Sunday, March 6, 2016

The State of the Party

I don't have a lot of time for blogging this time of year but I wanted to express some brief thoughts on the state of the Republican primary.  

This week, it appears that Donald Trump's bubble has started to burst just as Ted Cruz has started to rise and Rubio has spiraled into a free fall.  On the one hand, I can't help but be encouraged that someone is able to occasionally beat Trump, and so maybe his path to the nomination isn't so assured after all.

But on the other hand, I'm disappointed that the Grand Old Party would nominate someone like Ted Cruz or Donald Trump when we have a perfectly good Marco Rubio or John Kasich ripe for the picking.

I've always liked John Kasich.  I used to watch his show Heartland on Fox News (it was a little boring but he was thoughtful and serious).  By all accounts he has been a successful and popular governor in Ohio.  He is somewhat moderate on issues like immigration, welfare, and gay marriage, all of which I give him kudos for.

Marco Rubio is quite conservative, and his record is almost identical to Ted Cruz's.  But the greatest show of his character was the so-called Gang of Eight bill on immigration for which he has been heavily criticized by the Tea Party wing of the party.  It's a shame that he has to run from that record.  Since when did compromise become a dirty word?  I applaud him for both having principles and being able to work with others to get things done.

Which brings me to Ted Cruz.  I don't think Cruz would be the end of our country as we know it, but I don't like his unwillingness to compromise.  If you believe that compromise is always bad, then the only way you will ever get your way is with unanimous consent.  That is a recipe for gridlock, aka Washington, D.C. since circa 2010.

I think Trump is dangerous because he is a populist demagogue and his positions are not just flexible but indiscernible.  It's possible he could be a great leader and an exemplary compromiser domestically and tough negotiator internationally; if he wins, I hope that's the case.  But instead, he could be a tyrant that abuses his power to unfairly target his political enemies, as he is constantly and openly threatening to do (look no further than his hostage Chris Christie's aides for an example of how this might play out).  

I don't know which Trump we'll get because he is very vague when he talks about his plans.  But what I do know is that he preys on our primal fears of people who are different from us, then channels that fear to gain popularity and support.  That scares me because while he isn't beholden to his supporters' money, he has assembled a dangerous coalition that welcomes (however small these groups may be proportionally of his overall support) racists and bigots.  Trump actually does what Al Gore unfairly accused George Bush of doing.  Build a wall?  Ban Muslims?  Is this guy serious?  Is the Republican Party serious?

So if I had to choose between Cruz and Trump, I'd pick Cruz because at least I know what I'm getting.  But now I know how conservative Republicans felt when the more moderate McCain and Romney won in 2008 and 2012.  I guess I'm getting a taste of my own medicine.  This isn't my party; Cruz isn't my nominee.  I never thought I'd say this, but it's going to be a tough decision in November.

All I can do is hope there's still time for the party to come to its senses and restore sanity to the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Reagan.


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