Cruzin' for Answers

Lessons we can learn from the primary campaign.

In this most open-ended and free-flowing of modern primary seasons, Ted Cruz has much to be proud of.  Starting from zero, he managed to run the establishment candidates into the ground and even give a self-funding billionaire a few sleepless nights.  Where once he was a marginal figure, he is now known to all Americans and respected by - well, more than you might suppose anyway, for all the "Lyin' Ted" charges gleefully trumpeted by the media.

What's more, at the very young age of 45, Sen. Cruz' political career is not even half over; Mr. Reagan was a sitting President at 78!  Not many politicians have reached such heights of name recognition at such a young age, and even fewer Republicans.

Looking back over his campaign, we can see the beginnings of answers to several fundamental political questions we've wondered about for a long time.  So let's learn from recent history, and think through what it might mean for the future.

No Pale Pastels, but Bold Colors

Ever since the advent of William F. Buckley, conservatives have devoutly believed that a true-blue conservative candidate has the best chance of beating the opposition.  Why would anyone vote for a Democrat-lite when you can have a real Democrat at no extra charge?

Sure enough, the greatest modern conservative victories we've seen have been by politicians who didn't shy away from walking the walk, like Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich.  George H.W. Bush was elected in Reagan's coattails, but after one term of "moderate" Republicanism the country decided they'd just as soon have a real Democrat, Bill Clinton.  George W. Bush ended up in the White House after Indecision 2000, but even though he did win according to the Constitution, he definitively lost the popular vote.  He won re-election after becoming a war president and leading an invasion of Iraq which eventually succeeded in pacifying the place, our later defeat notwithstanding.

In contrast, the moderate Senator Bob Dole was squashed by Bill Clinton.  John McCain and Mitt Romney, all moderates, followed in his footsteps to defeat.

Staunch conservatives don't always win, of course: Ted Cruz isn't the nominee, and our elites love to remind us of the fate of Barry Goldwater in 1964.  But at the presidential level, it takes an exceptional set of circumstances for a moderate Republican to win, whereas Democrats have won with both moderates like Bill Clinton and doctrinaire leftists like Barack Obama.

The Republican party is currently suffused with a debate over Donald Trump's conservatism.  He certainly isn't anything like a traditional conservative, nor is he the social conservative we'd prefer.  But you can't argue about the "bold colors" of distinction between his trumpeted policies and Hillary's, and of the two, his definitely have a traditional and patriotic streak.  It will be educational to see what the American people choose.

The Wages of Breaking the 11th Commandment

While Mr. Trump is boldly following Reagan's advice of "No pale pastels, but bold colors," he's ignoring another of Mr. Reagan's maxims with equal fervor: the famous 11th Commandment, "Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican."

Mr. Trump is not only happy to speak ill of other Republicans, he apparently can't stop doing it even when winning.  The vitriol of "Lyin' Ted" and "Little Marco" are only rarely diluted by the more presidential use of the Senatorial honorific to which both men are entitled.

Thus far, this combative approach has done Mr. Trump no harm.  That may change at the convention or during the general election, with large chunks of the Republican Party saying that they prefer to vote either for Hillary or some other third party.

Or, it may not.  We here at Scragged honor Ronald Reagan as much as anyone, but we've never shied from speaking ill of Republicans when they deserve it - which, sad to say, is most of the time today.  In fact, it's our responsibility as good citizens to hold our leaders accountable, and their feet to the fire when they step out of line.  The far leftists show the power of this approach: over fifty years, through constant pressure and agitation, they have moved their party so far to the left that it would be unrecognizable to Democrats as recent as President John F. Kennedy.

What's good for the goose may be good for the gander; perhaps an intra-party civil war is just what the Republican Party needs.  Either way, we'll soon see if there's any penalty for breaking the 11th commandment, and we'll learn something useful for next time.

Iron Sharpeneth Iron

The Republican Party has long had a reputation for anointing "the next in line" as the nominee in an orderly and predictable fashion, with carefully managed primaries and conventions.  This is in contrast to the Democrats' often-contentious and occasionally riotous nominating contests.

This primary season has been unlike any other in modern times: the Republican candidates have thoroughly slugged it out in a way we've never seen.  Many pundits fret that this weakens everybody in the future, but we disagree.  Each and every one of the debate contenders visibly improved over the interminable series, Ted Cruz most of all but also Carly Fiorina and even John Kasich.

None of these people are anything like newcomers to the limelight.  You'd think they'd already be at the top of their game to have come so far, but no - they all had something to learn, and to differing extents, they learned it.  By definition, that makes them better prepared to fight against Hillary or any other Democrat.  It appears that it takes great opponents to refine great candidates.

Indeed, the Republican Party has an amazing bench of highly qualified, highly experienced leaders, and now has easily a half-dozen who've proven somewhat effective in the biggest game of all.  When has that ever happened?

Perhaps the winningest loser, though, is Ted Cruz himself.  Yes, he is almost certainly not going to get the nomination in 2016.  But he is also the Republican candidate who comes closest to Donald Trump in sheer ability to stick a thumb in the eye of the media, a skill which, in today's overwhelmingly leftist climate, is absolutely essential for any kind of Republican success.

What will he do with this?  If Hillary Clinton wins, we're sure we'll see a Cruz '20 campaign start up by the end of November.

In the meantime, though, there are other big jobs out there.  Sen. Cruz overwhelmingly won his home state of Texas, so he would almost certainly be elected governor in a shoo-in.  This would address our primary concern about him, his lack of executive experience.

The location and size of the state of Texas would necessarily also address the most reasonable "sober-minded" critique of Mr. Cruz, his lack of foreign policy chops.  Texas has people from every country, both legal and illegal; it has vast quantities of foreign trade in nearly every industrial category; and, of course, a large stretch of very troubled international border.

Or - for years now, there's been a movement in the Texas Republican Party to put a vote to Texans on secession from the United States as supposedly permitted by the original constitution under which Texas joined the union.  This proposal has been voted down every time thus far, but every time it gets closer to passing.  A President Hillary Clinton might be just enough to give this idea some traction.

Who knows, maybe Sen. Cruz will someday find himself the president of a sovereign nation - the Republic of Texas, if not the United States?

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments

I'd love to see Texas secede, I'll be packing my bags if they'll take me. Other states will follow not via Texas' special permission granted when they joined the US but via the 10th Amendment explicit wording of the rights of states to secede should they want to. The KGB did a report on the US some years ago that the US would evolve into 6 different countries. Like it or not it doesn't take a genius to see the possibility of that happening.

May 11, 2016 11:52 PM

.... "Democrats" have won with "moderates" like Bill Clinton ....

In fairness to moderates, Mr Clinton was not so much a "moderate," as he was an "incidental."

Incidental "president," that is. He and his Crime Family were in it only for the loot.

And the aggrandizement.

Brian Richard Allen

May 12, 2016 1:09 AM
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