Donald Trump purports to be an outsider who wants to give the “forgotten man” a seat at the table — though he has been cutting deals at that table his entire life.
Ted Cruz wants to flip the table over, fire/primary everyone sitting at it, and sell it off to pay down the national debt.
This is the fundamental choice Republicans face: support a continuation of the dealmaking, establishment status quo masquerading under the banner of “Make America Great Again,” a populist nationalism led by a Putin-admiring strongman surrounded by Putin proponents; or support a truly radical outsider who wants to dramatically shrink the size and scope of government, advance liberty, and conserve the principles on which the country was founded.
Who should be the standard-bearer of the Republican Party? If we seek to protect and preserve freedom, to whom should we entrust the positions of chief executive and commander-in-chief?
Donald Trump spent much of his life as a Democrat, handing millions of dollars to the very candidates who not only grew government but supported the policies Trump now rails against. He has chalked these campaign contributions up to being a “cost of business” — that is, he claims you simply must pay off politicians to get things done. If there was no ideological basis for his contributions, the best one can say is that Trump chose to sell out the country to progressive Democrats for his own personal gain. For decades.
Are we to believe that he now sincerely wishes to absolve himself of these sins?
Trump’s positions themselves are transparently not conservative. They are based more in temperament — toughness, strength, extracting a pound of flesh — than they are in the ideology represented by the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
Trump wants to build a wall and deport 11 million illegal immigrants — but then he wants to provide amnesty to the vast majority of them, “the good ones,” quickly thereafter.
He supports protectionist trade policies — levying tariffs that represent a massive tax on all manner of goods purchased by Americans. He is for leaving entitlements, the massive welfare state under which the federal budget will ultimately collapse, alone.
He is for socialized medicine, just not Obamacare.
Trump is for pushing people out of their homes if a developer can use the land to generate more tax revenue through the liberal use of eminent domain.
He wants America to extricate itself from the world — but he also wants to destroy ISIS. He will be “neutral” between the Israelis and the Arabs.
He believes that if abortion were outlawed, women would need to be punished for having them — precisely the position Leftists incorrectly think a conservative would take. Trump then flopped on the issue. He also supports Planned Parenthood.
These views are “heterodox,” if utterly inconsistent on their face, because they are not based on the set of coherent unifying principles called conservatism.
I believe Mr. Trump changes his positions literally mid-sentence because he has never cared to analyze these issues deeply. He has never indicated a passion for big ideas, policy, or public service: the central motivating driver for Donald Trump, as illustrated by his life and career, has been a thirst for power. With such a guide, he will say and do whatever he believes may get him elected — he indicated as much via his constant reassurance that “he can be presidential.” Chief strategist Paul Manafort has also admitted that Trump has been playing a “part” on the campaign trail.
While some of Trump’s support may be based on a belief he is going to be tough on illegal immigration — in spite of the fact that his touchback amnesty plan is still an amnesty plan — the broader question is why anyone believes a word he says on any issue. As he has said:
I’m very capable of changing to anything I want to change to.
Immovability in the face of evidence to the contrary indicates that Trump’s support in the main is about emotion over reason.
Conversely, Sen. Ted Cruz’s life has been dedicated to advancing a consistent, coherent set of conservative principles. These include individual liberty, property rights, the rule of law, and a strong, prudently used Kirkpatrick-ian defense.
At the Federal Trade Commission, Cruz advanced free market capitalism by aiming squarely at cronyism, seeking to curtail anti-competitive, government-conferred privileges and protections for incumbent businesses blocking upstart competitors.
As solicitor general of Texas, he successfully defended the Second Amendment, religious liberty, and American sovereignty over and above international law — and against the Bush administration at the Supreme Court.
As a senator, he has been the principal opponent of Obamacare.
Cruz was one of the leaders who killed the “Gang of Eight” amnesty legislation.
He has staunchly opposed intervening on behalf of “good jihadis.” He has sought to protect America and her allies against all Islamic supremacists, whether of the Shia variety in Iran or the Sunni variety in the Muslim Brotherhood and its poisonous offshoots. Critically, the foreign policy team with which Cruz has surrounded himself indicates that he understands the animating ideologies of our enemies: the jihadists, our adversaries in Russia and China, and their proxies. This understanding was sorely lacking within both Democratic and Republican administrations for decades.
On taxes, regulation, and the economy, Sen. Cruz has espoused positions that would reduce the strain of government on all Americans, abolish measures that protect one group or industry at the expense of another, and free up individuals to pursue happiness as they see it.
Cruz’s philosophy is about liberating man and shackling government. This is the real reason why Cruz is so hated by his colleagues in Congress. “Likability” is a canard meant to distract from the substantive basis on which those in Washington, D.C., actually dislike the Texas senator. The Cruz candidacy poses an existential threat to the taxpayer gravy train, their lifeblood.
The real outsider does not seek to cut better deals. He seeks to end the system whereby deals are cut and liberty eroded in the first place.
The ease with which Cruz articulates such positions on the grounds of fairness, justice, and equality before the law — while deftly handling the most difficult arguments of his ideological opponents — reflects the fact that Cruz is a true believer comfortable in his conservative skin. Unlike Republicans who lack that confidence because they have not spent time with Locke and Smith, let alone the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, Cruz’s positions indicate that he knows these arguments as well as those of Rousseau, Marx, and the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.
He has studied them, internalized them, and developed a comprehensive platform more classically liberal than any presidential candidate in at least a generation. And this is not Ivory Tower intellectualism: America is based on ideas; history repeats itself, and rhymes. Fealty to liberalism combined with sound judgment and wisdom are what make great statesmen.
The values and principles for which Ted Cruz stands are the ones on which all members of a Republican Party who believe in the American Idea should stand. This statement holds regardless of what voters say in Indiana or beyond, unless we are to have no principles at all.
Liberty and justice for all will not be achieved by self-interested dealmakers of the Trump or Clinton variety, but by those who believe in the devolution of power from the government to the people. By those who understand our rights are natural and not manmade. That America was designed as a republic, not a democracy, precisely because tyranny carried out on behalf of its willing victims is always a possibility lurking just around the corner.
To put a finer point on the comparison, Donald Trump’s election would represent the triumph of the French Revolution in America. I prefer revolution of the American variety.