Let me start this blog post by stating that Ted Cruz was not my first choice for the Republican presidential nomination. My first choice was Jeb Bush, and even though Jeb Bush proved to be a hapless candidate, I remain convinced that he would have made an excellent president, and I think it is a travesty and an embarrassment that the Republican party was not more open to his candidacy.
Of the candidates remaining, I think that Marco Rubio is the most compelling conservative candidate in a general election contest against Hillary Clinton. However, his candidacy is going down in flames in the fight for the Republican presidential nomination. John Kasich would make the most qualified president of the candidates remaining–and like the Jeb Bush situation, it is a travesty and an embarrassment that the Republican party is not giving his candidacy the hearing that it deserves. (To be sure, both Bush and Kasich are ultimately responsible for any failures that their candidacies encountered and continue to encounter, but it is equally true that Republicans have been remarkably close-minded regarding the Bush and Kasich candidacies).
This leaves Ted Cruz. I have had serious problems with Cruz in the past, and I continue to have problems with him. We will get to that later. But whatever those problems may be, one thing is abundantly clear: Ted Cruz is the candidate best positioned to stop Donald Trump from getting the Republican presidential nomination. For that, he deserves the support of all Republicans who care about their party and their country.
Cruz has many positive attributes that qualify him to be an excellent presidential candidate for the Republican party, and to be a very good president of the United States. Three of Cruz’s chief qualifications are as follows:
- He respects the Constitution of the United States. Cruz, quite famously, memorized the United States Constitution. One might think that this feat was and is merely a parlor trick, but Cruz’s lifelong fascination with the Constitution has led to a deep and profound respect of the document, in addition to an encyclopedic knowledge of the Constitution. I like candidates who revere and respect the Constitution because–among other things–it means that those candidates will operate under a system of rules, and within the confines of those rules. As Erica Grieder writes, “Cruz’s diabolical plans, and thirst for world domination, are ultimately constrained by his own fealty to the supreme law of the land.” (I am pretty sure, by the way, that the references to “diabolical plans, and thirst for world domination” were and are tongue-in-cheek.) Compare and contrast this behavior with that of Donald Trump, who wants to eviscerate the First Amendment so that people cannot say mean–and true–things about him.
- Ted Cruz is very smart. Being very smart is not the be-all and end-all secret to being successful at life, but being very smart is better than being very not-smart. Ted Cruz excelled at Princeton and Harvard Law School, he clerked for Judge Michael Luttig and Chief Justice William Rehnquist, he was very successful in private practice and as the solicitor general of Texas, and he won a Senate race that people thought he would not win. He has an excellent grasp of substantive policy issues–especially legal issues–and that knowledge, coupled with his superior debating skills, allow him to hold his own (and then some) with anyone and everyone in any informed policy debate. Cruz’s very significant intellectual abilities also mean that he can quickly learn what he does not know, and that he knows what he does not know, and knows how to ask the proper questions necessary to get information that he may not possess at a particular given time.
- Ted Cruz has sincere and informed convictions. You may not be a right-of-center type, and even if you are, you may not be the kind of conservative that Ted Cruz is. Maybe you are a different type of conservative. Maybe you are a libertarian. But one thing that you cannot say, whatever your politics, is that Ted Cruz does not stand for something. Cruz has a sincere, coherent, intelligent and cogent set of political beliefs, and he can bring the best right-of-center arguments to bear against very good left-of-center arguments. This means that Cruz can elevate the political debate throughout the country–especially if he is paired against an equally intelligent group of left-of-center political and policy debaters–and the debate that would result as a consequence of Cruz’s participation will make for a better informed country. In the White House, Cruz’s set of beliefs would mean that he is more apt to act out of conviction and principle. Again, contrast this with Donald Trump, who is utterly ignorant when it comes to policy issues, and who has no overriding convictions save self-aggrandizement. At the same time, it is worth noting that Cruz–as the aforementioned Erica Grieder points out–is “not a fire-breathing extremist,” “not a wild-eyed maniac,” and “a mainstream conservative from the Texas Republican establishment.” This, of course, means that he can and will listen to the other side of a political debate, and that he knows how to negotiate and compromise, while at the same time not abandoning his principles. It is also worth noting that Cruz “is clearly more focused on fiscal issues than social ones, and he doesn’t use the economy as a proxy for the culture wars,” which quite certainly reflects my own intellectual and policy orientation as well.
Now, all of this having been written, I don’t think that Cruz is a perfect person or politician. As referenced in my very first link in this blog post, I believe that at times, Cruz has outsmarted himself on the Senate floor, and led Republicans to significant defeats in legislative fights. I recognize that Cruz never made it a priority to learn to be a good senator, perhaps because he believes that a thoroughgoing creature of Congress could never be president of the United States. But I still expect United States senators to be good at their jobs, and alas, Cruz has demonstrated in the past that he is not the best senatorial strategist and tactician around.
Moreover, I am deeply disappointed in the fact that Cruz has not stated that he will not endorse Donald Trump if Trump becomes the Republican presidential nominee, and I am equally disappointed that Cruz has echoed–however faintly–calls to deport illegal immigrants, and to build a wall on the southern border. None of these quasi-Trumpian stances do Cruz any credit whatsoever, and it is to be hoped that he abandons those stances as soon as possible.
But while Ted Cruz would be an imperfect candidate, Donald Trump would be an absolutely horrendous one. He must not be given the Republican presidential nomination. He must be stopped. And only one candidate in the Republican field who can stop Trump, unite the Republican party, defeat Hillary Clinton, and make a worthy occupant of the Oval Office.
That candidate is Ted Cruz. And he should be the 45th president of the United States.