PICK YOUR POISON: Ted Cruz, at a campaign stop in Van Buren earlier this year.
Matthew Yglesias at Vox writes convincingly
about why Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
is the Republican Party's "last, best hope" in 2016 as a Donald Trump
Yglesias is no Republican partisan or Cruz cheerleader, of course. He's simply approaching the increasingly alarming GOP presidential primary with the mind of a strategist.
While it's no secret that Republican Party insiders intensely dislike Cruz, Yglesias argues, that's mostly for personal reasons rather than ideological ones: His time in the Senate has been defined by grandstanding that comes at his colleagues' expense. He's burned bridges at an incredible rate. Yet if he were president, there's no doubt he'd push a hard-right agenda in line with most congressional Republicans' sympathies. In contrast, there's really no telling what Donald Trump would do if he were in charge, given that he's never had a clear political identity as a genuine conservative before this election cycle:
Either Trump or Cruz would likely make for a weak general election candidate. But with Cruz, the worst-case scenario is the GOP does poorly in 2016 and lives to fight another day. The best-case scenario is he wins and implements an orthodox conservative agenda. With Trump, winning the election might actually be worse than losing — it would mean a fundamental change in the nature of the party and who leads it. A basic loss of control over the coalition by the people who've been running it for a generation. Beating Trump absolutely has to be job number one.
Thus, if you're an establishment Republican, as much as you may despise Ted Cruz, it's looking increasingly possible that you might need
him even more than you hate him:
What is needed, in essence, is an evangelical Christian with orthodox conservative views on immigration and economic policy. Which is to say that what's needed is Scott Walker. But Walker's campaign already crashed and burned for reasons that are mysterious even in retrospect. That's left the party establishment with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio as flawed champions. Flawed in part because their political personas overlap to such a degree that they undermine each other. But flawed most of all because as non-evangelicals with significant track records of ideological deviation on immigration, they simply don't have an obvious route toward eating away at Cruz's support among the Christian right and the ideologically rigid.
By contrast, Cruz clearly could pick up the votes that are currently going to Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and Chris Christie if more establishment-minded figures started swinging behind his campaign.
Vox also writes today about the Trump- Cruz detente breaking down
, as Trump begins lobbing his typically lunatic barbs in the Texas senator's direction. "I do like Ted Cruz, but not a lot of evangelicals come out of Cuba ... But I like him nonetheless," he told a crowd of Iowa evangelicals.
Anyway, I say all this in part to pose a question to blog readers. What about you? If the choice actually does come down to Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, who would you rather see as the Republican nominee? How about ... President of the United States of America? Discuss.