The Cruz Conundrum

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Ted Cruz became the first Republican to officially announce his candidacy today, which means the Silly Season has really and truly begun in earnest. I like [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] a lot as a Senator and I think that he will bring a lot of energy to the debates and that he will have important points to make about the value of standing by one’s principles. Although I have serious reservations about Cruz as an actual GOP nominee in the general, on the whole I  am glad that [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] is on our side and I am furthermore happy for him to elevate his national profile in the context of this campaign – which I suspect is his ultimate goal.

This post is really aimed towards the supporters of [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] – who are more than anyone in this country my ideological brethren. While Cruz is a great Senator, there are some very serious roadblocks that stand in the way of people taking him credibly as a Presidential candidate.

He is, as Erick noted earlier today, a one term Senator, which is less than ideal preparation for the job of being President, as Barack Obama demonstrates on a daily basis. There are questions that exist about his ability to connect with the kind of big money donors that are necessary for a modern Presidential campaign. By temperament and rhetoric there are legitimate questions about his viability as a Presidential candidate. Most importantly, he is a polarizing figure on the right – his rise to high name recognition among GOP voters has not come without creating enemies in the Republican voting coalition.

Maybe, against all expectations, [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] can overcome all of these obstacles to win the nomination. Maybe if he does it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the general. I will tell you what will not get him there – the shrill, angry tone I already see from many of his supporters when they defend him (even from some attacks which are, in all fairness, unfair).

Look, like it or not, for an insurgent candidacy like Cruz’s, the behavior of his core supporters is going to reflect on the candidate. Part of the reason Ron Paul never caught on (in addition to the fact that he is an anti-American racist crackpot) is that his supporters alienated literally everyone in the world with their obnoxious behavior. Likewise, the reason that everyone dreads an actual Sarah Palin candidacy is that her remaining supporters are the most all-caps attack dog people on the planet. Fair or not, people don’t want to associate themselves as fellow voters with people they strongly dislike.

[mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] has got a lot to offer the Republican party and he has an important message to carry to the voters, win or lose. During the course of his candidacy, he is going to have some arrows and stones slung at him, some of which will be patently unfair. My hope is that Cruz and his supporters will be able to engage this with sunny dispositions as happy warriors rather than as perpetually angry and defensive people who permanently tar Cruz by his association with them.

It’s a thankless task, facing down lies and unfair criticisms with a smile, but for the sake of Cruz’s place in the movement, I hope it can be done.