I had always considered it likely that Ted Cruz, like Ronald Reagan, would not be successful his first time out. He got so much closer than I originally expected, though I was always hoping he’d make it all the way. Indiana was the one door that remained locked to him.

And I’m astounded at the blind (and evidently deaf) support that Trump has garnered. How can someone so ill-qualified, so ill-suited by dint of knowledge, temperament or experience, get the enthusiastic (and too-often vicious) support of millions of people?

In hindsight, for 2020 Ted Cruz will be well positioned no matter who gets the presidency. In 1976, Reagan lost to Gerald Ford for the nominee position, but then Ford lost to the unqualified Jimmy Carter. But I cannot help but wonder how much damage will be caused in the next four years, either by Trump’s unpredictable chaos or Clinton’s malevolence toward the country.

For that matter, how much would a President Trump damage individuals and companies? With his rather casual malevolence toward opponents, and willingness to use whatever personal destruction he can command against someone who’s in his way, he will (if he wins) have command of even more destructive power. And it troubles him not at all that his statements are false; he freely admits that his fabricated vicious attacks are merely for political purposes, meaning that someone got in his way. He never believed for a moment what he said (or what news stories he planted) about Carson and Cruz.

I expect that he will make an offer to Cruz of some position, since Trump respects him greatly and knows that what he said about Cruz was false. Unfortunately, what Cruz said about Trump’s character is quite true.

Ted Cruz’s strengths included his tremendous honesty, strong moral and Christian character, and knowledge of government and the Constitution. He had a track record of doing just what he said he would do. So Trump attacked him with a false narrative about dishonesty, and called him a serial adulterer and religious hypocrite and with going back on his promises. None of these were true, but the eager media and evidently millions of Americans bought into the lie. We’ll avoid entanglements in foreign countries but put boots on the ground in the Middle East to fight ISIS? Both of these things? He doesn’t even know what our adversaries are doing, in other than a most superficial way.

Trump’s attacks on the Republican establishment were generic and often feeble, and his vague statements about trade are utterly foolish. And in no cases were Trump’s sound-bite mantras backed by coherent policy positions.

For all Trump’s lying attacks on Cruz, he dared not attack Cruz on the Constitution, as this is an area of Trump’s own acute weakness. He gives no evidence of having even read it, and shows clear misunderstandings of how our Constitutional government system was set up and what it is (and is supposed to be) doing. Cruz would have shredded him in a debate, and millions of Americans would have seen it. That debate should have been held anyway, even with just Cruz and Kasich, so that Cruz could talk policy. There was precious little of that during this campaign that the media would carry.

Would it be good for Cruz to accept some role in Trump’s government? Perhaps, but he is going to have to be careful not to get any Trump on him.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  • And it’s not just that they cannot distinguish between the other camps, they almost don’t care that those folks exist other than that they are opposition to be attacked. There is no reality for many of the early supporters other than the perceptions they developed from 14 years of reality TV. (I only recently learned how long The Apprentice was on; I’ve never seen the show.)

    Perhaps the Trump effect will spread. But Trump’s own positions are spreading, and I’m astounded at how quickly he is abandoning his faux-conservative posture. I just don’t think that even that will affect his early supporters much.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  • I am in large agreement with you.

    I’m not sure if ALL the congressmen that have endorsed Trump are REALLY populists (I thought Jeff Sessions is a constitutionalist, for example).

    One additional factor to considered is the pressure that the GOBs can apply by dint of their position upon the Constitutionalist. Or even the Angry Popularists, through fewer of those are in Congress. It is rather sad to consider that people of principle succumb to pressure, but the evidence is clear.

    In fact, what has made Ted Cruz such a striking figure is that he HAS resisted that pressure. The pressure is both carrot and stick, and involves committee roles and other perks as well as avoidance of all the wrath that the head honchos can bring to bear. They point to Ted Cruz on the cross of GOB wrath and intone “there but for the grace of us go you.” Jeff Sessions and certain others have bent to this pressure, it seems, as his prior unofficial support for Ted Cruz was a bridge too far for the bosses.

    But then look at Lindsay Graham. The new official line is “we support Trump as close enough ā€” we can’t buy him but we’ve got hints that he’ll buy us. So go along.” But his tepid Cruz endorsement has got him in trouble, and everyone’s guns turned on him. How sad to think of Graham as having a more principled position that Sessions.

    Like you, I’ve been disappointed and surprised by a number of the Trump supporters. But now that the choices have been foreclosed (as Cruz put it), many of us will become Trump supporters.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  • JeffR

    Hi Keith. I agree with everything you said about how Trump and Cruz have conducted themselves. So I’d just like to comment on something near the beginning of your article that you didn’t go into much further:

    “And Iā€™m astounded at the blind (and evidently deaf) support that Trump has garnered. How can someone so ill-qualified, so ill-suited by dint of knowledge, temperament or experience, get the enthusiastic (and too-often vicious) support of millions of people?”

    I have become convinced of something about the perceptions of the GOP primary voters, and it may help answer your question. Let me describe my theory. It starts with a premise that the GOP today is divided into 3 camps (On yesterday’s Andrew Klavan Show, Episode 118, Klavan interviewed a guest that named 4 camps, but two of that guy’s camps are similar so it easily collapses down to my simpler three): Establishment Good Ol’ Boys; Constitutional Originalists; and Angry Populists.

    The Establishment Good Ol’ Boys (“GOBs”) include Boehner, McConnell, McCain, Romney, the Bushes, Steve King, Eric Cantor, Lindsay Graham, etc. Mark Levin calls them the Repubicans (intentional missing L) and says they are Republican progressives that “say” they’re for smaller government but rarely act like it. Most of the Senators and Representatives that have been in office more than about a decade are probably in this camp to one degree or another, due to the corrupting influence of incumbancy. They’re either knowingly/willingly or blindly addicted to crony capitalism. The GOBs fully recognize and can distinguish between the other two camps. You can tell because they overtly hate Cruz for one set of reasons, and they hate Trump for a separate set of reasons. However, when it comes to the GOP primary voters, I don’t think there are very many Establishment GOBs out in the electorate any more. That’s why none of the moderates in the GOP field caught on.

    The Constitutional Originalists include Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and the Tea Party-oriented members of the Freedom Caucus. They’re adherents to the Ronald Reagan, Larry Arnn, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, Dennis Prager -style of limited government as a societal philosophy. Because their views and actions are anchored in a set of principles, they are able to recognize and be critical of the GOP’s Establishment GOBs. Regarding the voters in this category, there are plenty of them — you and me and many of the bloggers we chat with. All the pundits at National Review, and many of the conservative talk radio hosts (Hewitt, Medved, Klavan, Shapiro, Beck, Levin, Prager) are in this camp. We certainly can distinguish the difference between ourselves and the GOBs and the Angry Populists.

    The Angry Populists include Trump (of course), Pat Buchanan, Sarah Palin, Jan Brewer, Sheriff Arpaio, etc. I’m not sure if ALL the congressmen that have endorsed Trump are REALLY populists (I thought Jeff Sessions is a constitutionalist, for example). I think they’re really GOBs that endorsed Trump because they foresaw that Cruz wouldn’t be able to make it to the finish (because of the stigma that has so effectively been attached to him by the GOBs). Among pundits, there’s Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter. Laura Ingraham surprised me — I thought she is a constitutionalist. I think most of these politicians and pundits can distinguish the difference between the 3 camps. Like you said, Trump has been smart enough to avoid challenging Cruz directly about the Constitution — which mean Trump realizes he’s ignorant of the Constitution and that Cruz is an accomplished student of it. However, I will now (finally) make my main point: I firmly believe that among the GOP primary voters who back Trump so zealously, the vast majority of them cannot distinguish between the other two camps. The Trump voters are almost all oblivious to the difference between the GOBs and the Constitutionalists. Trump’s angry populist voters are not sophisticated observers of the political arena. Many of them are (thankfully) blue-collar tradesmen that are waking up to the lies of the left and deciding that perhaps it’s time to stop voting for the Democrats. Of course they don’t get constitutionalism — they were never properly taught about it in public schools. Yet they are instinctively aware that something is screwed up with the left’s ideology because it’s not helping them. They’re tired of losing their jobs to illegal immigrants or to cheap imported goods (or they’re perfectly willing to accept that explanation as a scapegoat for their economic stagnation). Trump has captured their anger with his opportunistic populism. In their minds, you’re either FOR Trump or your AGAINST Trump. If you’re a GOP voter that’s against Trump, then you’re part of the problem and “you just don’t get it” (as my sister-in-law comments on my FB page every time I post something pro-Cruz or anti-Trump).

    They believe Trump every time he says that Cruz is a liar and a hypocrite, because they don’t know better. They’re unsophisticated political neophytes. I’ve recently realized that one of the several reasons I stopped writing new articles on my blog last October is that since these populist neophytes can’t distinguish principled originalism from establishment cronyism, I am wasting my time trying to reach those that need to hear it most. Sure, it’s kinda fun to preach to the choir, but only for so long. Almost everyone that reads my blog already agrees with true conservatism, and don’t need changing. So I lost most of my motivation to put energy into persuasion.

    Your friend,
    – Jeff