Postmodern Conservative

Trump and Cruz Triumphant?

So the news today includes an article saying that the anti-Trump Republican establishment is disorganized and under-funded. It wouldn’t be much different, as I keep saying, if it were organized and funded.

We also read that Rubio is way under-organized in Iowa, relying more on commercials than on a ground game. That turns out to be a typical establishment error. Rubio’s path to victory is mighty unclear now. He’s been out-hustled, to say the least.

Pete S. below is certainly right that it’s hard to criticize Cruz for not attacking Trump. That Jeb (“Jebra” – SNL) approach just doesn’t work. The approach of allying with Trump, learning from him, and being less different from him than the other candidates does work. Cruz is obviously much more free-market (Club of Growth) than Trump, and much more socially conservative than Trump. He’s also a moderate on immigration, by comparison.

So obviously the donor class is fine with Cruz, regarding the immigration and “values” heresies as relatively unimportant. So, in that sense, Cruz likely saves the establishment from itself.

Now someone might say (as does stalwart conservative Representative Tom McClintock) that the Freedom Caucus in the House is, in effect, allied with Nancy Pelosi. The cry “no compromise” might stick the “responsible” Republican leadership with the choice between ”cave” and ”shut down” when it comes to omnibus spending bills. But the truth seems to be that Ryan’s cave was too complete for that excuse to stick. And the result was probably a fatal discrediting — in the eyes of primary and caucus voters — of the Rubio–Ryan brand. The highlighting of “crisis” and the disparaging of “compromise” don’t seem to me all that empirical or even inspirational. In any case, Republicans can become reformers only when they gain the presidency.

Pete, as usual, highlighted the key component of the “political suicide.” It’s giving visas to all those low-skilled, non-immigrant “guest workers.” Rubio’s somewhat gutsy effort to develop an alternative brand on immigration in the debate focused on citizenship, not guest workers. The latter is crony-capitalist/oligarchic talk. 

On foreign policy, we see especially the Cruz–Trump alliance: Trump’s message is against both President Bush the younger’s rash interventionism (and in some measure Obama’s too) and President Obama’s feckless weakness. Both extremes are dangers to national security properly understood. Cruz jumped on board by attacking “neocons.” That has provoked a counterattack from those sometimes called neocons. And, given that their brand is exhausted, that attack serves Cruz’s purposes. He’s insulated from the charge of being antisemitic (which charge could have hurt him among Evangelicals) by his fervent support of Israel. Cruz and Trump obviously can’t be confused with isolationists, although Rand Paul might say they’re less likely than Rubio or Christie to start World War III.

Peter Augustine LawlerPeter Augustine Lawler is Dana Professor of Government at Berry College. He is executive editor of the acclaimed scholarly quarterly Perspectives on Political Science and served on President George ...

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