On the subject of ‘RINOs’



Alisha Hilde recently penned an article for this publication that asks what it means, these days, to be a Republican.

To quote Ms. Hilde, in pertinent part: “[b]eing a Republican means your moral compass is not moved by political winds, … a responsibility to promote robust and respectful debate at the national, state, and local level … [not] jumping on political bandwagons[, … and] thinking deeply about issues and how our actions fit into the larger narrative of American history.”

She also reminded us of provisions in our platform: “smaller government, local decision-making, and responsible spending because we’re spending the public’s money.” 

This got me thinking, hopefully other readers did, too. Specifically, I started calibrating our party’s shift under President Trump’s leadership. I realize there is some risk in publishing my thoughts, but from private conversations with fellow conservatives, I’m not alone in my opinions. Therefore, I decided to publish the following and touch upon some of Ms. Hilde’s important points more bluntly. 

Name calling is a popular political trend these days, so let’s start there. A common acronym bandied about our party recently is “RINO:” Republican in Name Only. The same Republican voices most vociferously denouncing these so-called RINOs tend to be the same voices enthusiastically supporting Trump. This irony is not lost on me.

This is ironic because our party leaders are in denial about the incongruous nature, when juxtaposed with what our party supposedly stands for, of the policies and actions of our President. This starts with fiscal responsibility, a heavily prioritized tenet of our platform.

For example, despite Trump’s campaign promises that he would fix our national debt, our President is instead passing budgets with ever-growing deficits; $1 trillion in 2019 and a cumulative national debt about to eclipse $23 trillion, the highest in our nation’s history. Interestingly, Trump is on pace to at least match, but likely exceed, Obama’s contributions to this debt load.

Our debt is approaching 100% of GDP, a level not seen since World War II. At least then we had good reason to be so heavily leveraged. The nation was “all hands on deck” to defend itself against powerful enemies on two fronts. The United States lacks the financial wherewithal to defeat such an existential threat today. And, the circumstances that enabled this nation’s recovery from that debt load after the war, namely a combination of rapid and substantial GDP growth matched with government spending that was a small fraction of current levels, do not exist today.

I’m 37 years old. If we don’t act now, I will live to see, before I retire, the devastating consequences continued indebtedness will reap. The Left peers into the crystal ball and foresees climate change destroying our country and planet. But climate change science remains a largely theoretical exercise leaving us to merely postulate what role, if any, mankind can effectively have in its mitigation. On the contrary, we are informed from examples throughout world history exactly what happens to financial systems under such heavily leveraged circumstances. 

Let’s use the weight of our party to lead by example and better educate younger generations about this more imminent threat. Today’s Democrats only offer solutions based on socialism. The Libertarians, while vocal about this issue, lack numbers and access. It’s therefore our burden as Republicans to lead the middle toward a fiscally conservative solution. My generation’s hope for a prosperous future depends on it.

While the “Greatest Generation” was defined by how it fought and defended this country against Germany and Japan, my generation and the generation that follows will come to be defined by how we handled the country’s indebtedness and impending economic collapse. 

If our president truly cared about this elephant in the room, why not take a hardline stand? For example, our president has demonstrated he is willing to shut down the federal government. Why not take that step over massively important issues like fixing our broken social security system or the myriad taxpayer obligations tied to the rocketing costs of health care? These are two easy examples of massive, unfunded present and future liabilities, all of which are contributing to our indebtedness. There are many others.

Instead, the president shut down the government because the Democrats would not let him spend more billions to build a wall. Let that sink in. Having grown up in San Diego County, which sits on the front lines of illegal immigration, I can tell you from experience a wall, while symbolic, is on balance ineffective at fixing the underlying causes and problems associated with illegal immigration. 

As to Ms. Hilde’s points about respectful debate and how our actions fit into the larger narrative of American history, I ask the following: why do so many of my fellow Republicans ignore the degradation Trump has brought to our brand? We used to be the party that led by example and kept America from straying too far from its core. The list of our party’s famous presidents includes Lincoln, Coolidge, Eisenhower, and Reagan. These examples, though flawed like any other individual, were nonetheless defined by their great minds and exemplary leadership. 

By contrast, today’s party leadership is all-in on a fiscal liberal who YELLS IN CAPS-LOCK on Twitter, interferes with free markets through his trade wars, and refers to his political adversaries (and sometimes his allies) with pejorative names instead of engaging them with robust and respectful debates on policy. 

Though I voted for Gary Johnson in 2016, I accepted the election results and did my best to remain objective the last two years. I give Trump credit for the handful of positive changes his administration has thus far brought to Alaska and the United States. However, pecuniary gains do not excuse monumental setbacks.

As John Adams famously admonished: “facts are stubborn things.” The sum of the facts over the past two years of this presidency lead, under any objective metric, to one inescapable conclusion: Trump is a “RINO.” Perhaps you’re ok with that – that’s your right. Unfortunately for the rest of us, Alaska’s party leadership recently voted to cancel our presidential primary, denying us the opportunity to consider a new Republican president that better reflects our principles. 

Notwithstanding the risk, I encourage fellow Republicans to publicly add your voice to this dialogue. Since 1773 when the Sons of Liberty defiantly submerged some tea in Boston Harbor, our responsibility as Americans is to question authority. Nothing is more patriotic. If you consider yourself a patriot, such is the responsibility that comes with that privilege, regardless of the cost.

Peter J. Caltagirone is a lifelong Republican, District 28 (South Anchorage) precinct captain, and oil and gas attorney licensed in five states.


  1. Sadly, many have given up for one reason or other and gone over to the dark side. Be it money, power or just tricked us and were sackless all along, it has happened. Murkowski was a liar the whole time. It just took agendas to be revealed before we found her out. She says she used to be against abortion.

    • Yup… and got in with the help of the RNC despite the fact that the Alaskan Republicans had already spoken in the primary…

  2. The RINO’s should form their own party. They are two-faced democrats, dirty demagogues, who betray our conservative principles, at the drop of a hat. We have Lisa Murkowski, RINO 1st class, who upholds Abortion and Planned Abortion-hood. Yet sh has sworn to uphold the constitution. She has voted against the wall which will prevent illegal immigration via land from Mexico.

    The Lord has sounded the first of his seven Trumpets see Rev 8:1-2 He is sounding change throughout the whole world. The old dragon which was and left its stamp on another dragon to rule in its stead Roman Empire to Roman Church, that old dragon will again raise its head. The EU never became a military unit. Now Brexit tears it part. Its head only arose. World Government based upon the treaty of Rome is No-go.

    Donald has led the way forward.

  3. What the Esquire left out is the fact that the excess spending is a result of the last administration’s excessive social programs that the liberals and rinos refuse to address – smaller government and a sustainable budget!
    He also does not mention the stalemate of the last 3-years in congress because of the liberals and rinos who are more interested in their careers and a much stronger possession of power than in securing our borders, addressing illegal immigration, addressing the health care issue, etc. etc.!
    And Alaska seems to be in lock step with what is happening in DC! Alinski rules for radicals.

  4. Great article. Most people are fiscal conservatives, some by choice others by necessity. In government a fiscal conservative is rare, very very rare.

  5. Thank you for all the big words and poetic approach. The real issue is regaining our country’s strength. Obama sold us down the gutter. You, may never have had to clean up someone’s mess but Pres. Donald Trump is doing exactly that. We who support him are seeing, daily, how Donald Trump is cleaning up messes. I would like to have confidence in you. Within your next missive, please include the list of thousands of problems Pres. Trump is fixing.

    Until you allude to Pres. Trumps accomplishments, I consider you ineffective.

  6. Ole Pete sounds like he has a hidden (or not) agenda that kinda matches up with other known RINO’s. Notice, after trying to blame everything on President Trump, pete switches to predominantly “I”. The last three decades or so, our military has been trashed by one incompetent or another. No maintenance, upgrades or up-armoring on any equipment or new replacements. In the beginning, in Iraq, the soldiers families were buying body armor, boots and all sorts of gear for the warriors because the military either discontinued it or wouldn’t buy it. The officers corps in all branches of the military gutted and replaced with political cronies, ignorant of their jobs. The billions saved by destroying our military being given away across the globe, with apologies from American leaders, for being American. Now, in less than three years, our military, technology, employment, jobs, you name it, is better than in generations, not years or ‘terms’. All basically due to one man with little or no support, doing what must be done to save America. Donald Trump, being fought at every turn, still is making America great again. Those “billions” (five) that couldn’t be afforded for the border wall are nothing compared to what illegal immigration costs us every day. Over $200 billion this year and we’re not done yet. Maybe you should ‘face the facts’. It scares me to think of what would be happening to America if not for President Trump. It sure wouldn’t be pretty. If only the dims/socialists/liberals would invest the time, money and energy helping make America secure, safe and “with justice for all”. Instead, they do everything they can do, with nothing but insults, lies and associated misdeeds, trying to defame and frame him. America can be truly great again. It will never get the chance if the fools get their way.
    37 years old is plenty young enough to make your mark. It depends on the individual. Look at Warren Buffet. He was in his sixties when he started.

  7. This guy mentions a “handful of changes” , thats baloney !! He needs to go back and read the substantial increase in employment across the board including those in unemployed subgroups ( hardcore unemployed). The return of overseas manufacturing jobs to the US. I liken the national debt example to what we see in Alaska. Trump and Dunleavey BOTH inherited a situation of rampant spending by former administrations. You don’t just turn that around overnite, as we have plainly seen .in Ak. The opposition to Dunleavey was unprecedented when he tried to quickly implement a draconian change to the budget. But at least he hasn’t had to combat the “deep staters” Trump has had to deal with who continually invent scenarios in an attempt to undermine his residency. I don’t see us ever getting the national debt under control at this point , thatbopportunity passed a couple administrations ago- not with Trumps current administration, yes, at 35 years of age he should be worried, but in the meantime today and tomorrow’s business has to be dealt with and I believe Trump is doing a great job at that!! Regarding RINO’s – I think it’s a perfectly apt title for those like Senator Murkowski who has a history of voting more often with the Democrats on the major issues than with the republicans which she claims to be!!

    • Deep staters who he appointed and who are also in his own party. OR, maybe the guy can’t hire properly, is thin-skinned, incompetent, and corrupt (Nixon and Harding are happy to no longer carry the title of worst).

  8. Wow, just about everything wrong with the GOP encapsulated in one article. This guy is fine with losing as long as he’s principled in the process. Principled or not that still makes you a loser.

    When we went to the polls in 2016 we had a binary choice between Trump and Clinton. Peter could not stomach either so he voted for someone he knew would lose just so he could walk around tut-tutting with his nose in the air.

    Peter likes Reagan so he should be aware that “the Gipper” famously said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction”. Hillary would have been a third term for Obama and this country would have been doomed. But Peter would have had the satisfaction of knowing he held to his moral superiority while the nation collapsed in ruins.

    If the GOPer’s in District 28 have any regard for this state and this country they will ensure that Peters tenure as precinct Captain will be short-lived.

  9. Peter, Thank you for sharing your views. I respect your opinions and agree with some important points in here. I do agree that the party leadership needs to unify or compromise enough to work to solve our rapidly deteriorating budget situations.

  10. Thank you for that thoughtful article, Peter! I applaud your bravery in posting it here. From day one, Trump has used fear and division to gain support. Under his leadership, name-calling and mockery, once relegated to the elementary school playground, have become acceptable means of political discussion. It’s sad! Those who get labeled “RINOs” are merely moderate republicans. The party leadership would do well to remember that in today’s political landscape it’s often the people in the middle, the swing votes, who determine elections.

    I believe it’s also sad that so many conservatives who claim Christian ideals have been so quick to support Trump, a known philanderer and adulterer, the likes of which the presidency hasn’t seen since Bill Clinton. The justification? Gaining seats on the Supreme Court.

    • So true! Both the Christian Faith, which is now branded closer to Trump than Jesus, and the Republican Party are doing irreversible harm to themselves for today’s short-term political gains. The piper is coming for both.

    • And instead of Christians supporting a philanderer and adulterer, they should do what? Support a candidate committed to supporting and even expanding the practice of abortion? A candidate who turned their back on an attack on our embassy leaving American hero’s to die savagely, and who lied about it being due to provocation from a home made YouTube video? A candidate who took hundreds of millions in foundation and campaign donations from leaders of countries trying to manipulate their very profitable relationships with our government…. wow;(

  11. The author laments about our president’s inability to execute what he promised while campaigning for the office. I’m no apologist for this man, or any other for that matter, but I can never remember a president that has had to face such opposition in my lifetime. Our congress since day one, has not conducted the people’s business of playing their role in governing our great country, but instead focused all of their efforts in removing him from office…..from the very beginning. His opponents include all democrats, half of the republicans, all of the media, and half of a very polarized constituency. Who can prevail in this environment? Not making excuses for any failures here. Just a solid, viable question.

    • It is a solid, viable question. Any answer must be seen in the light of the fact that the President seeks and in fact causes this discord. He promised to try to unify the country, but this doesn’t seem to be in his nature. Three years of Twitter rants seem to back this up.

    • When you have that level of opposition from everyone, including half of your party, then you know that President Trump is doing something right. This is just logic. The bolsheviks (dems) and the trotskyites (elite repubs and rinos) both had their gravy trains coming to an end, hence all the opposition.

  12. I had high hopes, no pun intended, that legalizing marijuana would at least have the beneficial effect of getting the self-styled libertarians to stay home and get stoned rather than dabbling in Republican politics. Instead, they get stoned and dabble in Republican politics. Flash, genius; if you don’t support the Republican nominee and don’t support the elected Republican President you are NOT a Republican.

    Tell us how you feel about President Reagan’s accommodation to the spendthrift Democrats so he could get the military funding necessary to confront the Soviet Union after the Democrats had all but surrendered to the USSR in the post-Vietnam period. Nobody with a brain likes the debt and deficits but so long as people in the urban areas of the Country, including the urban areas of Alaska, keep electing the party of the moochers and looters to office, we will have excessive spending and it isn’t the DoD that drives the federal deficit just like it isn’t the DOT or DPS that drives the Alaska deficit.

  13. The reality is that confronting issues like the deficit and reforming social security, medicaid, etc. are second term issues. Hard to get a second term if these challenges dominate your first term. This term focused on nominating conservative judges who actually understand the Constitution (150 confirmed so far!), re-building our military, taking on China’s unfair trade practices (something every President over the last three administrations have complained about but didn’t have the cajones to address), tax and regulatory reform, and much more. Amazing accomplishments considering the lamestream media, the D’s and far too many R’s oppose him at every turn. I’ll take substance over style every time, even though, like many, I have to cringe now and then.

  14. This is a great commentary. The term “RINO” is currently used by many in referring to those who oppose our President. Conservatives like Roy Blunt have been referred to as a RINO on this site by commenters this week. Until the party of Lincoln (who would be a RINO today) can stop insulting their own moderates, who would have been considered conservative just 20 years ago, they will continue to destroy themselves now and in the future. The fold has to open up again and not just be for tea-party Libertarians who have redefined the party in a way that would not be recognizable to Dwight Eisenhower.

  15. Maybe the author has some time on his hands since the RINO Flagship publication, The Weekly Standard and its founder Billy Boy Kristol took a long-overdue death bath. Nothing to do at home but think. OMG, will we ever survive? I might get you Mitt the Wonder Boy Romney’s number for you. I am assuming you have Lisa’s M number on speed dial. I used to consider Bill Kristol a conservative with a few faults and subscribed to the paper anyway but thank God we only see him now on MSNBC, CNN, and other new media losers. As for our debt to GNP figures, we inherited Obama” double the debt in 8 years” policies head-on. It took eight long years to screw up the economy and Trump will eventfully fix it. Tell me, are all liberals short-term memories as bad as yours? So all you “come to the economic party lately” squad like you and Dermit Cole who were as silent as crickets during the Obama reign of econmic terror can politely GO TO HELL. Maybe if some of your new friends at the DNC would stand down, Trump could get more accomplished but that ain’t going to happen because you CAN’T USE FACTS WITH LIBERALS. Go home to the Deranged Democratic Party.

    • Mike I totally agree with everything you just posted especially about our democratic senator from Alaska Lisa Murkowski

  16. Gary Johnson? Are you kidding me.?The author of this essay needs to get in touch with reality. Donald Trump is a down and dirty street fighter. He’s exactly what this country needed at the time…..someone who would stand up to political correctness and fight the Democrats head on with their ambitious agenda to restructure and reorient American culture. Transformational politics has been tempered with Trump in the White House. You don’t have to like Trump personally to back the Republican Party and its titular head. But the alternatives will devistate the fabric that has been woven for 250 years. And Libertarians do not answer the call for self preservation. Their path in it’s totality will will result in a chaotic brew of greed and improvidence.

  17. I will take a down and dirty street fighter like Donald Trump any day of the week over pretty boys who can spell “pecuniary gains.”

    Thank you Mayor Dan and others who appreciate and articulate what is gritty and substantive — I continue to be mystified by people who won’t give credit to our President for delivering on campaign promises and only focus on style or petty delivery of the message.
    My money says the author would drink expensive champagne to see any Democrat beat Trump in 2020.

  18. This author is another out of touch wannabee, positioning himself with the Republican Party and bragging with bloated five states bar licenses to gain traction to elected office. We already have enough of these vanilla lawyer types to sink the ship of state. I roll with the street fighters and former combat vets who can take some chops and deliver meaningful blows against the enemy. The pretty boys with their fancy pedigrees are good cannon fodder for guys like Trump, Dunleavy, and Laddy.

    • From the above comments, it looks like the women at MRAK prefer men with the real goods over the pretenders with hair gel and blow dryers.

  19. The comments to this piece are baffling and saddening. It’s like being stuck in a room with bunch of screaming toddlers. The “would you have preferred Clinton?” is a tired canard. Loose it! It’s intellectually dishonest. Trump is the president and criticism of his polices or the direction he seems to be taking the Republican Party isn’t going to change that fact. Politicians make promises all the time; they campaign on issue that are important to their constituents and they think will get them elected. And then they forget or circumstances change but they need to be held accountable. They need to explain the why.
    Call me what you will, I don’t much care. I support the authors criticism of the direction and focus of the Republican Party. Criticism can be hard to take but it’s necessary for growth and maturity.

    • Excuse me, I remember clearly when I cast my vote, there were two names on the ballot who had a prayer of winning, and one was Clinton…. so, the choice could hardly have been made any clearer…. trump with his warts (including his all caps tweets) or Clinton and hers (including cheating in the debates, running a phony foundation to avoid taxation and funnel money into her and bill and chelseys pockets, abandoning our ambassador and staff in Benghazi, and destroying evidence under subpoena to name a few). Tired canard? Hardly!

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