Does the GOP Establishment Think Ted Cruz Is a RINO in Conservative Sheep’s Clothing?

Conservatives aren’t as stark raving mad as the media loves to claim — painting them as enraged yahoos clinging to guns and religion as a means of marginalizing them — but rather, conservatives are supremely disappointed by a party that rewards its support with betrayal time and time again. It would be the definition of insanity for grassroots voters to continue doing the same thing over and over again at the ballot box, pulling the lever for the generic Republican candidate and expecting a different outcome.

Which again brings us to Ted Cruz and the slights of his Republican adversaries. Every person running for president need be somewhat ”slick,” if slick means an ability to garner wide enough political support to be considered a serious competitor for the presidency.

Every person running for president need be somewhat egotistical, if not narcissistic, to have the confidence and belief that he should be commander-in-chief of the greatest nation in the world's history.

Certainly, every person running for president need be ambitious enough to do what is necessary to rise through the ranks of power, and surely it must have been his or her aim to rise to the Oval Office for a number of years. Or did Bill Clinton just store away a picture with John F. Kennedy so he would have a fun souvenir for his grandkids?

Given that this is the reality of politics, does the D.C. Republican political class honestly believe that Marco Rubio does not share these traits? How about Jeb Bush? Or Chris Christie?

While it may be that Cruz personally grates on the GOP establishment because he challenges them and won't play ball, perhaps its key concern is that it feels that his conservatism is out of the mainstream, thus making him unelectable in a general election. If so, the establishment should make that case to the GOP primary voters — at this writing it should be noted, Cruz falls within the margin of error or better against presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in a general election.

Cruz has not specifically laid out his general election strategy, but from what we do know, it appears he is in fact echoing that of President Obama. Cruz intends to activate the most ideological part of the party base via micro-targeting, drastically increasing conservative voter turnout, rather than catering to the "middle." This challenges the conventional wisdom, and it may prove unsuccessful.

But in light of the past, the burden of proof rests on the GOP establishment to show that its strategy is any better. For it has nominated Mitt Romney and John McCain in the last two presidential elections, and seen many of its candidates successfully primaried. Resorting to ad hominem attacks against Cruz is neither a necessary nor sufficient argument for why the GOP establishment's heretofore losing formula will work in this election.

If not truly an issue of character or "electability," perhaps Republican opposition to Cruz is attributable to something else. Could it be that Republicans think that as a consequence of his being a cunning political animal Senator Cruz is a RINO in conservative sheep's clothing, seeking to dupe voters into falling for the same old milquetoast presidential candidate? Or does it come down to fear that Cruz might actually win the presidency and govern as a conservative? Perhaps it is not really about his "slickness," narcissism or ambition, but rather that all of these traits combined with his intellect might enable the most conservative candidate to triumph, even in a center-left country. If this is the case, why should a Republican Party that rests on a conservative base be afraid? Does the party not share the values and principles of its voters? Does the party feel that a conservative president threatens its political power? Does the party fear retribution?

These are questions that our party elders and their consultants ought to answer. Inquiring conservative minds would like to know.