We come to the conclusion of Bombs and Dollars’ three-part series with Marybeth Glenn about the quandary of a Cruz vs Trump convention. In this part of the discussion we talk about whether there is actually any prospect of both of them being defeated.
Marybeth, you said that it would take someone who has a softer stance on immigration and who “stands antithetical to the stereotypes,” and I agree with you that such a person would not only be the right person for the presidency, but do you fear the Republican base is such that no one can win a primary nomination without going to the extremes? We’ve seen “RINOs” be demonized by much of the Tea Party for any hint of compromise and any kind of immigration reform that allows a path to citizenship labeled “amnesty”—even during the Bush administration. How can the conservative base be convinced of that, especially after each time a far-right Republican loses many of the activists blame the “establishment”?
I think right now is the perfect time for that. We have some amazing Republicans right now, from Paul Ryan to Marco Rubio, Nikki Haley to Tim Scott, etc., the list is long. People spent so much time worshiping conservative talk radio heads and pundits who just wanted to sell books. Right now most Republicans are upset with them for betraying the vast majority of us who disagreed with Trump. Sadly, in another four years many of those wounds will scab over, it’s best to strike now and reface the party while the wound is fresh. The darker the night, the sweeter the sunrise. We need to sell a message of hope and unity to those who currently crave it. The Tea Party, which began under noble intentions, came at a cost. Those operating under its label traded logic for anger, and I don’t know if we’ll come back from that, but we have to try one step at a time. The first step just happens to be a split from the angriest among us, a severing of ties.
That’s really my main point. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are both bad for conservatism, but like a toxic relationship, Donald Trump is the cheater, Ted Cruz is the opportunist. Many women will stay with the opportunist because even if he treats them poorly, they’ve convinced themselves he’s the best they can do, but over time he’ll slowly do more permanent damage than the cheater. When it’s the cheater, most women flee. For the sake of our party, if it’s between the two (and I sincerely hope it isn’t), we’re better off with someone who makes us unite in our urge to flee. It’s a bitter pill, I know.
Is a non-Cruz nomination actually possible?
I have seen a poll out that showed Ted Cruz has 59% of the public giving him an unfavorable rating, just ten points lower than Trump’s, and his favorable rating is tied with Trump. (A web poll, to be sure, AP-GfK, but Morning Consult found his negatives at 51% and YouGov/Economist found them at 57%.) From a practical perspective it would seem like it would be in the GOP’s interests to nominate someone altogether different who is more popular. However that would face resistance both from activists arguing about the democratic “the will of the people” and more importantly from Ted Cruz’s delegates. Considering how Cruz is reportedly doing so well at winning delegates in local elections, I don’t see how he could possibly lose a contested nomination. Do you?
However that works out, it will be decided in Cleveland not by us. But ordinary voters and writers and bloggers can argue over whether or not it would be justifiable to nominate someone other than Cruz and Trump. Trump has already been whining about how unfair he thinks it would be for someone who won less states or less votes than him to win the nomination, but it seems most of the respectable commentators have put that argument to rest by noting that a majority of Republicans oppose Trump, that the rules require a majority of delegates to vote for the nominee, and that it is smart to have some safeguards to prevent tyranny of the majority. National Review has been one of the leaders in making that argument.
However, now I see an April 7th article in National Review written by Jeremy Carl seemingly arguing the opposite of all of those points in order to make the case that Ted Cruz shouldn’t be denied the nomination.
“[T]here is something worse than a Trump nomination,” Carl wrote, “and that is a coup by D.C. insiders to install one of their own as the nominee, flatly defying the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the GOP electorate.”
Isn’t that the same thing that could be said of nominating Ted Cruz, whom National Review’s editorial board endorsed? Why is it that, having already established the fact that the votes of the plurality should be ignored if they are for Trump, but that the second-place finisher has a moral claim to the nomination? A rhetorical question, perhaps, but take this opportunity to make your case for why the GOP would be justified in nominating neither Trump nor Cruz.
I think we’re on the same page regarding the eligibility of both leading GOP candidates, and the two notes I would add are the following:
- While I have a deep respect for National Review, and read their articles daily, they’re not infallible. They have endorsed Cruz – including the writer of the post in question – and are an opinion magazine. I often agree and disagree with various writers, even those I am a fan of.
Excerpt from the article:
“Despite Ted Cruz’s overwhelming win in Wisconsin on Tuesday, it continues to be clear that one of the only things uniting much of the GOP establishment Dorothys in their Wizard of Oz fantasy world is their shared belief that they can simply go to the convention floor, close their eyes, click their fabulous ruby-red slippers together and say, “There’s no place like home,” and then a candidate will magically appear to replace Trump or Cruz as the GOP nominee. These “leaders” need to leave their electoral fantasyland and stop plotting a coup against the vast majority of their own voters.”
The exit polls really give us a broad look at the issue with Carl’s argument. In the first place, Rubio was polling fairly equal with Cruz in WI, so many voters who showed up for the primary were #NeverTrump, not #CruzCrew. 35% of Republican voters said, during the primary exit poll, that they would not vote for Cruz if he were the nominee, 7% said they’d vote for Hillary, the remaining percentage said third party or stay home.
“More than six in 10 GOP voters in Wisconsin think undocumented immigrants should be offered a path to legal status, on track to be the highest of any state this year (it’s topped out at 59 percent in Virginia). Only a third support deporting undocumented immigrants, fewer than in previous primaries. Deportation voters have been a strong group for Trump in previous primaries; Cruz beat Trump in recent contests (North Carolina, Missouri and Illinois) among the larger group that favors a path to legal status, and Kasich won them in Ohio.”
- ABC News
What happens when Cruz’s immigration status is fully exposed? As I noted, the media is sitting on all of the talking points, sound clips, etc… Cruz would have lost Wisconsin if Rubio were still in the game, the fact that Rubio supporters came out for Cruz, despite clear objections, is evidence that their goal was to get to a convention, not elect Cruz. It’s not an official poll, and I’m not insisting that it be treated as such, but out of the 40+ Rubio supporting friends who voted Cruz in the Wisconsin primary, I only know of four who would vote for him in the general. Many are praying for a replacement, and with Cruz not hitting the delegate mark, it’s foolish for Trump and Cruz supporters to play hostage with their claim to plurality. As noted in my post, Andrew Jackson was struck down in similar fashion.
Many on Team Cruz are content in the hostage situation they’ve created, and feel as though they have leverage to bully us into supporting their candidate. It’s the leftists mob mentality that I vehemently reject. They’re using the same argument as Trump supporters, which just goes to prove yet another long held opinion of mine: Many in the Tea Party or far right factions are not preaching true conservatism. They want to play by a different set of rules for themselves. They hate big government with the exception that they want it for themselves and their own purposes. They hate leftist bully tactics until they deploy them for themselves.
- People often forget that a primary race is not bound by “We The People.” This isn’t direct democracy. The RNC has the right to put whomever they choose on the ticket. That’s why the rules can be changed on a dime, and why – unlike a presidential election – a contested convention is not settled in the House of Representatives. The Party can do whatever they want, it just depends on what they’re brave enough to do.