Ted Cruz is not Republican moderates’ best friend. But right now, he might be their only friend.
Ted Cruz is not a lot of people’s cup of tea. For moderate Republicans and Republican-leaning independents — not just ideological moderates but people of a moderate, gradualist temperament — voting for Ted Cruz is just about the last thing they came into this primary season thinking of doing. Cruz’s reputation for ideological purism and bomb-throwing, his efforts at government shutdowns and internecine warfare against GOP leadership, and his Evangelical-preacher style turn off a lot of people who ordinarily vote Republican but don’t consider themselves Goldwater-style conservatives. Cruz’s distant third-place finish in New York — probably to be followed by similar showings in some other Northeast states today — emphasized the trouble he has in persuading moderate voters to support him. Exit polls in New York, for example, showed Donald Trump winning moderates 46–42 over John Kasich, with Cruz garnering just 13 percent, a far cry from his double-digit wins in Wisconsin and Utah.
As the Republican primary campaign rolls into its final five-week sprint, the effort to stop Donald Trump and save the GOP from disaster will depend heavily on whether moderate voters are willing to pull the lever for Cruz. Especially given the importance of the winner-take-all delegate allocations in Indiana, California, and Washington, moderates will need to abandon John Kasich and unite behind Cruz in order to defeat Trump.
Politics is a team sport, and elections are often about a choice of lesser evils. If Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, and Lindsey Graham can get behind Cruz, we have reached the point where people are well past demanding their first choice. Even as a conservative, I did not have Cruz as my first choice, nor even my second. But among the choices remaining, allow me to make the case here for why moderates in the remaining primary states should go out and vote for Cruz, both as a matter of electoral calculation and on the merits of who should be president.
One: This Election Is Too Important to Punt. The temptation to take your ball and go home — which all of us feel at least a little when our preferred choices don’t get the nomination — seems overwhelming this cycle, as Donald Trump degrades the discourse, lowers everyone around him into the mud, and generally leaves Republicans depressed about our chances in November and embittered toward other voters in our party. It’s easy and tempting to just let Trump take the nomination and the Mondale-sized defeat he’s cruising towards (see Point #3), and say “I told you so” later on.
Judge Scalia's empty chair that Obama is anxiously
awaiting to fill with a liberal
But the 2016 election is far too important for any Republican of any stripe — moderate or conservative, party stalwart or occasional party voter — to just check out. The Supreme Court — the most powerful branch of the federal government, by far — hangs in the balance, and while some moderates may not love a five-justice conservative majority, they will hate the five-justice lockstep-liberal majority that would follow a Hillary Clinton victory this fall. Obamacare, too, will be truly impossible to dislodge if the Democrats win again in 2016. And even immigration moderates should blanch at letting Obama’s unilateral executive amnesty go into effect without the input of Congress. And that’s before we get to foreign policy, a president’s most important job. Twelve years of Democratic control of the White House, with its expansive powers and massive cultural footprint, is intolerable for everyone who is not already a Democrat.
Two: Only Ted Cruz Can Stop Donald Trump. So, GOP voters need to rally around their best candidate remaining, and not surrender to despair. That means first stopping Trump.
In order to win the nomination on the first ballot at the Republican convention, you need 1,237 pledged or committed delegates. Only Trump still has a chance to get that — and only Cruz can beat him in the places needed to stop Trump. Yes, it’s theoretically possible that Kasich or even Marco Rubio or a darker-horse candidate could be selected by a divided convention — but the only way we even enter that conversation is if Trump is denied a majority of delegates. ...Read the rest of this National Review op-ed HERE.
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