Ted Cruz must feel like the most unappreciated man in the country. Conservatives, it seems, have abandoned him for Donald Trump, much as the pretty prom queen sells out the good guy next door to run off with the rich brat in his flashy convertible. It wasn’t so long ago that Cruz was the darling of the Tea Party and the standard bearer for true conservatism. What happened? To put it in the words of John Kasich, he with the great misfortune of having been praised by the mainstream media after the first debate, Donald Trump tapped into something – what exactly is a subject for debate.
Republican anger and frustration seems to be the most popular and palpable explanation though Trump supporters deny this. Even conservative media prognosticators seem entranced by the brash talking billionaire much as a child with a shiny new penny. It may not be worth much but it sure is pretty. Meanwhile, anyone pointing out the obvious flaws in Trump’s candidacy is branded with the dreaded label of “establishment!”
Which brings us to the central theme of the Republican race thus far—a party more focused on purging dissidents within its own ranks than unseating Democrats from office. It’s obvious that many within what would normally constitute the Republican base are frustrated with their own party’s inability to thwart the Obama agenda despite now holding control of both chambers of Congress. They see this failure as evidence that “establishment” (that word again!) Republicans are no different from Democrats. This of course is lunacy. Certainly many on the Right (myself included) wish that Boehner and McConnell were closer to Ted Cruz, but equating them to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid is not only hyperbolic nonsense, it is also damaging to the party (all factions) and its goal of reversing the abhorrent policies of Obama.
Why not force vetoes on Obamacare, funding of Planned Parenthood, and immigration measures? Make Obama come out on record on these issues. Seriously? Is there really any question where the President stands on these issues? Force senators and congressmen to go on record supporting or opposing the President? Ditto. As George Will recently noted, those who blame Republican leadership for failing to stop Obama might as well blame the Founding Fathers who drafted the Constitution. Right on cue, Will was accused of “attacking” our Founding Fathers. Give me a break.
It is little wonder that reasonable conservatives, trying to explain the Trump phenomena point to anger and frustration. What else explains how a man who is clearly the most progressive candidate in the field, who advocates tax increases, defends Planned Parenthood, resists entitlement reform, and who has in the past supported nationalized health care, is leading the Republican field, including among evangelicals and Tea Party loyalists.
Certainly, we are all weary of the PC police who constantly pick apart every word of every utterance of any conservative or Republican, imagining a bogeyman of racism, discrimination, or bigotry. A man like Trump, who is unafraid to speak his mind and who not only refuses to conform to political correctness but seemingly goes out of his way to challenge it, is truly a breath of fresh air. However, this is hardly sufficient qualification to be President. And as much as it has warmed the hearts of both the conservative rank and file and its punditry, it is highly unlikely to win over moderate voters who will in all likelihood decide the election yet again.
Yes, it is fashionable for conservative punditry to point out that “establishment” (OMG!) candidates have lost the last two elections to Obama. However, it makes little sense to suppose that a more conservative candidate would have done better. The theory being, I guess, that conservatives, unhappy with McCain and Romney as candidates, decided to stay home, thus punishing the GOP (and the rest of America by the way!) with Obama. Let’s see, that Romney guy, he waffled on life and supported a health care plan similar to Obamacare. That’s unacceptable. I’ll show him, I’m going to help a man get elected who supports abortion as long a toe nail remains in womb and has an ultimate goal of single payer health care. How do you like them apples, establishment?
Of course, there is absolutely no chance that a “true” conservative candidate might have lost any of the moderates who supported Romney. What true conservative would they have preferred anyway? Rick Santorum? Newt Gingrich? Ron Paul?? Though ridiculous on its face, if it were true that large numbers of conservatives sat out the last two elections to punish the GOP, then shame on them! Their shortsightedness has brought our country to brink of the point of no return. Their answer now? Not Ted Cruz, a strong conservative who might actually have a chance to win over voters with ideas, but rather Donald Trump, a bombastic, substance-lacking weather vane whose one attribute, if you can call it that, is his ability to go toe to toe with liberal flamethrowers.
This is the most important election in our lifetimes and quite possible in the history of our republic. As consequential as the last two presidential elections have been, they pale in comparison. For this may very well be the last best chance to reverse not only the policies of a big government liberal but to reject the hijacking of authority by the executive branch that he has presided over. If Hillary Clinton (or whoever the liberals end up nominating) wins, it will be that much easier to govern by executive fiat and against the will of the people, precedence having been firmly established and voter-endorsed. To head off this disaster we must do better than Donald Trump.