Marybeth Glenn is the editor of www.CollisionOfChurchAndState.com. On April 1, she published an article arguing that the Republicans would be better off with Donald Trump winning the nomination rather than Ted Cruz, even though she opposes Trump as well as Cruz. Here Glenn and Bombs and Dollars editor Mitchell Blatt discuss the pros and cons of different strategies for #NeverTrump to pursue.

Would you prefer seeing Trump win the nomination?

Mitchell Blatt
Marybeth, both of us have been strongly opposed to Donald Trump. We have also admired Marco Rubio’s forward-looking, optimistic tone. But now that the Republican race is down to two main contenders, Trump and Cruz, you have written that Trump’s nomination would be preferable over Cruz if they are the only two choices at the convention.

You wrote:

I’ve been saying – since day one – that Trump is a parasite to Conservatism, and I haven’t changed my views on this; however, conservatives are deeply wrong in regards to choosing the lesser evil and what it will do to the GOP as a whole. At this point, choosing the lesser evil between the two is like giving CPR to a corpse and expecting that after it’s all over no one is going to judge you for going full Weekend at Bernie’s with it first. The only way to salvage this election is to either pick a completely different candidate at the convention, or go third party – I’ll explain why below, with three possible scenarios.

I’m also going to tell you why Donald Trump would be better than Ted Cruz on the general ticket if, God forbid, it comes down to one of them.

Ted or Donald? What if the Quadrennial Convention Fails Us?

As a disclaimer, you wrote, “Once again I am not, in no uncertain terms, telling you to vote for Trump. I want us to get to the convention, I’m merely speaking about a fallback plan.”

So just to be clear, what you are arguing is that it would be better for Trump to win the nomination at a contested convention than for Cruz to do so because then a third-party conservative would have a chance at winning?

Marybeth Glenn
Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: My argument is that with Trump or Cruz running, the result is a Hillary win unless a viable third party joins the race. Either way, the face of the GOP is irreparably damaged by the divisive narrative of both campaigns. If Cruz is the nominee, many well-meaning conservatives will attach themselves to that narrative in an attempt to salvage the election. If Trump is the nominee, it would force us all to come together against that narrative, and not only give us a better chance of a successful third party, but also give us the ammunition to say that we fought the hateful rhetoric when it is thrown back at us in future elections.

The problem with the Republican Party is that we don’t think to the future and how our current actions will give Democrats ammunition for God knows how long. A great example of this is Ted Cruz and his behavior; while he was focused on this election and doing anything to win, he attached himself to Trump’s hateful ideology. There’s no defense for such allegiances, and that is why his name on a general ticket would be toxic. It would cause the conservatives who support him to lose credibility in the war against false Republican stereotypes. Additionally, Ted Cruz’s immigration stance hasn’t been as publicized as it will be if he’s the nominee. The ads basically write themselves: Photos of Hispanic families “Republicans chose someone with a harsher immigration stance than Donald Trump. Is that who we want running the country?”

Mitch
Two other questions: 1.) Would you prefer a third candidate to win a contested convention, and who might that be?
2.) You are residing in Wisconsin and had written that post before Cruz’s big win there. Did you vote for him?

Marybeth
1.) Absolutely [I would prefer a third candidate]. My post was only to give a worst case scenario, and maybe encourage my readers to see beyond this particular election and think more about the future of our party. As for who we should pick, I don’t have a certain individual in mind. I believe it needs to be someone who takes a softer stance on immigration and can help heal the damage done throughout this election. Someone who stands antithetical to the stereotypes, and will openly state that it wasn’t just Trump’s tone – but also his message – that was wrong.

2.) I feel that everything is up in the air at this point, and that even the convention could go south. So, after debating with myself for quite a while, I voted my morals, which ruled out both Trump and Cruz. I considered writing someone in, but I instead just chose to vote Rubio. As someone who has spoken out about Cruz, as well as how voting the lesser evil continuously fails us, I thought it hypocritical of me to turn around and vote for him.

A (partial) defense of Cruz

Mitch
Now we get down to where I have some areas of disagreement about how best can the Republicans and the conservative movement win while also expanding its base and bring in people with different cultural perspectives, which is necessary for winning. Not only do they need to expand demographically, but they also need to get more urban whites, more cosmopolitan-minded people, not just the people with grievances and a particular affinity for God, guns, grits and gravy. I think we agree on the basic goal, but in this particular election we can discuss what is the best course of action to get there and consider each other’s ideas.

Marybeth
I could not agree with you more, but I think there’s an elephant in the room regarding truly conservative principles: A large number of Republicans are just as bad as the Left when it comes to close minded discussions. I wrote a post on how we need to steal the feminist flag back because we are the real feminists, and many didn’t even read the text, but instead took an anti-feminist position without researching my own. The same thing happened when I wrote a piece on police overreach. In their own way, this inability to delve into topics and research becomes their own version of the Left’s “all Republicans want war,” and “all conservatives hate colored people.” It’s intentional ignorance. The number of people who truly want to fix the issues is dwindling, and the number who have decided that every hill is worth dying upon is growing. The staunch two party system, loyalty thugs and all, is a part of the issue.

Mitch
I do agree with you broadly that there are many problems with Cruz. I thought his rhetoric since the day he got elected was too adversarial and extreme, the way he got into so many camera-ready arguments on the floor of Senate and implied that everything is a Constitutional crisis. He compared his stand against Obamacare to the stand of resisters against the Nazis. He shut down the government, knowing that there was no way for a minority to get an Obamacare defunding bill passed a Democrat-controlled Senate. As you said, he had buddied up to Trump as an primary election strategy, but it seems like his destructive tactics of sacrificing the GOP for his own gain began the day he was sworn in.

With all of that being said, I do think, ultimately, he is competent, that he is informed about the issues foreign and domestic he will have to deal with, and that his policies and practices, while perhaps to the edge of the window of accepted mainstream political behavior, are still within the window. He’s a halfway decent guy if the standard for decency is simply not tweeting unflattering photos of your opponent’s wife and not joking about dating your one-year-old daughter. None of that can be said about Donald Trump. I would want to see Trump lose as soon as possible—and if that means him losing to Ted Cruz, then I would drink to that.

I would have to be lying if I didn’t admit I am motivated at least somewhat by a need to see karma in seeing Trump lose at the convention. But I believe there are also a number of reasons the Republican Party and the conservative movement—and the country—would suffer even more with Trump than with Cruz:

  • We don’t know what could happen between the RNC and the election. While all the polls and favorability numbers show Trump would lose, there is at least some chance, greater than zero that he might win if something crazy happens. Moreover, the very fact of him campaigning on the national stage would give him even more time on TV, and he could think up even more terrible things to do and say. America shouldn’t have to suffer through that.
  • Trump as the Republican nominee would discredit the Republican Party for years to come. While Cruz has advocated extremist positions on many issues, he doesn’t have such a long list of straight up racist, sexist and downright moronic comments. A hardline immigration policy still wouldn’t discredit the party so much as those comments, since a lot of apathetic citizens don’t care or understand policies, while a sound byte spreads to everyone.
  • Cruz would moderate many of his policies and govern as a Republican. Paul Waldman wrote in The Week on March 28 that,

    “The truth is that almost all of the policies Ted Cruz would pursue are exactly those that would have been pursued by Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, or any of the other Republicans who ran for president. Tax cuts for the wealthy? Oh yeah. Fewer regulations for corporations? Right on. No action on climate change? Yes, sir. Boost military spending? You know it. Right-wing judges? You betcha. Continue the assault on collective bargaining? No doubt.”

    Granted that his description of each of those policies belies his liberal leanings, but I think Waldman is basically right—Cruz’s biggest differences with many of his rivals are on language and tactics. Whereas, with Trump, we have no idea what he would do on most things, since he has few consistent positions, but the ones that he does have are either anti-conservative, or, in the case of immigration, extremely radical.

Marybeth
Let me respond to some of your points specifically. You said,

”He’s a halfway decent guy if the standard for decency is simply not tweeting unflattering photos of your opponent’s wife and not joking about dating your one-year-old daughter.”

That will remain the standard unless we demand that it be changed. I recently wrote a post on Ted Cruz and the moral equivalence test, in said post I wrote, “Continuously picking the lesser of two evils has given us a popularity contest. By always choosing the lesser evil, we are simply breeding politicians who have discovered the art of effective evil.” I firmly believe that every time we choose the lesser evil, we pander to the angry factions who demand evil. In your reply you mentioned a lot of negatives concerning Cruz, but to be honest those are all issues that I can move aside for the good of the country. But, as I noted in that same post, I draw the line when it comes to harming innocent individuals. The intruder who has taken the family hostage and insists that I name the first family member to be executed will NOT be getting an answer from me, and I’m not convinced that I’ve chosen by default. If I place the unborn child on the same pedestal as the illegal immigrant child, I won’t be forced to choose.

Bad attitude? Sure, I’ll hold my nose.

Human lives being ruined or taken? I draw the line.

“Moreover, the very fact of him campaigning on the national stage would give him even more time on TV, and he could think up even more terrible things to do and say. America shouldn’t have to suffer through that.”

I agree with you in the premise of your argument here, nevertheless, I would argue that with Trump and Hillary exposing their inner demons alongside each other we would finally have the best opportunity to strike a blow to the two party mob mentality with a viable third party. Sometimes people need to drudge through the misery of their own making. We need to devastate the most hateful factions among us (including those on the left), and a good third party candidate could do as such.

“While Cruz has advocated extremist positions on many issues, he doesn’t have such a long list of straight up racist, sexist and downright moronic comments. A hardline immigration policy still wouldn’t discredit the party so much as those comments, since a lot of apathetic citizens don’t care or understand policies, while a sound byte spreads to everyone.”

The vast majority of citizens are apathetic, but that’s because the attention span of the average American is sadly low. They don’t want to read, they would rather watch a movie. They don’t want to see the article, they want to watch the news clip. Democrats are not ignorant individuals, they know how powerful a visual can be. If Eisenhower’s attempt at repatriation had photographic evidence, he would be remembered as the man who sent almost 90 immigrants to suffer from heat exhaustion until their death in a desert. That’s what happened, yet because there’s no photo, his deportation attempt is talked about on the national stage in a positive light.

Come the general, it will take one Sunday night special with a handful of DACA recipients, many of whom weren’t even aware of their illegal status until they were of age, to turn the tides on Cruz – and by proxy the Republican Party. They’ll sob as they talk about how Ted Cruz would deport them from the only home they’ve ever known, and they’ll say it in perfect English. Americans will see fellow Americans (by all accounts) begging for the sake of their livelihood. We’ll have faces to haunt us, and they’ll roll out stats that right-wing Republicans refuse to acknowledge alongside those faces. The sound clips will be used ad nauseam. I’ve already been watching the YouTube videos with little traction, a DREAMer showing up here and there at Cruz rallies, asking him if he’d deport them. They’re under the radar now, but they won’t be. Then to add insult to injury, they’ll seal the deal with a video of him saying that he’s stronger on immigration than Trump, “And in fact, look, there’s a difference. He’s advocated allowing folks to come back in and become citizens. I oppose that.”

I was never good at sports, crafts, or musical instruments, but I could stand my ground and debate adults by the time I was ten; I have a talent for finding the weakest point, an emotional flaw, or an open door and capitalizing on it (which is nothing to brag about). If I were the left, I would paint Republicans as insincere individuals who capitalized on baseless fear for the sole objective of purging innocent individuals out of the country based on ethnicity, and – right or wrong – it would work. I have no doubt that this is exactly what they will do, and they’ll give the argument a visual. The 72% of people in this nation who believe illegal immigrants should have a way to stay already have a moral base and compassion for immigrants, it’s the perfect sweet spot to go all in and exploit.

“…but I think Waldman is basically right—Cruz’s biggest differences with many of his rivals are on language and tactics. Whereas, with Trump, we have no idea what he would do on most things, since he has few consistent positions, but the ones that he does have are either anti-conservative, or, in the case of immigration, extremely radical.”

Cruz’s immigration position is even more radical. (More on that in the next post.)

Part II: Why Marybeth thinks Cruz’s immigration position will be even more problematic than Trump’s in a general election.
Part III coming April 15: How could the GOP really win a contested convention against Cruz’s strong delegate operations?

Photos by Gage Skidmore, used and modified by Mitchell Blatt, via Wikimedia Creative Commons license.


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