The case for Ted Cruz to be president of the United States is a strange blend of ideology and opportunity. As the GOP contest to represent the party in the November election continues to be dominated by the infamous Donald J. Trump, it is important to note that most Republicans have not been overcome by the New Yorker’s inflammatory rhetoric. Those who realize that the correct balance needs to be struck between the anti-establishment furor that has fueled Trump’s surprising run and the moderate demureness that has kept the likes of John Kasich afloat are backing the only candidate that can still capture the nomination and beat Hillary Clinton. That man is Texas Senator Rafael “Ted” Cruz.
I’ve already denoted my distaste for Trump, Sanders, and Clinton in previous statements, but have neglected to reveal who I would in fact support (aside from concurring with the #NeverTrump moniker). The man who I would support, both in the primaries and hopefully in the general election, is Ted Cruz.
I’ll be honest, Ted Cruz was not my first choice for the job. Cruz had said some controversial things in the past, has a poor relationship with the half of the Republican Party that (usually) controls the purse strings, and just in general was not (and again, being honest, is not) a good looking guy. Ted Cruz also comes from Texas, a state as red as can be, and one that regardless of whether or not he is the nominee will vote GOP in the fall. And truthfully, his Canadian birth could also become an issue somewhere along the line.
Yet despite all of this (some superficial, some not) Ted Cruz has many positive attributes, both as a candidate and a working politician. He has not been in the national spotlight long, which gives him credence as an outsider. Yet, there is no denying he is an intelligent individual, having graduated from Harvard University, argued cases before the Supreme Court, and served as Texas Solicitor General from 2003 to 2008. His Hispanic heritage would be a strong draw in competitive states against the Democrats in the fall, such as Nevada, Florida, and New Mexico. More specifically, his Cuban heritage would give him real credibility in dealing with the newly shifted reality of Cuban-American relations, whichever way an administration of his might split on that issue. And in addition to that, he has shown time and again that he can corral socially conservative/Christian-oriented voters as an ardent adherent to the faith.
However, most importantly, and as I said before, Cruz can strike a balance between the incessant anger that has bolstered Trump and the pleasant face that Kasich supporters enjoy. This middle ground is critical in the campaigning that will occur in the next few weeks for the GOP nomination. Consider the possible outcomes: whether by contested convention or through hitting the magical 1,237 delegates, if Donald Trump wins the nomination, some 50-60% of the party will revolt and break for either Hillary or an as yet unnamed third-party candidate. If John Kasich (or some other faceless establishment fill-in) wins the nomination through a contested convention, the 30-40% of Trump supporters will either stay home or stick with The Donald (presuming he then runs third-party).
The only individual, at this point, that can truly fuse together a solid 100% of the Republican Party and hold it through the general election is Ted Cruz. As previously stated, Cruz is an outsider. His colleagues in the Senate hate him, both left and right. They hate him for much the same reason they hate Trump: he can be abrasive, speaks his mind, and truly doesn’t care what anyone thinks of it. Why else would he call Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a “liar” and accuse him and fellow leadership in the House of being a part of the “Washington cartel”? In any other election cycle, such comments would likely have proved fatal to a campaign like Cruz’s months ago. Yet, when Trump has made extreme insults the norm, Cruz seems to fit right in. Ironically, it’s the very presence of Trump that has and will send men just like Mitch McConnell to the aid of Cruz.
In a very Machiavellian way, Donald Trump has recognized the sentiment that in some cases, it is better to be feared than loved. Yet, though Machiavelli cautioned that a given leader should not let fear turn to hate, Trump seems to have breezed by that portion. Such is why he has capped himself at 40% of the GOP vote, and will likely cap himself at no more than 40-45% of the vote in a general election against Clinton. Ted Cruz, however, seems to be an astute student of Machiavelli: he’s taped that same kind of anger with a swelling bravado (the fear) but his Christian regiment has made him also appear as a wholesome figure (eschewing the hate).
In addition, Cruz does not have skeletons in his closet (at least none that anyone is aware of) and as such would be able to place himself above the mud-slinging that accompanies every modern campaign, and rightfully so. Trump’s affairs and distasteful treatment of women has made those on the left sneer and Clinton’s felonious activity from her time as Secretary of State (and before) has made the right livid. Cruz carries none of that. No baggage that presents an immediate disqualifier to the office.
At the end of the day though, aside from the politicking and nitpicking that accompanies any election on any level, Ted Cruz’s biggest draw is his conservatism. He presents something refreshing when put alongside the worn-out liberalism that has dominated this country for the last eight years and the ridiculous populism that Donald Trump is proposing. While I don’t agree with Cruz on every point, his overarching message has been consistent: limited government, low taxes, and a strong American presence on the world stage. All things that have been missing from the Obama administration and all that would reverse the stagnate climate that we now live in. Cruz would be a decisive voice in a world of extremism.
In all, Ted Cruz might not be the perfect candidate. But he is the right candidate at the right moment. The moment is now.