RIPO, not RINO (EP.314)

Thinking in black and white, you are all with me or you are against me, is inherently lazy. It also smacks of a certain arrogance.
Thinking in black and white, you are all with me or you are against me, is inherently lazy.


Some Republicans are fond of labeling their fellow party members who are not sufficiently pure in thought and deed as being Republicans In Name Only, RINOs. As a Registered Unaffiliated, I can’t be a RINO, because I am not an R. I see myself as RIPO, Republican In Policy Only. 

That is the subject of today’s 10 minute episode.


Thinking in black and white, the, “You are with me on all things or you are against me in everything.” thinking is inherently lazy. It also smacks of a certain arrogance, but the point that I am focusing on today is the lazy part. 

Of the 17 candidates for the Republican nomination in 2016, 

Trump was my 18th choice. I was a Trump voter, not a Trump supporter, when he ran against Clinton. I became a bit more of a supporter as well as a voter in the 2020 election. I even published two pre-election podcasts promoting Trump’s policies as superior to Biden’s–making the usual apologies for Trump the man. 

I believe that Trump shamed himself and his party post election. He lost my support, and he was instrumental in losing the two Georgia Senate runoffs, and consequently the Senate itself. $1.9T later, this seems to matter. When I published an episode thanking Trump for his successes in his four years as our President, asking him to stay away from politics in the future and sincerely wishing him a happy life with family and friends, I got more Unsubscribe notices than in the previous 6 months. All from people with whom I have far more in common when it comes to politics and “rules for life” than not. Why? Because to them, you are either All Trump, or you are Never Trump. Pause for some obvious irony: All of these folks rail against the Cancel Culture, which they see as a nefarious tactic of the Left. 

Ronald Reagan, Republican President from 1981-1989, once said, “If you get 75% of what you want, take it.” He was famous for effectively working with Tip O’Neill, the powerful Democratic Speaker of the House. They would go round and round arguing politics, often having dinner together afterwards. Note to Joe Biden: that’s an actual example of unity. Note to the All Trumpers; this is how you get things done.

Has anyone heard of Democrats dismissing fellow Dems as DINOs? The Democrats have people ranging from Joe Manchin to Ilhan Omar; they differ greatly in key areas, but they are not out to get each other. Yes, Rep Ocasio-Cortez is working to unseat Democratic Representatives she believes are not sufficiently pure, sufficiently Progressive; the Democratic leadership is not. On the other hand, the leader of the Republicans, former President Trump, has published a list of 17 Republicans against whom he is seeking revenge; Republicans he does not want to see reelected. Would Trump rather be the leader of a losing Repubican party that is completely loyal to him, or be a contributing voice in a Repubican party incorporating his thinking and followers in a winning coalition? BTW, I can hear the critics now: “Trump did not lose. The election was stolen. In a fair election, Trump could demand complete loyalty, and win in a landslide. Trump 2024!”

I laid out in some detail the kind of person I want to see as President in a recent episode. Let’s lay out the differences I see in the policies. 

If you believe that the Republic form of government laid out in the Constitution is the right choice, vote Republican.If you believe that we should abandon the Electoral College, a fundamental part of the Republic format, then vote Democrat. In other words, if you want a national popular vote to replace the College, vote Democrat.

If you believe the New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning work on the 1619 project was correct in saying the year 1619 represents the real founding and legacy of America, vote Democrat.If you believe the view that the real founding occurred in 1776, with documents that Jefferson called, “A silver frame (Constitution), around a document of gold.” (Declaration), vote Republican. 

If you believe that we should have open borders with amnesty for all, vote Democrat.If you believe that America should have secure borders with a wide, but controlled, gate, then vote Republican.

If you support school choice, vote Republican.If you believe that increased funding for traditional public schools is the answer to the issues in K-12 education, vote Democratic.

If you believe that government should be the resource of first choice, then vote for Democrats.If you believe the individual should be the resource of first choice, vote for Republicans.

The Republic form of government is a key part of our founding documents. The Tenth Amendment’s language is simple and straightforward, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The Founders envisioned a national government of limited and enumerated powers. Going further, the Founders instituted the Electoral College, the primary purpose being to protect the smaller states from the power of the larger states. All states have two Senators, in addition to the number of Representatives as determined by population. The total equals the number of Electors. The argument is building that this underrepresents voters in large states, and overrepresents voters in the smaller states. Those who make that argument want a national popular vote. 

The 1619 Project created by Nicole Hannah-Jones, a reporter at the New York Times, is a bold effort to place slavery at the heart of the founding, success and ongoing character of the United States. In other words, America’s founding, success and character are so deeply rooted in slavery that many of its institutions have to be fundamentally torn down, and rebuilt. The counter view is that the union of the 13 original colonies would have been impossible if abolition had been insisted upon by the Northern states, the states that won the Civil War, beginning the process of correcting the evil of slavery.

The immigration issue is the easiest to understand. If you want secure borders as a prerequisite to any immigration or amnesty plan, vote for Republicans. If you want anything less than that, vote for Democrats. 

School choice is equally clear. If you align with the teachers unions and others who argue that increased K-12 funding, with the vast bulk of the funding going to traditional public schools, will correct the concerns with K-12 education, vote Democratic. If you believe that parents should make the decision for their children, and should be given a free choice amongst equally funded traditional public schools, charter schools and private schools via vouchers, vote for Republicans.

This brings us to the key question of the primacy of either personal responsibility, or government responsibility; which is the go-to? If you believe that government is the resource of first choice, then vote for Democrats. If you believe that the individual is the go-to, with government in a secondary role, then vote for Republicans. 

But it does not matter what you believe if you can’t bring others along with you. Who cares how superior or right your policies are if they never find their way into our culture and into the law? 

Today’s Key Point: If we want our politicians to be grownups and talk to and work with each other in order to get things done for us and the nation, then we the people need to set the example for them by doing exactly that ourselves.

Tell me what you believe. I and many others want to know. 

As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty. 1 Corinthians 16:14


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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

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5 Responses

  1. James C Kuhn Reply

    Excellent summation of current political issues, Will. I noticed that you correctly referred to our form of government as a Republic and not as a democracy. To me, this is a must read for everyone regardless of political persuasion.

  2. Charles Cabral Reply

    I see that you still have at least one subscriber who does not know the difference between a republic (not a monarchy) and a democracy (government determined by the people). The USA is both a republic and a representative democracy, although the most recent past president seems to have wanted to turn it into a monarchy and a dictatorship.
    I believe that you may have fallen into the same black/white trap that you decry. There seems to be a spectrum of positions among the Democrats regarding policies that ranges from Manchin to AOC regarding immigration, fiscal policy and voting rights, among other things. Yet we don’t hear one Democrat calling another a “DINO”. Why? Maybe it’s because they view others within the party as valuable in winning elections. The definition of a political party is, after all, a group of people working together to achieve political power.
    Unfortunately, a significant part of the Republican party seems to view it as a religious cult demanding total allegiance to what they view as the party line. I fear that the end result will be the end of that party as a significant part of the political process. Whether something else will take its place or we all become Democrats, as a conservative columnist recently stated, is to be determined.

    • Will Luden Reply

      As I understand our structure, we have a Republic, as defined by the 10th Amendment, the Electoral College, the way the Senate is structured, as well as by original intent, and we vote democratically, AKA, a freely exercised vote, within that structure.

  3. Thomas J. Meeks, RVA Reply

    Nicely affiliated, Will.

  4. Terry Tracy Reply

    As I see it, a rose by any other name… It is evident our founding fathers did not want too much power in the hands of politicians nor the public. Communism or Democracy, in a democracy all have a voice but, as Will has pointed out, it needs to be an informed voice. A real democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what is for dinner. In communism one man or a select few are the only voice. Yeah but which ones?

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