Some Cruz fans protested, deeming me an advocate for “failed Establishment strategies” (I’m not) or assuming I dislike Ted Cruz (I don’t). Truth is, I would see a Cruz presidency as America’s salvation. But while I love Ted, I hold grave concerns with the society we’re asking to elect him—a society, I believe, we’ve failed to prepare. That’s on us, not Ted.
Do I consider losing to Hillary inevitable? No. Ted could win, but only if we on the Right change our approach—both with each other and the general populace. More on that later.
First, we can’t change our approach until we look with cold, unflinching eyes at the plusses and minuses of a Cruz candidacy. No elitist pessimism. No rah-rah optimism. I’m about to say exactly what I see, and if it offends Ted’s critics or supporters, well…that’s unfortunate, but necessary. We need to be honest with each other. And with ourselves. For Ted to win the White House, it’s time all of us stopped posturing, lashing out, or avoiding genuine concerns voiced by fellow Republicans.
It’s time for us to get real. I’ll go first.
Cruz’s fans need no motivating, so I’ll be brief. Cruz critics, take note:
- Hillary is corrupt, and an interrogator like Ted Cruz would expose her in debate. Fiorina or Christie would too, but they’re polling far behind. Rubio? He’s persuasive, but with less heat. Bottom line: Ted’s a debate surgeon, and Hillary would be his patient.
- Ted’s consistency allows him to attack Hillary without restraint. For instance, Rubio supports sugar subsidies—corporate welfare. Carson wants increased ethanol standards—corporate welfare. Corporate Welfare is a big problem for Hillary; one Ted can attack without fearing her counterpunch. Rand Paul would also excel here.
- Along with Carson, Ted excites a ready-made grassroots army for his ground game. That’s big. Rubio, Fiorina, Huckabee, Christie—these people would all have to build one (with party support) if they secured the nomination. This gives Ted Cruz a huge leg up, and moderate Republicans would do well to recognize the benefits.
If Ted becomes our nominee, I’ll enjoy these advantages, and Party elites should stop fighting them.
A good friend of mine likes Ted’s chances, citing the passion gap between his followers and those of Hillary. It’s a valid point. Hillary boasts two modes—lifeless and shrill—leaving Democrats feeling, “Meh, it’s her turn.” Ted, meanwhile, evokes religious fervor. When I hear Ted speak, I think “Yeah! Someone gets me!” Ted awakens the grassroots in ways reminiscent of Reagan.
Cruz’s passion dynamic, however, is much different from Reagan’s. Reagan was a uniter. Though facing his own GOP divisions, Reagan’s goal was always two-fold: Advance broad, “Big Tent” passion throughout the base, and deflate passion in Democrat foes.
Cruz and his army do the opposite. Cruz supporters may bristle at this, but again, I’m sharing exactly what I see—right or wrong. We’ve no time for messing around.
An Alienated Base: Here’s my experience, especially when using cover names on blogs. Criticizing Rubio, Fiorina, Bush, Carson, or Christie (and I have) might get me some pushback. But if I’m critical of Ted Cruz, I receive hostility, name-calling, reams of pre-packaged talking points—you’d think I was bashing gay people at the Emmy’s.
Along with talk radio (which I love, by the way), this fosters much deeper resentment than Reagan faced. Sure, Reagan was opposed by moderates. These moderates, however, weren’t bashed for thousands of hours on talk radio and millions of hours on social media. Though often deserved, today’s war between the grassroots and “mushy middle” is shredding Reagan’s Big Tent.
A Motivated Opponent: Turning to the Democrats, let’s imagine six groups. The first three are those hardcore liberal young people, single women, and Hispanics. These will vote for Hillary no matter what, recruiting other voters as well. The second three are moderate-liberal young people, single women, and Hispanics. Thanks to Hillary’s charm deficit, many of these will stay home, none will recruit, and some may even switch if Hillary faces Carson or Rubio.
With Ted as our candidate, I foresee these groups storming voting booths like Normandy. Team Hillary certainly agrees, as they (along with their media sycophants) want to face Cruz. You doubt this? Look at mainstream news reports. Countless stories involve Rubio’s boat, Carson’s statements, Rubio’s credit cards, Carson’s background, etc., but we see very little on Ted Cruz. Why?
It’s obvious: If a GOP candidate receives more negative press in Leftist outlets, this lowers approval. With fewer such stories, nearly all increased name recognition is positive—especially for candidates playing to the base (like Ted). Thus, people outside the base barely know Ted (reducing negatives), while those inside know him well (raising positives). That’s why Hillary and company hammer Rubio and Carson, while mostly ignoring Ted until he secures the nomination. They want Cruz.
Despite this, the four most recent head-to-head polls (Quinnipiac, Fox, PPP, Marist) still show Rubio performing better against Hillary than Cruz, with startling consistency. In apples-to-apples polling, a Rubio matchup bests Cruz by 4, 4, 4, and 5 points—meaning if Cruz takes the nomination, we must re-win millions of votes. And remember, that’s with Rubio absorbing leftwing fire. Had Cruz received the same treatment, I wager his numbers against Hillary would trail Rubio’s by at least 8 points.
What am I saying? Simply this: Reagan’s passion gap inspired a big tent against deflated opponents, whereas Cruz inspires a smaller tent against motivated opponents. Hence my prediction of losing.
But Ted can win! We just need to get real. Looking squarely at the challenges, we can defeat them.
Winning With Ted
Beating Hillary won’t be easy for any GOP candidate, as she enjoys huge advantages. Her “First Woman President” line will play well, creating passion where her bland personality can’t. And thanks to cheap gas, Obama’s economy is being flooded with spending money (this is the biggest factor).
To help Ted stop Hillary, we must unite Republicans and reduce the anger driving Democrat turnout.
Uniting Conservatives: Many are the ways to unite our base, but here’s a big one: Don’t tell fellow Republicans we’ll stay home if their candidates win the nomination. No, I’m not being anti-principle. I’m being pro-strategy. Think about it: When we threaten to leave if their guy wins, how motivated are people if our guy wins? Answer: Not. They’re bitter, feeling cornered with ultimatums.
So if our guy seeks to lead the GOP team, we should support the GOP team. And no caveats, either. Pardon the exaggeration, but when “unity” is mentioned on social media or radio, Cruz fans really do come off like this: “I’ll support the nominee but I’m for Cruz because Ted loves the Constitution and your guy doesn’t but if I must I’ll hold my nose and vote for your guy to beat Hillary but Ted is good and Ted is pure and Ted is truth and Ted Ted Ted Ted…”
Folks, we can’t request loyalty if we won’t offer it. And if we offer it grudgingly, we’ll receive it grudgingly—or not at all. Instead, let’s say, “I support Ted, but I’ll gladly back whoever my Republican family chooses. I only ask that Ted be shown the same loyalty if he wins.” Using these words, we build massive GOP support for Ted’s general campaign against Hillary.
Let’s stop thinking small (Ted the Nominee) and start thinking big (President Ted). Let’s get strategic.
Reducing Democrat Anger: Like uniting Conservatives, there are many ways to reduce Democrat anger, so I’ll just mention one: We Republicans must avoid demanding our own liberty, and start offering liberty to others. For instance, if we say, “I want my gun rights, my secure border, my low taxes, my school choice, my my my…,” Moderates will turn on us the moment Liberals offer something for them. They’ll think, “These Conservatives care only for themselves, but Liberals put my needs first.”
Look at gun rights. Phrases like, “You’ll have to take this gun from my cold, dead hands” are legit, but they sound defensive and selfish. Switching to offering liberty, I could say, “Safety comes first, for you and your children. Since police can’t be everywhere, I want law-abiding citizens armed, so you’ll have good guys fighting back when the next madman goes off. More liberty equals more safety.”
It takes some thought, but every topic can be switched from demanding liberty to offering it (which in essence, protects our liberty as well). Before long, you’ll find many moderates and moderate-liberals enjoying your words, even when they don’t agree. It’s fun. And effective.
Remember, Ted brings some big advantages for the General Election. His debate style, consistency, and advanced ground game provide everything Romney lacked, allowing us to address other areas. So let’s address them. We just need to unite our base, not divide it. We need to lower Democrat passion, not raise it. Using strengths and honestly addressing weaknesses, we can turn 2016 into a big year—and it all starts when we stop posturing and start listening, learning…and healing.
For Ted to beat Hillary, we must get real.