The Cruz v Rubio Dillimma: Why I'm for Rubio (for now)...

So, after an… unusual.. primary season, here we are:

A few weeks from now, the first actual votes will be cast, and for most RedState readers, the choice pretty much boils down to ‘Cruz v Rubio’.

It didn’t start out that way, per-se: with Rick Perry & Scott Walker in the race – especially in the pre-Trump era – we had plenty of choices & plenty of good arguments as to which way to go…

But Rick & Scott are no longer with us, and Trump is still leading the charge to ‘Wodrow Wilsonize’ the GOP (making us the party of anger-driven big-government populists, rather than ideological conservatives)… That leaves us with 2 real Conservative choices.

To begin with, I’ll say that a world where 2 of the top-3 candidates hold 90%+ Heritage scores, which is also  a world where a man with a 94% Heritage score is the most-electable candidate in the entire race (that would be Rubio, FWIW), is a world where the Conservative base has finally *won* it’s electability battle with the moderate-establishment… The argument over which of the 2 men is or is not ‘establishment’ is a moot point.

Electability is not the *right* way to pick a candidate, but it is the way that the Karl Roves of the world pick their man: All they care about is winning, so they pick the guy that seems most likely to win (and to drive down-ballot victories via large coat-tails)… If a dead cat was the only thing beating Hillary in the polls, ol ‘Karl would push to nominate said dead-cat… Right now, none of the moderates are polling as in-any-way electable…

At least for me, this is not per-se an easy choice, and is one I may reconsider depending on the state of the race & the absolute-imperative of preventing a Trump nomination.

I have issues with the positions both men have taken – my ideal candidate would be a ‘fusion’ of the two, but we do not always get what we ideally want. I also see both of them as equal in terms of picking good Supreme Court justices (I would love to see Mr Cruz *as* a Justice, FWIW) – by far-and-away the most critical issue for the future of the conservative movement: We can’t afford any more O’Connors.

The ‘short’ version of my position, is that I get the impression that Cruz’ ongoing conflict with the party establishment has caused him to try and compete with Trump & the old Paulist (I say ‘old’, because with Ron gone, Rand does not seem to be going anywhere) movement for voters rather than aiming to persuade people not to vote for any of the 9-or-10 other candidates – staking out positions that are somewhat distasteful in a few key areas.

So, why Rubio over Cruz?

1) Foreign Policy:

This is perhaps my ‘headliner’ issue in choosing candidates, and probably one of the most critical ideological conflicts within the Republican Party & the conservative movement today.

Republicans face the choice between a supposedly ‘realist’ foreign policy (which is just Obama’s ‘bombing/negotiating only – no boots on the ground’ approach  – albeit with more ordnance expended and a less-restrictive targeting policy – combined with an article-of-faith belief that Muslim societies can only be governed by a repressive dictatorship), or seizing the moment after 8 years of failure to defend and vindicate our prior foreign-policy positions.

There is a case to be made that it was Obama’s withdrawal – not the 2003 invasion – that turned Iraq into a mess… That we have given the Democrats and their ‘peace platform’ a chance and it has made the world more dangerous than it was while GW Bush was President.

And that propping up terrorist-loving, terror-attack-sponsoring dictators like Assad and Qaddafi is the wrong choice both from a strategic & operational perspective – even if they have the ‘big bad’ of today’s terror groups as their present enemy. Especially in the case of Assad, who is an Iranian/Russian puppet – leaving him in place further destabilizes the region by allowing Iran to keep Syria as a client-state & keeping the Iran-to-Hezbollah arms pipeline open.

The US should not get ourselves involved in every little tribal brush-war (see: Rwanda, Somolia, etc), however in the face of the ISIS threat & a resurgent Russia, we need to protect our sphere of influence in the Middle East – ideally with a permanent US presence in Kurdistan, but at a minimum via an aggressive ground campaign in Syria. As we have seen in Iraq (where the withdrawal of US ground troops eliminated US leverage over the local government & led directly to the dismantling of anti-AQ/IS militia groups that we had built up to secure northwestern Iraq, for local political purposes – thus allowing AQI/ISIS to come roaring back from the dead) and Libya (where our air-only campaign has turned the place into a Jihadi playground), if you have no ground forces you have no say in the aftermath of the war….

Rubio seems open to making that case. Cruz seems to have cast his lot with the other side, either out of political expedience (reaching for those Paulist voters that Rand hasn’t been able to draw in, and fighting with Trump for the pissed-off-ex-Democrat vote) or because he actually backs a bombing-only foreign policy.

2) Economic Policy/Immigration:

As the sort of free-marketeer who believes that market-forces, not government tinkering, should set wages & trade policy, I have a problem with anyone who gives credence to the NAFTA-is-bad/they-took-our-jobs argument… Or who uses ‘wage depression’ as an argument in discussions of immigration.

One of the largest problems that we have in US politics today, is that no one is willing to tell the old-guard blue-collar Democrats (who are now driving the Trump campaign) that what they think of as ‘their jobs’ are gone & never coming back. Absent a world-war that we miraculously escape unharmed, the US will never again employ most of it’s middle-class doing manual-labor on an assembly line: ‘Making stuff’ (other than really technical, advanced stuff like airplanes, tanks & space-launch-systems) is a job for robots or 5th-grade-educated 3rd-worlders, not for the citizens of the world’s most advanced economy.

Asking government to ‘stack the deck’ by restricting the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country – or by taxing imports to ‘protect’ US companies – not only hurts the average American by raising retail prices, it also hurts our companies by turning them into lethargic patronage-addled zombies (See: GM & Chrysler as the best examples) that can’t compete.

‘Higher wages’ do no one any good if those ‘higher wages’ are caused by government manipulation of the labor market, which always causes the cost-of-living rises to match the newly ‘mandated’ higher wage. ‘Cheap labor’ is a very, very good thing.

We need MORE free-trade, and MORE skilled immigrants (Robbing other countries talent-pools helps us compete), not less. When I hear a candidate come out to bash legal immigration, oppose free-trade agreements, or complain about things that ‘lower wages’, I just have to shake my head & look for someone else to support.

So far, I have heard less of this from Rubio than from Cruz.

3) Monetary Policy:

One of the key, underlying strengths of the US economy has been our monetary policy in the post-gold era.

Rather than using the power of government to artificially ‘pick savers as winners & make debtors losers’ by-way-of a tight-money policy, the US has largely ‘given the market what it wants’…

A nation with a savings-rate in the 2-5% range & one where a majority of citizens and businesses both have massive debt-loads and store their wealth in equities/real-estate, absolutely cannot pander to those who buck the trend and keep large portions of their wealth in cash-basis savings.

Perpetual, 2-3% inflation is a must for national economic success, and the price of economic non-participation (Cash-basis saving) should be merciless devaluation.

If a candidate uses the words ‘Sound Money’ (as Cruz has) on the campaign trail, they are advocating for government to intervene against the wishes of the market & prop-up the guy from the ‘Parable of the Talents’, who buries his money under a mattress instead of investing it on the market.

This is critically important in Presidential Candidates, as they make appointments who sit on the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee.

Cruz has said he will artificially favor savers & pursue a tight monetary policy. Rubio has not.  Advantage: Rubio

Where Rubio Falls Short:

1) Tax Policy

For all the positives, Rubio has a *terrible* tax plan, that further promulgates the ongoing tax-credit/tax-rebate scam & uses the tax-code as a means to redistribute wealth.

Rubio’s plan would decrease the number of Americans with skin-in-the-game, by way of more deductions, credits & a wider ‘no-pay’ bracket. Rubio has also, at times, endorsed a larger EITC – which is flat out welfare.

2) Illegal Immigration

Even if you are not an immigration-hawk, Rubio’s past association with the ‘Gang of 8’ is a problem. For some, it is an outright disqualifier – although in my case immigration is nowhere near the top of my ‘issue-list’ & I am much more concerned about foreign policy & (what may be,  to some, rather arcane) monetery/economics issues…

How Cruz can get my vote:

For all of the above, I am still open to a change of position between the 2 candidates.

I was willing to swallow my distaste for ‘Texas back-country economics’ (the inflation-is-the-devil thing) to support Rick Perry in 2012… And I would much rather see a President Cruz than a President HR Clinton, Trump, or Sanders…

There’s also the chance that Rubio could – in an effort to draw voters away from the bloviating-buffoon at the top of the polls – adopt distasteful positions himself (as we saw with Scott Walker & his idiotic positions on birthright citizenship/walling the Canadian border)…

If it takes a vote for Cruz to stop Trump (by the time WA votes), count me in.

But in a Cruz V Rubio race, with the current state of the game, I will stick with Rubio.