I was proud to endorse Ted Cruz several weeks ago, so I obviously could not be more pleased with the caucus results last night in Iowa.
It is only the first step in a long process, but it was a remarkable step. Under circumstances where conventional wisdom said a turnout in excess of the previous record 122,000 caucus-goers would be a boon for Donald Trump and spell doom for Senator Cruz, the turnout record was demolished – it appears that over 182,000 attended – yet Cruz won comfortably. Indeed, he earned more caucus votes than any candidate in history.
The most significant aspect of this is that Ted is a conservative running as a conservative – not in the modern mold of a Republican who thinks he can make big government work more efficiently, but in the Reaganite mold that sees government as the problem. This is tougher terrain than it was in the 1980s because the country is not as solidly center-right as it was then. But principles are not trend lines. If they fall out of fashion, it is not because they’ve been discredited; it is because leaders stop advocating them – because they’ve been seduced by Washington and have lost interest in stripping Washington down to size.
For too long, the Republican approach to elections has been to shift the party to where its leaders believe segments of the public are – reminiscent of the Democrats’ identity politics. We’re told conservatism cannot work, that our principles must bend to accommodate new thinking … even if much of that thinking, however well-intentioned, is premised on false narratives and hopelessly flawed central-planning schemes.
The dismal result and the public outrage over it was patent last night. If we combine the tally of Cruz, Trump, Carson, Paul and Fiorina, seven of every ten votes went against the party establishment. If we factor in that, not long ago, Rubio won his senate seat as a tea party-supported upstart, it may be more like eight or nine of every ten votes.
More than any outsider, though, Senator Cruz is attempting to move the public to our principles – even if it means taking on ethanol in the den of ethanol – because those principles can improve the lives of all Americans, regardless of group identity. In a time when progressivism is failing us, spectacularly, in government, the economy, the international arena, and the culture, Ted is campaigning to defeat it, not to fix it.
Up until last night, the question about such a campaign was: Can he win? Now, the question is: Will he win? That is no guarantee of victory – far from it. But it is a big and vital step in the right direction.