Op-Ed: Stop Calling Every Republican Who Disagrees with Trump a 'RINO'


Lindsey Graham and Mike Pence are not the same as Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney.

Far too many Trump supporters lump any Republican who criticizes Trump into the same category — but it’s not quite that simple.

Like any other president — more broadly, like any other human being — Donald Trump is not perfect and has made some mistakes. I happen to think that as president, Trump’s pluses outweighed his minuses and history will ultimately be kind to him, but that doesn’t mean when he’s wrong we shouldn’t tell it like it is.

No president at least since Herbert Hoover almost 100 years ago has been vilified as intensely as Trump.

Much of what Trump has been accused of doing is false, as I exposed in my book “Trumped-Up Charges!,” and though he certainly deserves some criticism, even strong at times, the treatment Trump has received from the media, academia, Hollywood and even Wall Street on occasion has been monumentally unjust.

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Some Republicans from Day One of his presidential bid, or soon thereafter, turned their backs on Trump because they genuinely thought him to be unfit for the White House because of his lack of formal experience, his coarse persona, or both. Right or wrong, they are to be commended for their integrity — if not necessarily their judgment.

But they do not represent the Never Trumpers, such as Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney, who merely pretend that they’re offended by Trump but who actually bash him for their own self-serving purposes.

In fact, Trump played Romney like a fool in 2016 when he invited Romney to interview for the job of secretary of state, publicly exposing Romney’s legendary lack of authenticity; Romney groveled for the job even though months earlier he had delivered an address formally denouncing Trump.

As for Cheney, she resents that Trump has all but extinguished Republican establishmentarians, of which her father Dick is a prominent representative.

However, principled Republicans like Lindsey Graham and Mike Pence are not the same as Romney or Cheney. Granted, they disagree with Trump from time to time, but anyone who never does is really behaving like an 8-year-old worshipping his favorite superhero.

Pence, quite correctly, realized that the vice president’s role is not to delay the certification of an election. Those who think a vice president really has the power to do that should stop and think what might happen in 2024 if that were the case, with Vice President Kamala Harris thus being the most powerful person in the country. I wouldn’t want to live in an America like that, even if that means my candidate doesn’t always win.

As for Graham, he thought Trump wasn’t outraged enough about the Jan. 6 invaders, who, by the way, in one day undid all of the good work I and so many others tried to do to explain to Democrats and independents that the vast majority of Trump supporters are good, law-abiding, peaceful people — not radical Neanderthals who think they have the right to storm the Capitol, and whose actions have given the Democrats endless footage to use in campaign commercials.

It’s OK to say Trump is wrong about a whole bunch of things and still support him. Real life isn’t a children’s fairy tale where there is absolute right and wrong.

Some Trump supporters have shown that type of maturity at his rallies. For instance, they moaned and groaned when he encouraged them to get vaccinated, yet they cheered him overall nonetheless.

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And that’s the point: Perfection is the enemy of solutions, and the right demanding purity is no better than the left’s cancel culture, which would even tear down statues of Abraham Lincoln because he didn’t embrace the abolition of slavery as quickly as would have suited them.

Trump demands absolute loyalty. He considers almost anyone who criticizes him for any reason to be disloyal. That’s not necessarily the case.

Trump supporters need to distinguish between those who get frustrated with Trump but will continue to defend and support him — and would vote for him again in 2024 if he were the nominee — and those who either have a pathological aversion to him or are pretending to for their own selfish purposes.

It is eminently satisfying that Cheney was trounced in the Wyoming primary, and hopefully Romney will also be booted into irrelevance. But don’t blame Graham, Pence, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Bill Barr and Kellyanne Conway because they didn’t publicly support every single thing Trump ever said or did.

In fact, some of Trump’s “critics” are actually more loyal to him than those who flaunt their devotion to him but are mere bandwagon-jumpers looking to ride his coattails from obscurity to fame. Because if and when Trump’s star fades, they’ll join the Romney/Cheney bashing brigade in a nanosecond.

The world of politics is nuanced and complex; it’s not a comic strip for second-graders.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Constantinos E. (“Dino”) Scaros, JD, Ph.D., is a presidential historian, educator, attorney, newspaper editor and columnist, and political analyst. He is also the author of several books covering many contemporary issues, most recently "How to Talk Politics Without Arguing," "Trumped-Up Charges!" and "Stop Calling Them 'Immigrants.'" Follow him on his Facebook page: Listen to Dino.