donald Trump".
  22. Hellman, Jessie, "Colin Powell called Dick Cheney an idiot in leaked emails", The Hill (9/14/16 at 03:05 pm). This guy’s a straight shooter with upper management written all over him.
  23. Colin Powell on Meet the Press
  24. Mitt Romney, once standard-bearer of party, is now the lone GOP voice willing to stand up to Trump, CNN
  25. President Donald Trump calls Mitt Romney a loser — again, DeseretNews
  26. Eric Boehlert, "The Right Turns on Paul Ryan: Yesterday's Conservative Savior Is Today's Moderate Wimp", Media Matters.
  28. Why I'm leaving the Senate by Olympia Snowe
  29. Compilation of ads attacking Trump from the Cruz campaign.


  1. Yes, this is American moral bankruptcy conservatism for you.
  2. Collins voted against DeVos, but this made it a 50-50 split, which Vice President Mike Pence would obviously — and did — break in favor of DeVos.
  3. She votes Trump's way roughly 70% of the time. This apparently shows that the party doesn't always vote his way...
  4. Which unsurprisingly has enormously boosted her popularity among Republican die-hards.