Ted Cruz: Our Last, Best Hope

America needs something better than a feedback loop for popular resentment. We need a real leader. America's elite is arrogant and corrupt, but the state of the American people is just as alarming. America had 90% adult literacy in 1790, when only half of Englishmen and a fifth of Spaniards and Italians could sign their names. We had the best educated, most motivated, and healthiest workforce in the world by an overwhelming margin.

Now Americans aged 16 to 24 rank at the bottom of a 22-country evaluation of numeracy, literacy, and technological problem-solving.

Poor student performance should be no surprise: America's family structure is falling apart. Nearly 30% of non-Hispanic white children are born out of wedlock, as well as 53% of Hispanics and 73% of African-Americans. When Reagan took office, 18% of all American births were to unmarried mothers. By 2014 the figure was above 40%.

Catch-up ball doesn't begin to describe our predicament. We need nothing short of a great national turnaround. There are two Republican candidates who made clear from the outset that it isn't business as usual -- Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Another Romney wouldn't be relevant.

Our elites, to be sure, have sold us down the river. There's unlimited capital for investors to buy foreclosed homes, while half of Americans can't raise a down payment or qualify for a home mortgage. The Pentagon and the defense contractors slated a trillion dollars for the F-35, the biggest lemon in the history of military aviation, crowding out every other acquisition program in the military. Our tech companies have become a conspiracy to suppress innovation, managed by patent trolls instead of engineers. The financial industry ran the biggest scam in history, the subprime bubble of the 2000s, and the Obama administration hasn't sent a single miscreant to jail (it just slapped multi-billion dollar fines on the banks' stockholders, that is, your pension fund or 401k). The Clintons are a criminal enterprise, as Peter Schweizer showed in his book Clinton Cash. The foreign policy establishment treated the world like a giant social experiment and wasted blood and treasure to make the world safe for democracy.

The result is the most corrupt and cartelized economy in American history. For the first time since numbers were kept, new business has contributed next to nothing to employment recovery since 2009, as I reported here March 2. But Donald Trump encourages magical thinking. Repeating, "We're going to make America great again" by kicking out Mexican illegals and repatriating jobs from China is nonsense.

Our elites are rotten, but the people are hurting and confused. After the generation of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, America has done a terrible job of forming elites. But we still need leaders who can uplift us, teach us, and inspire us. Self-educated outsiders like Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan have been our ablest leaders, not the valedictorians of Harvard or Yale. Lincoln might have been self-educated, but he was the best thinker of his generation. Reagan also was self-taught, but he had a broad and detailed grasp of foreign policy and understood Robert Mundell's supply-side economics early on. They were also profoundly good men.