Saturday, March 05, 2016

Race for the White House Volume 62

Today is being called "Super Saturday" which came after Super Tuesday and it is nearly impossible to remember and discuss and analyze every development for the two Democrats and now four Republicans remaining in the Presidential race. Things are changing quickly and often looking different between state to state.

I have been doing these entries for three election cycles now, every Saturday, and at this point, all the fun and joy that I would have from writing about Presidential politics is pretty much gone. I definitely have not thrown in the towel in the hopes that an honorable Republican might become President in November, but the state of affairs is a bit depressing. The stakes are serious and while there are some signs in the voting today that an anti-Trump vote might possibly be solidifying, it is hard to be too confident in that right now, nor is the thought of Ted Cruz becoming potentially the last remaining obstacle of Trump destroying the Republican Party overly comforting. Nonetheless, my objective at this point, more so than electing a President I might really like or even defeating the Democrats must be to stop Donald Trump, by any legal means necessary, of conducting a hostile and perhaps fatal takeover of the political party I have believed in and fought for since I was a child.

There is no reason in the world why a postmortem for the Grand Old Party should even be under consideration. After the last midterm elections, Republicans hold more offices across the country since any time in perhaps close to 100 years. There is every reason to think that the Presidential election of 2016 is winnable, with any credible Republican. Democrat turnout in the primaries is way down, across the country, and their all but certain nominee has struggled to a larger extent that continues to be imagined, in those primaries, with the exception of near unanimous support among African-American Democrats. Yes, Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders in South Carolina yesterday by an even wider margin than anyone thought, but on Tuesday, while she continued to wrack up wins, Sanders also scored victories in all four regions of the country. During all this time, Secretary Clinton remains under federal investigation, though she openly denies it. The person who set up her private email server has accepted an immunity deal from the government though. That ought to feel at least somewhat ominous to Clinton suppoters.

Yet, in spite of all of this, if Donald Trump is nominated, I cannot imagine any other outcome but a landslide win by the Democrats and serious GOP casualties in down ballot races across the country, with a divided party. Clearly, many candidates and incumbents would never support Trump if he is the nominee, and they will have my complete respect and support. Regardless how bad the alternatives are, and how unworthy of votes they may be, there is no possible moral excuse I could ever find in casting a vote for Trump.

Basically, Republicans are in a position in hoping for a brokered or open convention at this time, when the party meets in Cleveland. There will ugliness and repercussions whatever they way that would be resolved, but Trump must be denied and we will deal with what comes after. If we have to lose an election this year, better that, than have Trump in the history books of having been selected by Republicans, and if the GOP survives, having Democrats use that against us for the next 100 years.

There is no way that I can be profound or eloquent about any of this. I feel like I am just writing an angry screed week after week, which is why I wonder why I am even doing this. This is still a battle worth fighting though. By this time next week, I plan to have cast my early vote in Illinois, and while I certainly want to vote for one of the remaining GOP candidates, and while I find two of them perfectly acceptable in terms of the general election and being President, I will have to vote strategically in an anti-Trump way. Ted Cruz, after having some positive results on Super Tuesday, is seeming to do well today, and if that continues on Tuesday, I may have to at least consider the horrific possibility of voting for him, just to stop Trump. I compare it to a starving man in the middle of nowhere being forced to eat roadkill, just to live.

In order to deny Trump, it is clear that Republicans need to vote strategically. It occurred to me a long time ago that, considering they are winner take all states on March 15, John Kasich has to win Ohio and Marco Rubio has to win Florida. I do not see Rubio doing anything to try to compete in Ohio, but both Kasich and Cruz are not backing off of Florida and that greatly disappoints me. They see the opportunity to knock Rubio out of the race, even if it means that Trump becomes even more likely as the nominee. They should think otherwise. This is serious business. The latest GOP debate on Thursday night was close to a disgrace for our party. I put all the blame on Trump for getting us into that situation, but it just makes us all look bad. Kasich will get plaudits for being the "adult in the room", but I still find it hard to imagine him winning any states outside of Ohio. Cruz was quite effective in the debate, but can ever demonstrate strength outside of Texas and away from states with heavy Evangelical voting? Marco Rubio, who has been battling the flu, did decent in the debate, but Trump talked over him at many points and the kind of insults and innuendo between them on the campaign trail and into the debate are really pretty ridiculous. I think Rubio is right to have stood up to a bully and if he wants to make fun of Trump's hands, that is fine with me. The evidence on Super Tuesday was mixed, as Rubio (who won his first contest in Minnesota), did better than expected via the polling, including a strong second in Virginia, but all the getting into the much with the pig named Trump is probably hurting Rubio's cause as well. There are some signs that Cruz, who is second in the delegate count, may have the anti-Trump conservatives moving towards him. If that continues, there will be increase calls for Rubio to leave the race and perhaps cut a deal with Cruz.

So, as depressing of a week politically as it has felt, I do think there were two moments this past week that made me proud to be a Republican and a conservative. They  both came from men named MR. I would be happy to vote for either or both of them, in some capacity, this November.

Mitt Romney, the 2012 nominee, should be President and seeking reelection today. He should have run regardless and the other hopefuls, including Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio should have deferred to him. That did not happen though and we are in the mess we are in. He gave a speech in Utah this past week that received a large amount of media attention. While he knew the childlike insults from Trump would be coming and while he knew that many voices on the right would declare that Romney was irrelevant and would only help Trump's cause, he spoke out for what is right and I am glad he did. Governor Romney knew he had to look his grandchildren in the face and had them know that he did what he could to stop Trump. He laid out a brutal but concise argument against Trump, on both the issues, and on the topic of Trump's character and temperament as to why he should not be the Republican nominee. He urged Republicans to vote strategically for Rubio, Kasich, and Cruz, while not endorsing any of them. The candidates, to my disappointment, have not called up to support that effort, but the voters might be doing so, and it looks like it could be working out for Cruz today, after a massive win over Trump in Kansas, and him currently leading in Maine.  Kentucky and Louisiana are yet to be determined as will be a handful of contests tomorrow leading all the way up until a week from Tuesday when so much is on the line in Florida and Ohio.

Cruz was the winner of this weekend's CPAC Straw Poll, with Trump a distant third. He dropped out of the event at the last moment, after it was clear that there would be anti-Trump demonstrations conducted by the young conservative crowd.

Since his speech, Romney made it clear that he could not vote for Trump, while to my further disappointment, including after pretty effective attacks against Trump by Cruz and Rubio in the debate, all three of the other GOP candidates have said they would support Trump in a general election if he were the nominee. He returned the favor. Perhaps they just all think they have no choice but to say that now, but I am completely aboard the Never Trump Movement. This is about denying him the delegates needed, and taking it to the convention. I will be honest and say my ideal nominee in that situation will be Mitt Romney. I think it is fair to say that Romney is at least cognizant of what might happen down the road if the convention is contested.

Nonetheless, Romney did not run for President in the primaries and Rubio did. As readers know, my first choice was Jeb Bush, but Rubio earned the right to consolidate the anti-Trump (and anti-Cruz at the time) vote after the first three contests. Since then, it has not gone as well for Rubio as some might hope, despite the fact that at least up until today he was winning late deciding voters in the contests. If Rubio cannot find a way to win his home state of Florida, his campaign will have to have been considered a failure and all those who talked him up for months as a GOP version of Obama and some sort of political phenom will have to answer. Of course, at that point, our party will have bigger problems.

The Marco Rubio I saw today at the CPAC conference (where he finished 2nd in the Straw Poll) was fantastic though and someone I would be proud to vote for to be President, as I still intend to do in my state's primary. Despite battling what still appears to be some illness, he laid out an optimistic, inclusive vision of America and spoke as to how Reagan conservatism can save our economy, our culture, and keep America as the leader of the world. The crowd was incredibly supportive, especially as it came to their opposition of Trump. While more people might have been for Cruz, Rubio did himself proud. I felt much the same way about how conservatism is needed and why America is special from Rubio today as I did when I would watch Jack Kemp speak to the conference on television when I was a teenager.

Ideally, Marco Rubio can still be the GOP nominee, but honesty propels me to say that it is looking tougher for him now than it did two weeks ago. A lot of sober voters may just think he is too young and not experienced enough to be Commander in Chief. With that in mind, he might make a great running-mate at the convention for Mitt Romney. The two of them, working alongside Speaker Paul Ryan would be a great team for America.

Will we ever be that lucky though? Pessimism feels real. The Republican Party is fracturing before our eyes and I do not know what the end strategy to fix it will be. Throughout political history, there have been episodes like this before though and parties prove able to bounce back. This feels dangerous though. I really hope that the GOP, which began as an anti-slavery party in 1854 might not be destroyed from within due to the influence of a dangerous con man who is not really a Republican.

He must be defeated and must be stopped. If it takes a "Civil War" in the party, so be it. Some things are worth fighting for. The first Republican President knew that necessity in order to preserve the Union and presided over a real Civil War. In 2016, the Party of Lincoln must have the same mindset. Preserving the party and saving our name against the forces of racism, hatred, division, and general fraud must be our purpose. At least in this "Civil War", nobody is shooting at each other thus far.


At 7:00 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Cruz wins KS. He's leading in ME.

Trump leading in KY & polls close in LA!


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