RINOs: The Dilution & Breakdown of the Republican Brand in NH - Granite Grok

RINOs: The Dilution & Breakdown of the Republican Brand in NH

Dilution is the action of making something weaker in force, content, or value.

Have you watched a brand you love just mean less and less? The brand might have gone in a direction you just couldn’t follow, or the quality of their product just kept slipping until their reputation was gone. You are not alone. You have experienced brand dilution.

Brand dilution happens when a brand loses its value from overuse. Value is lost when a product does not meet the expectations customers have of the brand. The brand gets watered down.

This is as true in politics as in business.

Brand dilution also is when brands are made less effective and less valuable through use on “products” that don’t fit the brand.

Brand dilution ultimately leads to breakdown of the brand, with the brand becoming essentially meaningless.

But brand dilution is avoidable. It is up to “brand managers” to protect the meaning of a brand to maintain its value.

In politics, the “customer” is the voter. Political customers (voters) have preconceptions about candidates who identify themselves with a political brand, which is supposed to create brand equity and lasting value to the brand. Properly utilized, a political brand is an asset that generates future beneficial returns to the political party with a strong brand.

Brand dilution or overuse of the brand is when those preconceptions are lost or changed. Brands come with expectations, and when a candidate does not live up to those expectations, the voters’ minds adjust.

Voters can be disappointed or confused when a politician identifying with a particular party brand does not live up to a brand’s promise, and that diminishes the power of the brand in their minds. It makes the brand less meaningful. This effect multiplied over many customers is brand dilution.

Electing and re-electing Republicans in Name Only (RINOs) serves only to dilute and damage the Republican Party brand, ultimately making it meaningless.

The Big Tent Fallacy: In politics, a “big tent” or catch-all party is a type of political party that seeks to attract voters from different points of view and ideologies. This is in contrast to other parties that defend a determined ideology and seek voters who adhere to that ideology and convince people towards it.

A political party can’t build an effective big tent without the party’s being anchored to clear ideological principles. Thus, Republicans must insist on certain principles.

The political choice between ideological purity and “big tent” coalition building is inherently false. Success requires both.

Just as businesses need a long-term vision and attention to minute detail and football teams need hulking linemen and fleet-footed receivers, political majorities need moderates and ideologues.
But any businessman or football coach can tell you that success comes from the inside out. The detail men can’t make decisions without an understanding of the company’s mission, and the receivers never get their hands on the ball if the linemen don’t know their job. Similarly, a political party can’t build a big tent without it being anchored to clear ideological principles.

This goes for both Republicans and Democrats. At their best, Republicans and Democrats represent and advocate for two very different worldviews. To succeed, a party must persuade voters to reject the other party’s worldview and support its own. But this is only possible if the party actually has a worldview and it is enforced by any politician seeking to utilize the party’s brand.

For Republicans, that worldview was summed up by Ronald Reagan more than 20 years ago. We should emphasize the things that unite us and make these the only “litmus test” of what constitutes a Republican: our belief in restraining government spending, pro-growth policies, tax reduction, sound national defense, and maximum individual liberty.

This litmus test wasn’t a call to purity or extremism—­just the opposite. Reagan was endorsing the broadest and most inclusive definition of a Republican imaginable. If a Republican didn’t believe in these basic things, why would he or she call themselves a Republican anyway?

Governing requires compromise, but elevating compromise itself to a principle is like building a house on sand.

Republican politicians in particular must insist on certain principles–especially economic freedom and limited government—because every institution in the state and federal government is predisposed toward perpetual growth.

Here’s how it works: A problem arises. Liberals say we need an expensive new government program to solve it. Conservatives say no, we need to cut government to solve it. A fierce debate ensues, until a “moderate” group of lawmakers produces a “bipartisan” compromise that grows government, but not quite as much as the liberals want. The game is rigged against limited government and the free-market conservatives who fight for it. As former Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina puts it, “I never saw a bipartisan bill that reduced the size of government.”

The only way for liberty-minded conservatives to enact policies according to their broadest, most basic principles is to fight unflinchingly for them. When Republicans do not fight for their principles, they lose elections.

To win again, the GOP cannot merely present itself as a copy of the Democrats. Republicans must draw clear distinctions between whatever principles the Democrats claim to have and their own.
Fight for your principles, and you get a majority, too; fight just for the majority, and you get neither.
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The New Hampshire Republican Party loses elections because of several endemic problems: (a) open primaries, (b) a failure to call out RINOs, and (c) same day voter registration.

(a) Political parties in New Hampshire presently conduct their party primary elections on an “open” primary basis. This means that anyone can vote in any party primary, irrespective of whether they have registered as a voter belonging to that party, registered as a voter belonging to a different political party, or registered as undeclared as to a political party. The practical result is that a candidate of a particular party can be chosen to carry that party’s brand or banner into the general election by voters of opposing parties. A cynic might even think that it might be a successful political strategy for opponents of a party to get out their own voters to vote in the primary of an opposing party for the candidate notionally thought to be easiest to beat in the general election.

A political party in New Hampshire can easily “close” its primary elections by adoption of a simple rule to that effect and notifying the Secretary of State of that rule’s adoption.

Query: Why should Republican candidates be selected in primaries in which the ultimate outcome can be determined by voters who do not have the courage of their convictions to register as Republicans?

But a simple rule change to close the Republican primaries in New Hampshire has been proposed for at least the last two election cycles, but the party elites have refused even to allow the matter to be brought forward for a vote.

(b) It is not unusual in New Hampshire and elsewhere in this country to find candidates who run and get elected on the basis of claiming to be Republicans, only to witness many of their actions in office to be contrary to the principles of the party as enunciated in the platforms of the state and national party.

The Republican party does not require a loyalty oath in order to claim to be a Republican and to use the “R” identifier when campaigning and appearing on ballots. Even proposals to drum out of the party those elected officials whose votes against party principles exceed certain thresholds have gone nowhere, and such proposals would probably be difficult if not impossible to enforce. Anyone can call themselves a Republican and run under the Republican banner, no matter whether they are “real” Republicans or mere RINOs.

It is not suggested that to be a “true” Republican one must adhere to and support every single item in the party platform, for there is always room for reasonable disagreement, even within the party itself. But when bedrock principles, such as lower taxes, smaller government, and individual liberty are not supported by votes and political actions, it then becomes fair to deem that politician a Republican in Name Only, a RINO.

And when we see RINOs to the left and RINOs to the right within the Republican Party, where is the courage of the so-called leaders of the party to call out such misbehavior and ultimately to make the RINOs pay a political price in the form of (i) clearly and publicly identifying them as RINOs; (ii) withdrawal of support from the party; and (iii) actively recruiting real Republicans to run, even in primaries, against clearly identified RINOs??

(c) Finally, New Hampshire has some of the most bizarre voter laws in the nation. Especially egregious are the NH voter laws that permit registration, and changes to registered party affiliations, on the same day as an election. The supposed rationale for this state of affairs is that if we did not have same day registration, our state would come under the federal Motor Voter Law, which, the supporters of same day registration claim, would be a “disaster.”

A “disaster” in this context means simply that some government officials, elected and otherwise, might have to do some extra work.

Among those who oppose eliminating same day registration are the long serving Democrat Secretary of State, the Town Clerks and Supervisors of the Checklists who might have to do some extra work, and the Department of Motor Vehicle which also might have to do some extra work.

In states that do not allow same day registration, the voter registration rolls are “closed” a reasonable period before elections, and persons who are not properly registered to vote in advance of an election can vote only a provisional ballot that is not scanned or counted unless and until the voter can produce evidence of their proper qualification to vote within a reasonable period of time after the election concludes. This process is used by many, if not most, other states without any big problems.
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So, what are we to do to preserve the value of the Republican brand?

Real Republicans should insist on (a) closing the party primaries; (b) calling out, refusing party support for, and recruiting quality opponents to run against, RINOs whenever and wherever they appear; and (c) working to change the state laws allowing for same day voter registration.

Portions of this article have been adapted from essays first published by Chris Chocola and Colin Finkle.