I’ve now had some time to consider the top Republican contenders for next year’s presidential election, and I’ve decided that nothing has changed my mind in the past few months — I still like Ted Cruz best. Based on what I perceive are the strengths and weaknesses of the various candidates, Ted Cruz comes out at the top.
Before I walk you through my thinking, please believe that I don’t mean to denigrate the other people vying for the nomination. They all have their strengths and, to a man (and woman) I can see why they have their supporters. I just think that, in the long run, Cruz has the most to offer, as well as the most carefully crafted path to victory.
In no particular order, here’s what I think of the other candidates who are still registering as blips on the radar:
Donald Trump: I totally understand the passion Trump’s followers feel for him. After decades of seeing Republicans run scared before the Leftist media, Trump doesn’t run. He doesn’t pussy foot around with political correctness and sides with Americans on deeply felt issues, especially the complete breakdown of sovereignty at the Southern border, something that exposes us to economic damage, terrorism, and the loss of our American identity. I wish the other candidates would show his fearless courage before the press. Having said that, I could not vote for Trump in a primary because too many of his economic and social views are indistinguishable from the Democrats’ views, including his support for varying types of crony fascism. I acquit him of hypocrisy. I think that he’s careless with his ideas and leads with his emotions, two things that would be disastrous in a nation’s chief executive. He’s also vindictive and hypersensitive, and we’ve had enough of that with Obama.
Carly Fiorina: The woman has balls and I love her for that. She’s incredibly quick thinking and, unlike Trump, she won’t back down. She also has a virtue Trump lacks: rather than just being reactive, she can articulate core conservative principles, which makes her an invaluable person for the conservative cause. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, while conservatives have some of the best and most articulate thinkers around, Newt Gingrich has been the only articulate, principled conservative since Reagan — and Reagan’s been gone from the political scene for almost 30 years, while poor Newt was savaged by ostensible friends and real foes alike. She’s good Veep material, though, although that may be a political dead-end for a genuine political talent.
Ben Carson: He has an incredibly compelling personal story bolstered by a strong faith and a quiet refusal to let the liberal establishment intimidate him. I worry about Carson, though, that he lacks leadership ability. He also doesn’t seem to have thought his positions through well enough to withstand sudden attacks. His instincts are correct, but it takes him a while to walk through the intellectual process to have a strong argument to support his instincts. Any Republican president should give him a big platform (Republican Good Will Ambassador?), but I just don’t see him as the Republican president. Cruz, on the other hand, has thought through everything, and is quick enough to have right answers and arguments when pressed.
Marco Rubio: Rubio is telegenic, incredibly well-informed on foreign policy, and a good speaker. I just don’t trust him after his either caving or being out-manipulated on immigration. I’d like a few more years to make sure that he’s as strong on national policy issues as he is on foreign policy issues. I think Rubio would make a spectacular vice president although, as I noted vis-a-vis Fiorina, that can certainly be the kiss of death for a future political career if he serves under an unpopular president. Ted Cruz has been more consistently conservative on the big issues. I know that people will point out instances in which he talked the talk, but caved or absented himself from the walk, but overall my sense is that he’s a good record on the things that have mattered under Obama.
Rand Paul: I don’t think Paul viable anymore, but I mention him here because he seemed to have a lot of momentum last year. Basically, he peaked too early. Also, given his petty, vindictive statements as he’s been overtaken by everyone from Trump to Cruz, I’ve got to say that I don’t think he’s ready for the big time. Maybe in a couple of elections…. Cruz, on the other hand, has worked hard to shake his reputation of being cutting and condescending. One of the things that’s come through loud and clear in 2015 is that Cruz is working hard to treat people, especially the Leftists he encounters on the campaign trail, with respect. I call that smart politics.
John Kasich: You know what my problem is with Kasich? He’s a nonentity. He makes Scott Walker look dynamic. I keep searching the murky recesses of my brain for his face, and I simply cannot summon it to mind. He risks being the Republican answer to Dukakis. People remember Ted Cruz. He makes an impression.
Bobby Jindal: I really like Jindal. He’s got smart ideas, such as his tax plan. He’s a decent speaker. He’s also got a compelling life story, one that speaks to a rising demographic in America. But there’s something missing. I can’t put my finger on what it is. Perhaps it’s just a gravitas that will only come with time. There’s a little too much of the youngster about him — something that will actually serve him well as he ages. Jindal is another one I’d love to hear from in later elections. Cruz, however, has that gravitas Jindal lacks. He reminds me of what a friend said about his son, who matured ahead of his peers: “He’s a man among boys.”
Mike Huckabee: Huckabee’s a wonderful speaker, a witty man, and a quick thinker. I simply don’t like his Southern populist politics. Behind the social conservatism lurks a kind of luke-warm Democrat tendency. That’s not something one would say of Cruz, who’s conservative to the core.
Chris Christie: Christie appealed to me when he first burst upon the national political scene. Here was a man who was willing to take on the teacher’s unions. I mean, the teacher’s unions, for Gawd’s sake!! Talk about political courage. Soon, though, Christie stopped appearing powerful and started appearing mean-spirited and vindictive. Also, he abandoned dignity when Obama appeared on the scene after Hurricane Sandy. Maybe Christie was trying to show bipartisan strength in a trying time, but he missed that mark badly, ending instead like a school girl with a giddy crush on the cool guy. And of course there are his close ties to way too many Saudis. I don’t trust the Saudis and I don’t respect them. They’re both a bad friend and a bad enemy. With Cruz, I always get the feeling that his assertiveness and, occasionally,his aggression are driven by principles, not politics. He knows how to play the political game, but he never wanders too far from what matters.
Lindsay Graham: The original RINO. I have nothing more to say, except that Cruz is most definitely not a RINO.
Ted Cruz: Here are a few other points, in addition to the ones I made above: When Cruz took a stand against Obamacare back in 2013, many conservative pundits argued that he’d shot himself in the foot for nothing. Using the Spartans’ brave stand at Thermopylae, which could have been seen as a blood defeat but, in fact, laid the groundwork for Athens’ subsequent regional ascendancy, I argued that the pundits were wrong:
Which gets me back to Ted Cruz and his buddies in the Senate. They’re not stupid. They know that this filibuster will be futile. But they know two other things as well: Filibusters grab headlines, which gives them a golden opportunity to lift the cone of silence that the mainstream media places between Republicans and voters.
Under the current media regime, Republican arguments and statements get to the voters only if small fry Republicans get arrested, or say something “provocative” about gay marriage or abortion. Other than that, most voters would be hard pressed to know what conservatives politicians and thinkers are saying.
Imagine someone as intelligent and articulate as Ted Cruz – a man who has a knack for clearly stating complex principles – speaking directly to the voters about Obamacare, without the media acting as his “interpretor.” And remember, if he does filibuster, he’ll be speaking to voters who, for the most part, are already beginning to realize that, with Obamacare, they’ve been sold a bill of goods.
Absent a miracle, Cruz will lose on the filibuster. The Republican establishment will start bleating out “I told you so” on every “news” show they can find. And Obamacare will go forward.
But here’s what Cruz also knows: Obamacare will be a disaster. We know that for certain. Indeed, the best evidence you need is Congress’s frantic effort to ward off Obamacare in its own marbled halls. If that’s not enough, look at the diminution in choice, the price increases for the middle class, the lost jobs, the lost insurance coverage, and the downward adjustments in working hours. We, the people, are going to be badly hurt by Obamacare.
Americans aren’t going to learn about the nasty stuff hiding in Obamacare until they experience it first hand. What was an abstract political fight in Washington, D.C. will become a genuine problem in their day-to-day lives. And that’s when Ted Cruz will pop back up again and say (nicely, of course), “Remember me? I tried to warn you and I tried to help. Trust me to have the courage and the wisdom to fix this. But this time, you have to stand with me to win the battle.”
The filibuster is Cruz’s Thermopylae. He knows that, whether he wins or loses, in the long term he will be the victor. When it all falls apart, Ted Cruz will be seen and remembered for coming down on the side of sanity and freedom.
Obamacare, of course, is proving to be as bad as predicted. People have lost insurance and beloved doctors, rates have skyrocketed, and exchanges are collapse like straw houses. Things are so bad that Obama appears to be putting off indefinitely phase II of Obamacare, which will attack employees, rather than the self-employed. Cruz was right and, like the Spartans, he made a stand from the first instance, disregarding the cowards falling on their knees before Obama.
Cruz is showing the same savvy in his approach to his campaign. If I read George Will’s analysis correctly, Cruz has looked at the American political scene and concluded that the country’s reliable voters are riven neatly in half, with one half inevitably voting Democrat and the other half reliably voting Republican. The combination of changing state demographics and the Electoral College means that, even as Independents seem to grow in number, they fail to swing elections. In the face of this Electoral College stalement, Obama won by cultivating blacks, who rarely vote. Cruz, faced with the same stalemate, is cultivating a different demographic, one that’s gone silent since the heady days of the 1980s Moral Majority that supported Reagan so strongly:
Non-voting whites, especially those without college experience, are among Cruz’s principal targets. His geniality toward Donald Trump reflects the Cruz campaign’s estimate that perhaps one-third of the Trumpkins have not voted in recent elections. If so, Trump is doing downfield blocking for Cruz, beginning the expansion of the 2016 electorate by energizing people whose alienation from politics has made them non-voters.
Cruz aims to leaven the electorate with people who, disappointed by economic stagnation and discouraging cultural trends for which Republican nominees seemed to have no answers, have been dormant during recent cycles.
It’s a strategy that makes sense to me, if only because it keeps Cruz out of the circular firing squad that invariably sees Republicans destroying each other, with the last person standing so bloodied and battered that voters turn away in disgust. Town by town, person by person, Cruz is telling people that he will be their president — a true people’s president.
I’ve also noted that, when he recently appeared on Colbert’s new gig on Late Night, Cruz in genial tones made a point that resonated with the hard Left audience that had booed him only minutes before:
While the media loved the fact that the audience booed Cruz, with every outlet seeming to hone in on that fact, few media outlets reported what happened a minute or two later. After Cruz got the chance to state his principles regarding the gay marriage question, he got a sturdy round of applause from that same audience (starting at 2:58):
Cruz: People are fed up. What they want is jobs and economic growth. And, you know, you mentioned before, you know, you said “Cruz, you’re a very conservative guy.” Listen, what I am fighting for are simple principles: Live within our means; stop bankrupting our kids and grand kids, follow the Constitution.
Colbert: And no gay marriage. And no gay marriage. [Scattered cheers.]
Cruz: Well, no actually. Let’s be precise. Under the Constitution, marriage is a question for the states. If you want to change the marriage law —
Colbert: It doesn’t mention marriage in the Constitution.
Cruz: We have had a country for over 200 years —
[Audience interrupts to cheer Colbert.]
Colbert: You may be right, you may be right but it doesn’t mention marriage in the Constitution. You believe that marriage —
Cruz: And that’s exactly why it’s a question for the states because the 10th Amendment says, if it doesn’t mention, it’s a question for the states. That’s in the Bill of Rights. Everything that is not mentioned is left to the states. So if you want to change the marriage laws —
Colbert: I’m asking what you want.
Cruz: I believe in democracy. I believe in democracy and I don’t think we should. . . . [Cut off by booing.]
Colbert: No, no, guys, guys. However you feel, he’s my guest, so please don’t boo him.
Cruz: I don’t think we should entrust governing our society to five unelected lawyers in Washington. Why would you possibly hand over the rights of 320 million Americans to five lawyers in Washington to say “We’re going to decide the rules that govern you.” If you want to win an issue, go to the ballot box and win at the ballot box. That’s the way the Constitution was designed.
[At which point the CBS video clip you see above ended before anyone can hear the sturdy round of applause that Cruz received for his defense of constitutional government.]
Cruz is right on the money there. What he’s saying is, “Yes, I’m conservative but, even if you disagree with my principles on such things as gay marriage, you don’t need to fear my presidency. I follow the Constitution and will return power to the people, where it belongs.”
This is a very appealing, all-American message and one that Cruz is carefully and quietly making in multiple speaking venues.
I have a great deal of respect for some of the Republican candidates, and some respect for most of them. When it comes to Cruz, however, I genuinely believe he has what it takes both to win the election and to lead the country back from the abyss on which it is poised thanks to Obama’s insanely Leftist, anti-American policies.
If you already support someone, I know that nothing I’ve said will change your mind about the candidate you support, and I admire your loyalty. However, if your candidate doesn’t win the primaries and Cruz does, I urge you to support Cruz. Walk your precinct, make phone calls, and do whatever you can to help Cruz win — and I promise to do the same should your candidate prevail (although I selfishly hope mine does). This is one election that we cannot hand over again to the Democrats no matter how much it hurts us to vote for a Republican who’s not our first, second, or even third choice.
Oh, and if you’re undecided — Support Ted Cruz! (Also, think about downloading his handy-dandy app, which is a useful tool to help him assemble the all-important email lists and technological infrastructure that every serious candidate needs.)