It’s been a little over a month since the last time I wrote, and, by the time this piece is published, the Iowa caucuses will be only three days away. In my previous article, I made a few predictions that I would like to address, specifically involving the viability of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump as well as the inevitable nomination of Hillary Clinton.
I’ll start with Ted Cruz. This is a candidate who I believed was flawed from the start and could never be a reasonable contender for the GOP nomination. He’s hated by the establishment; he’s very far right politically and his demeanor is quite unlikable. I never would have entertained the idea of his being the presumptive nominee, but then Trump happened.
The strong polling of Trump and Ben Carson signalled the abandonment of the establishment, a change which ultimately benefited Cruz. Carson’s recent demise as a result of limited foreign policy experience sent the Carson conservative-evangelical base in Iowa rushing toward the socially-conservative Cruz. Recent polling suggests this is a three man race — Trump and Cruz hold impressive poll numbers in all early voting states, while Marco Rubio maintains a distant, albeit steady, third place position.
I’ve never been a Cruz fan. I believe he’s arrogant and fundamentally against the very concept of cooperation in government.
Economically speaking, I’m very conservative and tend to be more moderate with social issues. As I have written in the past, I am a fervent supporter of Rubio, a candidate with a sound economic and foreign policy background who shows a genuine desire to unite not only the Republican Party, but the United States as a whole. Ted Cruz seems to thrive off of division, and we can’t forget about the near record 21-hour filibuster to defund and repeal Obamacare that resulted in a government shutdown.
In regard to the viability of Trump, many political pundits and I have officially been declared wrong: Trump is not going anywhere, Trump supporters are loyal and Trump has the best chance of winning the GOP nomination, much to my chagrin. In an unprecedented primary campaign, Trump has targeted Latinos, Muslims, women, Megyn Kelly, and others all while pandering to Iowans, the NRA, republicans and evangelicals in such a blatantly obvious way that I’m genuinely shocked people view him as “the only candidate who is honest.”
I’ve been criticized by a few of my fellow republicans for not being conservative enough or not giving enough credit to Trump’s campaign. I will give him credit for two things: his ability to strike a nerve with an electorate that is fed up with politics as usual and his ability to destroy any hope the GOP had at rebranding and taking itself in a new, more inclusive direction which the party desperately needs if it wants to stay viable in modern America.
I know some of my fellow conservatives will argue that Trump has a sound economic plan and the tenacity to lead. To be entirely honest, I couldn’t care less about any potential economic vision he may have even though I am a devout economic conservative. The way he demeans entire groups of people is not something we need in the president of the United States. A Trump presidency could accurately hold the title often given to President Obama: divider-in-chief. He is the king of pandering to voters, and I will admit that practically every candidate panders in a national election in some form or another. From Scott Walker’s mentioning Harley Davidson every other sentence in order to win Iowa, to Hillary Clinton’s painful attempt at whipping, nae naeing and dabbing with Ellen DeGeneres and Tony Goldwyn.
I would argue that politically speaking, Trump trumps all of these exceptional displays at the art of pandering, as exemplified by a speech at Liberty University, a nonprofit Christian university in Virginia. He began by stating his book, The Art of the Deal, is second to none except the Bible, and proceeded to quote II Corinthians 3:17. “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.” It seemed like he had it all thought through: He’s at a university with the word “liberty” in the name, so why not quote a Bible verse that also says “liberty?” The problem is that this is the official Bible verse of the school, and that mistake was not even the greatest proof that he had no idea what he was talking about. He referred to II Corinthians as “Two Corinthians” in front of students who study the bible. “Two Corinthians 3:17. That’s the whole ballgame.”
Briefly, I’d like to touch on what I had thought would be the inevitable nomination of Hillary Clinton. With the recent surge of Bernie Sanders in all early voting states, including leads in Iowa and New Hampshire as well as steady increases in South Carolina, Sanders has a decent chance of beating Clinton. I still think she will be able to pull it off in the end, but her nomination is no longer guaranteed. Bernie Sanders has made the democratic primary significantly more interesting, and I for one am very happy about that. I don’t agree with Bernie Sanders on pretty much anything, however I see him as a good man who genuinely wants to do what he thinks is right for the country he loves, which is exactly what I want in a president. Hillary Clinton on the other hand, I don’t even want to see her in Washington let alone the White House.
My candidate of choice is Marco Rubio. I think he exemplifies a new direction for the GOP and is a great candidate to not only unite the division within the party but also the division in Washington. He demonstrates a level of patriotism and passion for civil service that I have not seen in any of the other republican candidates. He is a proven conservative who has brought to the table more concrete and substantive policy proposals than any of his counterparts, and I hope more primary voters will see that real soon.
I normally wouldn’t use my column to plug any specific organization, but I’d like to make an exception due to the fast approaching Minnesota Caucus on March 1. I’m the chair of “Mac for Marco,” an organization with goals of spreading the message of Senator Marco Rubio and encouraging Mac students to consider caucusing for him. Also, if you are conservatively inclined or just curious, I encourage you to join the reestablished Mac GOP. I know Macalester is historically liberal, so if you are or know of anyone who is more conservatively inclined, contact me and I can give you more information.