Being a Republican used to mean something that you could be proud of. It used to mean that you were a champion of freedom, liberty, and personal responsibility. It used to mean taking a balanced budget approach to personal, business, and government finances. It used to mean working to get the government out of the way of the people. It used to mean enforcing the rule of law in the cause of justice, not gain.

But over the past 13 years, it has come to mean something different. It now means compromising principles to be more appealing to a press corps that hates us. It means less government (as a relative term) but not small government. It means spending a tiny bit less than your opponents’ want to spend, but making sure not to cut into any of the largesse that has driven our country towards bankruptcy because that wouldn’t be “popular” or “fair.”

I’m no longer proud of what it means to be a Republican. But I know who to blame for this change for the worse in the Party I have always loved: Karl Rove.

And I say it’s time for Rove to retire.

Karl Rove considers himself the “architect” of the modern Republican Party. He has guided many a candidate into office, including the least Republican President in history, George W. Bush. He fancies himself the Republican Kingmaker. But Karl Rove is actually nothing more than a political consultant who goes where the money is. He has never been elected to any office. He’s never had to answer to voters. And whether the candidates he associates with win or lose, he still gets a paycheck.

For some reason, many older Republican officials have aligned themselves with Rove. We call these sell-outs RINOs – Republicans In Name Only. RINOs have adopted the stance that being two steps to the right of Obama somehow represents Republican values. They fancy themselves the Republican version of Reagan Democrats, as if the swing voters in Reagan’s two Presidential elections somehow represent the heart and soul of the party now.

Message to RINOS: any candidate running against Jimmy Carter would have gotten votes from these people. They were a voting pool anomaly driven by the reality that the Democrats had put one of the worst Presidents in history into the White House as a knee-jerk reaction to Nixon.

Rove’s Chief RINO is Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner. Now, I do not envy Boehner’s position. He’s the leader of the only section of the government that the Republicans have a majority in. He has the Senate and the President aligned against him, as well as a Supreme Court that kept ObamaCare alive by calling an obvious penalty a “tax.” He rightly knows he has no allies outside of his own purview. But a person in such a position needs to be one of extraordinary strength and principle. Unfortunately, Boehner has become the RINO who rolls over to let the President scratch his wrinkly, rough belly – on tax hikes, the debt ceiling, and on the budget.

And things don’t get any better over in the Senate, where Minority Leader Mitch “Scratch My Itch Also” McConnell, has brought “go along to get along” to new heights with the recent compromise on filibuster rules.

However, Rove is not content to pull the strings of the two top Republicans. No, he wants a House and Senate filled with RINOs. Rove has publicly declared war on any official or potential candidate who actually remembers what it means to be a Republican. If you’re a true budget hawk, Rove wants you gone. If you want real government reform, you are Karl Rove’s enemy. And if the TEA Party or any other Conservative group supports you, well then Rove has painted a big ol’ bullseye on your chest.

But I say it’s time that real Republicans put a bullseye on Karl Rove’s fly-gathering rump. I say it’s time to fight for the heart of the Republican Party. And make no mistake, this is no insiders’ war. This is a war that should involve the public-at-large. Because as we fight for the future of the Republicans, we are also fighting for the future of our countrymen and our nation. We do not need dirty politics. What we need is the kind of outreach that promotes Republican principles. And that means individual freedom, fiscal soundness, and justice for all.