While I have trouble understanding the appeal of Donald Trump, I have less trouble when it comes to Ted Cruz, who has just established his bona fides as a top GOP presidential candidate by winning the Iowa Caucus. I see him as a really, really conservative that sees politics as a war between viewpoints and wants to apply tactics as such (compromise = losing, there are only wins and loses). If the country burns for a while as a result, well that’s just collateral damage for the “right side” winning. I can only imagine he is a dream candidate for the Sean Hannity/Rush Limbaugh’s and many of their listeners, who take that same view of politics.
That said, I think in any other year, one without a celebrity billionaire egomaniac which the press can’t quit obsessing about, Ted Cruz would be viewed as the extreme non-mainstream candidate. Here’s my rationale:
- It seems like nobody who gets to know him actually likes him, not even people on his own side. Bob Dole surely doesn’t. People from George W. Bush’s presidential campaign didn’t. John Boehner? Nope. People at Princeton where he went to school? Not so much. As President, it’s going to be hard to get around working with people, and while maybe it’s not a requirement, it may be easier if everyone doesn’t see you as an a-hole (then again, if you take the view that politics is war, then maybe you could see someone being YOUR a-hole as a plus).
- His tactics are slimy. In Iowa, first his team sent out mail flyers to voters falsely stating that they were required to show up for the caucus, else it would negatively impact their imaginary voter participation grade. Then, his team took a CNN report that Ben Carson was flying back to Florida and used that to falsely tell Carson supporters that Ben had dropped out of the race so you better support Ted. (Once again though, it you think politics is war, then this is just ‘ends justify the means’ kind of stuff.)
- Ted Cruz and lies have a special relationship. Check out Politifact for yourself, but by my count, out of all the Ted Cruz statements they have scored, roughly 70% have been scored as mostly false, false, or “pants on fire”.
- Ted Cruz believes in conspiracy theories. Whether it’s Agenda 21 (including the abolishment of golf), communists at Harvard Law School, the supposed threat from Sharia Law, checking in to make sure the U.S. military wasn’t invading Texas, state nullification of federal law…..if there is a weird right-wing theory, Ted Cruz probably subscribes to it.
- Ted Cruz is a big believer in using government shutdowns as a “negotiation” tactic. I have no doubt that as President, he would continue to use this tactic, and it would potentially be a much more potent here. After all, he’s only one out of hundred in the Senate, but as President, all continuing resolutions and debt ceiling bills would come to him. I could imagine where we could get to a point that the continuity of government could become dependent on Congressional veto overrides.
Personally, I think anyone elected President, while certainly having a vision for the country, still has to act in the best interests of the country as a whole and every citizen, even those he/she disagrees with. I don’t think it’s the place for a demagogue who views politics as a war to be won by any political means necessary.