This has been a remarkably rancorous primary cycle on the Republican side, thanks in no small part to Donald Trump. Who knows what the race would have looked like without him in it? Since this election cycle has favored the outsiders, I think the party wings would have coalesced behind Cruz and Rubio/Jeb(!) rather quickly, but no one knows for sure.
How did we get here?
Ideological conservatives are obviously not the majority in the Republican party. We may be the base, but it has been made abundantly clear in the last decade that too many of our own representatives do not represent us. The tea party wave was a rebellion against the status quo in Washington, and was a harsh rebuke for Republicans who claimed to be with us while campaigning and then ignored us the rest of the time. We canned Cantor and got Boehner fired, but the establishment still props up RINOS like Thad Cochran. For some reason Lindsey Graham and John McCain are still sitting Senators.
What I’m wondering is… why does the GOP exist at this point? What holds us together anymore? Our coalition is breaking down before our eyes, and this presidential election threatens to shatter the party. There is so much bad blood between different wings of the Republican Party that I’m not sure how we keep the coalition together without some serious fence-mending and a return to principles.
What happens if Trump wins the nomination? I won’t be voting for him, and I’m sure a significant portion of Republicans would join me in refusing to do so. Unfortunately, his fans appear to be remarkably unpersuadable, and are as hypnotized by his cult of personality as Obama fans were in 2008. Trump would cement the celebrity presidency as a position unbound by the constitution. Trump would be the perfect low information president for low information voters.
What about if Cruz wins the nomination? Cruz has been calling it like he sees it in DC for 4 years. He’s done a great job at exposing the GOP’s lies and failure theater while keeping his principles intact. In this sense I suppose you could call Cruz divisive – he does not compromise his principles to make friends. He lives the principles of the constitution, and fights for most of the principles in the Republican party platform.
Presumably some of Trump’s birthers will refuse to vote for him, believing him to be ineligible. (They’re wrong, but this has been discussed elsewhere so I won’t go into it here.) It’s also likely that some of the GOPe would refuse to support him, because a President Cruz would likely mean the end (at least temporarily) of the Washington DC gravy train. The Democrats absolutely loathe Cruz, because he knows all of their arguments and how to defeat them. He went to Princeton and Harvard, so they can’t demean him as “another dumb Republican.” Instead they will have to claim that he is evil incarnate instead of debating him on policy.
How about Rubio? Except for his continuous faceplants regarding amnesty, he’s fairly conservative domestically with a foreign policy similar to Bush43. Unfortunately for him, his past support of (and current squishyness on) amnesty is a bridge too far for many conservatives and most Trump supporters. Even though he won as a tea party candidate in 2010, he’s too friendly with the establishment and he has not acceptably recanted his past heresies on amnesty. If he is elected and passes an amnesty bill that leads to voting rights for illegals, the GOP will not win another presidential election with its current platform. It will effectively kill the party.
A few months ago I thought Jeb had a shot at getting the nomination at a brokered convention, but I don’t think that’s the case any longer – his support will naturally fall to Rubio. Neither Kasich nor Carson will be the nominee for obvious reasons.
I support Cruz.
I could vote for Rubio, though this position is getting more and more difficult as he’s spent the last several weeks unfairly savaging Cruz’s reputation.
I won’t vote for Trump, period.
One of these three wings of the party will be partially vindicated if they win the nomination. But if that nominee goes on to lose the general, the I-told-you-so’s will start flying from the other two groups.
As a party, we need to come to a consensus as far as what our principles are, and how important it is for us to fight for them. I know right now that most Republican officeholders don’t share my views. I want to know why I should keep supporting the party instead of rooting for SMOD.