In the wake of the South Carolina primary results, the hyperbole is intense from the media and elsewhere. Let’s stop, take a deep breath and get a grip. Donald Trump, despite the declarations of the talking heads at CNN and elsewhere, has about 5% of the delegates necessary to win the nomination. These same people say no one who has won New Hampshire and South Carolina has ever failed to win the GOP nomination. Then they also note that this election and process is like no other. So which is it? Will the final result defy history or will history prevail in the oddest process in history?
It is painfully obvious that most intelligent people here and elsewhere realize- and rightfully so- that a Donald Trump candidacy against Hillary Clinton would be entertaining, but a disaster not only for the Republican Party, but for conservatism in general. That is because most intelligent people here and elsewhere know that Donald Trump is not a conservative despite his recent epiphany. Other writers have done this subject excellent service in itemizing his many changes in positions, how his current statements do not square with his past, and how he is devoid of specifics on important questions. They need not be rehashed here.
This situation has an analogy in international affairs- the mess in Syria. Most Americans agree, and rightfully, that ISIS is the immediate threat. They also realize that Bashir Assad is a brutal dictator and that Syria would be better off if he was deposed militarily or diplomatically (preferably the latter). The bottom line is that we take care of the immediate threat first- ISIS.
Think of Donald Trump as the ISIS of the Republican Party. The Rubio and Cruz camps are like a President who is at odds with their military experts. While they hem and haw and fight each other, the immediate threat (Trump) and the overall threat (Clinton) thrive and go about their business. The infighting between Cruz and Rubio serves only two people- Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
That is why they must realize that Donald Trump needs to be stopped at all costs first. Unfortunately, given his second place finish in Iowa and his victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina, Trump is not even being contained at this time. And just as it is better to take the fight to ISIS there, rather than here, the fight must be taken to Trump. For example, we know that his supporters are low-information voters who thrive on soundbites. Rubio and Cruz should be focusing their advertisements against Trump on local news stations, for instance, which is where these low-information voters get their “news.” That is only one tactic among many others. Attack his business record which is not as stellar as he claims, the fallacy of a wall paid for by Mexico (he still has not explained how Mexico is going to pay for it), etc.
We still have plenty of time to have the great Rubio or Cruz debate after we dispatch Trump. But that debate is a non-starter until the immediate threat is removed. The next televised debate is a good place to start and will be held on February 25th and is hosted by CNN. One can almost guarantee that the moderators will not focus on issues, but on personalities and the nastiness of the South Carolina campaign and accusations of lying, etc. Wouldn’t it be great if Rubio or Cruz changed the subject by taking down the media for their attempt to foster infighting rather than focusing on policy, issues and specifics? Wouldn’t it be great if Rubio turned to Cruz and apologized for accusations of lying and Cruz accepted the apology and shook his hand? Wouldn’t it be great if Cruz turned to Rubio and said he understands why Rubio participated in the Gang of Eight, it was not the way he would do it, but at least you tried something? Wouldn’t it be great if Rubio and Cruz used the media to pin down Trump on specifics? One wonders how Trump would react to that?
The fact is Trump is thriving on the Cruz versus Rubio dynamic and both are equally guilty of feeding the monster. Along the way, the long-term threat waltzes her way to the Democratic nomination. Is the Republican Party willing to put their eggs in the basket of the equivalent of their ISIS in taking down the Democratic Party’s Assad? In that scenario, we have lost the battle against both foes.
Hence, a cease fire between the Cruz and Rubio camps is the first order of business. Given the rhetoric here and elsewhere, it is obvious that everyone has deep feelings for their preferred candidate. In the end, what would be worse? Holding your nose and voting for Rubio or Cruz, or holding your nose and voting for Trump? Because that is the reality of the situation. This writer would not hold their nose for Rubio or Cruz but rues the day Donald Trump is the nominee for the Republican Party.