“I’m mad as hell and I’m… going to do something different this time.” That’s the basic rationale for why so many of us are looking at the Republican nomination process so much differently for 2016. We’ve tried the Republican Establishment’s attempt to run the party and it gave us humiliating defeats for the White House in four of the last six elections. One could even argue that George W. Bush only won because he faced weak Democratic candidates.
The Republican Establishment that gave us Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney does not know how to win Presidential elections. The same Republican Establishment that gave us Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and now Paul Ryan does not know how to enact real change despite having double-majorities in Congress. The Republican Establishment is who we are fighting. They’re the reason that Donald Trump and Ben Carson are leading in the polls.
I really like Trump and Carson. Either would have been my candidate of choice ahead of anyone who ran in 2008 and 2012. Unfortunately, the year that we decided to wake up and say that enough is enough is the year that we have Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, and other conservatives who would also have been better choices in 2008 and 2012 if they were available. They weren’t. Now they are and they haven’t been given the opportunity to take advantage of the conservative shift in the party because of Trump and Carson.
I’m not blaming them. They’re good men trying to do what’s right for the country. They’ve become the centerpieces for GOP voter angst because they represent sharp contrasts to the failed attempts the Republican Establishment has had in the past.
Both outsider frontrunners have a lot of great things to say. They’ve both been extremely successful in their non-political careers and they’re both very intelligent. However, Trump has demonstrated that he has neither the temperament nor decision-making abilities to be the best option for President. Meanwhile, Carson has demonstrated he he has neither the foreign relations knowledge nor the grasp on the economy that are necessary to be the best option for Commander-in-Chief. They are great men who could have helped to save the party and the country either of the last two elections. In 2016, there are better options for the Republican nomination.
Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Chris Christie are the political insiders that we should be opposing and I’d take Trump or Carson over any of them. Marco Rubio is the “fresh face” of the Republican party of old who would have been good in the past. Sadly, he popped on the scene recently thanks to Tea Party support and then immediately demonstrated that he’s much more liberal than expected. More importantly, he’s a firm believer in political expediency, meaning that he’ll do and say whatever it takes to win even if “whatever it takes” means following the moderate Republican Establishment path. I’d take Trump or Carson ahead of him as well.
As far as conservatives, Jindal, Rick Perry, and Scott Walker out. Paul is on his way out. The other candidates (yes, including Carly Fiorina) are fading and won’t be a factor come March. That leaves Cruz as the only true conservative who is willing to fighting the Republican Establishment. Unlike Trump or Carson, he has lived and breathed politics for 15 years even if he’s only been in elected office for less than four. He knows how the game works. He knows the players. He knows the evils in Washington DC and he hasn’t succumbed to them like Rubio, Bush, et al.
The big complaint about Cruz from Republicans is that he fights too hard against the system, that he’s not practical enough. That’s the storyline being pushed out by the Republican Establishment to once again confuse GOP voters into thinking that we have to have a moderate to win. It doesn’t work. President Obama has clearly demonstrated that you don’t have to be in the middle in order to win elections. In fact, if you look back at the last four decades, every winner but one was ideologically more extreme than his opponent. The only exception was when George H. W. Bush defeated a far-left Michael Dukakis. That wasn’t a victory for Bush’ moderate perspective. It was a victory driven by those hoping for a third term for Ronald Reagan.
The Republican Establishment continues to push away from the conservative wing of the party, demonstrating the definition of insanity by doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If we want to see the formula for winning the White House, we simply need to compare Senator and candidate Ted Cruz to then-Senator and candidate Barack Obama.
Ted Cruz has the precise pedigree to be able to galvanize the party and pull in the independent voters who are sick of what has happened the last 8-16 years. GOP leaders mustn’t continue to confuse independents with moderates. Most independents vote for ideas regardless of affiliation. They don’t vote moderate. They vote for the aggressive perspectives that grab their attention whether it’s far-right or far-left. Again, that’s one of the reasons that President Obama won so easily the last two elections.
Ted Cruz is ideologically situated to win independents with his conservative views just as President Obama won them over with his liberal views. We just need a better narrative and Cruz can deliver that exceptionally well. If he wins the primary, he will almost certainly win the general election. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Trump, Carson, or Rubio.
Over half of the Republicans being polled today believe that Trump or Carson are the answer. Other years, they probably would be. This year, there’s a better option who is willing to fight the Republican Establishment without being completely oblivious to the ins and outs of running this country.