He may be intelligent, but he cannot win nationally. A loner messiah is not what we need.
[Update, March 18, 2016, now Mar. 23: It looks like Cruz and Trump will have to slug it out. I’m in the ABT camp (Anyone but Trump), and since Cruz has a better chance than Kasich does to challenge Trump, I am compelled to support Cruz, though I hope the convention nominates someone other than the final three: Trump, Cruz, Kasich.]
Now back to the old article.
It was easy for me to write about ten reasons not to vote for Trump. His ideas and personality are outlandish.
Cruz, on the other hand, comes across as a good family man with a sincere faith. So I don’t take as much pleasure from posting this piece.
But this is politics, and I want to win in 2016.
Here are five reasons why he can’t.
1. His appearance makes him seem messianic
I heard there are over 400 million pictures uploaded online each day. Selfie Voters matter. Appearances matter.
Cruz cocks his eyebrows upward and adopts a serious tone of voice as if He Stands Alone on a Mission from God. Obama does the same thing, and I couldn’t take four years of it from a Republican. I don’t believe a majority would vote for Cruz in the generals because they would sense this unappealing characteristic in him.
A further deficit in his ability to win: His voice is high and tinny and irritating. It’s also very pious sounding, which goes with his messianic belief in himself.
Further, Cruz came into Washington to turn it upside down, and if he couldn’t get allies, then he would do it on his own.
The problem is—since entering the Senate, he hasn’t done it on his own, nor can he. He shouldn’t have made promises he couldn’t keep.
He’s not a messiah.
2. He can’t build a consensus and coalitions
In Washington, grownups must build them, but he can’t. He shouldn’t have called the Senate Majority leader a liar, any more than Boehner should have called him a jackass. If you criticized Boehner, you should have criticized Cruz too. Both were wrong.
Maybe someone should inform Cruz that D.C. works slowly. There are 535 members of the House and Senate, and the president has veto power. For many issues, even extremely important ones, like the Iran deal, the GOP can’t bring together enough votes in the Senate to override his veto.
Both parties need to work together—or enough Dems need to join the Republicans to get things done.
If elected (hypothetically), he could not build a coalition from the White House. Neither could Obama, and our economy and society are in a mess.
But coalition and consensus building is the way it works. A loner messiah doesn’t fit in.
3. Cruz and his supporters misread the American electorate
I’ve called them hyper-conservatives and WHINOs (White House In Name Only). The “strong” right believes that One Day … One Day … a True and Pure Conservative will arise and change the world in one election cycle–fifty-five percent will vote for him.
The truth is America is deeply divided, and a large percentage likes big government. Politicians like Cruz scare them. They might eliminate Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security.
If elected (hypothetically), Cruz would ensure the loss of the Senate in 2018 (not 2016), because he would try to cut obese Uncle Sam with a rusty, smoky chainsaw.
It has taken eighty years since FDR, LBJ, liberal Republicans like Nixon, and Obama to build up big government. Cruz cannot hold it hostage to get his way.
The only time the GOP will have earned the right to cut government is when the economy grows at a minimum of four percent per quarter, and only then.
4. Cruz doesn’t speak Spanish (or only a little)
I concede this is a minor issue, but it’s all about expectations. A Spanish surname demands of its national bearer to speak Spanish. A bearer of a non-Spanish surname does not have this requirement hanging over his head. Bush exceeds expectations; Rubio meets them.
Cruz speaks Spanglish and wouldn’t or couldn’t debate in Spanish. This deficiency may not be dispositive by itself, but it wouldn’t draw 20-30 percent of Latinos to our side in 2016. For all we know, his inability may turn off these voters.
To speak Spanish in today’s world may infuriate hyper-conservatives and WHINOs, but if we got them, let’s use them: Jeb and Rubio.
Since we can’t deport 11 million undocumented workers (sorry, Trump supporters), we need to persuade them in their language that America is different from socialist countries, and we’re broke. We can’t afford a big government anymore.
Maybe the slow economies in their country of origin prompted them to move up here, and maybe the economies are slow because socialism dominates. The USA must fight against it, to maintain its prosperity. That message needs to go forward among Hispanics whose default vote goes Dem.
5. Texas doesn’t fit geographically and electorally
Here are the states that Romney lost in 2012, but which can be flipped in 2016:
Great Lakes: WI (10), MI (16), and OH (18)
Plains: MN (10) and IA (6)
Mid-Atlantic: VA (13)
Southwest and Rockies: NM (5), NV (6), and CO (9)
South: FL (29)
Those ten states add up to 132 electoral votes. Romney won 206 with the states he did win. That would make 338, and we only need 270.
We already got TX, and we need FL. Therefore, Rubio fits better in FL than Cruz would; as for the northern states Rubio (or the nominee) must choose a VP nominee from the north. Maybe–maybe–Sen. Joni Ernst from Iowa would work, but that’s a sidebar issue for now.
Let’s wrap this up.
Intelligent, Cruz would make a great debater against Hillary (so would Rubio), but he couldn’t beat her in the generals. The voters who live between the two forty-eight yard lines are moderate, and politicians like Cruz scare them.
And if he did, hypothetically, win the generals, it is not clear he would make a quality president, for we would most likely lose the Senate in 2018 and certainly not build coalitions.
Nov. 3, 2015:
He was on the North Texas Presidential Forum, along with other candidates. He pointed out how Reagan started a revolution and implied he (Cruz) is the man to do it today. Cruz even said Reagan worked with Tip O’Neil. But the problem with Cruz’s self-belief is that Reagan was a two-term governor of the most powerful state in the union in the days of street protests. He was by his own admission in his autobiography opposed to hard-core conservatives who refused to win even a little and implement conservatism by degrees. As far as I know, he never shut down the government. The substantive parallels don’t exist between Reagan and Cruz, except the letter R.
Nov. 30, 2015:
Politico reports that as Cruz gains, the senators rally around … who? Cruz? No, around Rubio. Under the second point, above, I said Cruz can’t build consensuses in the Senate because his colleagues don’t like him. He’s a loner Messiah (point no. 1). A Cruz nomination makes the senators shudder. This proves he wouldn’t be a good president.
Dec. 9, 2015: NRO reports that Cruz is skipping an ISIS hearing and going to appear on Foxnews and a NY fundraiser.
January 12, 2016: David Brooks of the NY Times, a moderate, reports that Cruz’s speeches are needlessly apocalyptic. Before then, however, he was a merciless Texas AG:
In 1997, Michael Wayne Haley was arrested after stealing a calculator from Walmart. This was a crime that merited a maximum two-year prison term. But prosecutors incorrectly applied a habitual offender law. Neither the judge nor the defense lawyer caught the error and Haley was sentenced to 16 years.
Eventually, the mistake came to light and Haley tried to fix it. Ted Cruz was solicitor general of Texas at the time. Instead of just letting Haley go for time served, Cruz took the case to the Supreme Court to keep Haley in prison for the full 16 years.
Some justices were skeptical. “Is there some rule that you can’t confess error in your state?” Justice Anthony Kennedy asked. The court system did finally let Haley out of prison, after six years.
The case reveals something interesting about Cruz’s character. Ted Cruz is now running strongly among evangelical voters, especially in Iowa. But in his career and public presentation Cruz is a stranger to most of what would generally be considered the Christian virtues: humility, mercy, compassion and grace. Cruz’s behavior in the Haley case is almost the dictionary definition of pharisaism: an overzealous application of the letter of the law in a way that violates the spirit of the law, as well as fairness and mercy.
Then Brooks continues with the Cruz of today:
Ted Cruz didn’t come up with this hard, combative and gladiatorial campaign approach in isolation. He’s always demonstrated a tendency to bend his position — whether immigration or trade — to what suits him politically. This approach works because in the wake of the Obergefell v. Hodges court decision on same-sex marriage, many evangelicals feel they are being turned into pariahs in their own nation.
Cruz exploits and exaggerates that fear. But he reacts to Obergefell in exactly the alienating and combative manner that is destined to further marginalize evangelicals, that is guaranteed to bring out fear-driven reactions and not the movement’s highest ideals.
The best conservatism balances support for free markets with a Judeo-Christian spirit of charity, compassion and solidarity. Cruz replaces this spirit with Spartan belligerence. He sows bitterness, influences his followers to lose all sense of proportion and teaches them to answer hate with hate. This Trump-Cruz conservatism looks more like tribal, blood and soil European conservatism than the pluralistic American kind.
Feb. 7, 2016
Nate Cohn has outlined the election troubles for Mr. Cruz in the next several primaries.
First Cohn lays out why Cruz won in Iowa:
He won Iowa for one reason: He excelled among people who described themselves as “very conservative.” They voted for him by a big margin; he won 44 percent of them to Donald Trump’s 21 percent, according to exit polls. He lost every other ideological category, and often by a lot.
After pointing out that the Republican party primary electorate is more moderate than that in Iowa, Cohn notes:
Even in primary states with well-justified conservative reputations, like Texas or Alabama, “very conservative” voters outnumbered the total of self-described moderates and liberals only by a four-point margin. In the north, “moderate” and “liberal” usually outnumber “very conservative” voters, and often by a wide margin.
That’s why Mr. Cruz has so little traction in New Hampshire. He would be expected to win only about 15 to 17 percent of the vote given the ideological composition of the New Hampshire electorate, supposing he fared about as well among each demographic group as in Iowa. Current polls show Mr. Cruz earning nearly this exact amount.
The conclusion to draw in the generals is that in no way can Cruz bring the roughly forty-two percent who don’t declare themselves liberal or conservative to the GOP if he gets the nomination. In short, nationally, America is right of center, not hard right. And Cruz has a narrow appeal among them, not to mention the persuadable left-of-centrists.
This blog first appeared at American Thinker.
Updated July 5, 2017.