Home / General / What is the Least Worst Case Republican Nomination Scenario?

What is the Least Worst Case Republican Nomination Scenario?

Comments
/
/
/
95 Views

Donald-Trump_Ted-Cruz

Yglesias is converted to Paul’s position, and like Paul makes a pretty convincing argument:

America’s liberals finally have a candidate they can wholeheartedly root for in the Republican primaries — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

There’s been incredible temptation to root for Donald Trump, whose unfavorable ratings are sky-high and whose candidacy is tearing the conservative movement apart, but it’s tempered by growing fear of what a Trump administration might actually look like. On the other hand, someone like a Marco Rubio is pretty scary in his own right, and much more likely to win a general election. And the basic reality is that given Republican Party control over Congress, any Republican administration is alarming to liberals, so fear of an electable Republican is palpable.

Enter Ted Cruz. Compared with the more mainstream Republicans in the vanishing “establishment lane,” he’s a much weaker general election candidate, running on a nakedly extreme platform and with plenty of intraparty enemies who’ll guarantee a steady stream of bad press.

And compared with Donald Trump he doesn’t offer any outlier downsides. He’s not particularly tapping into the darkest impulses of the American people. His ideas, though extreme, are vetted through the same conservative policy apparatus as everyone else’s. People who know him best don’t like him, nobody thinks he’s likely to win in November, and he’s the Republican Party’s last best hope to stop Trump. He should also be the liberal choice for anyone tempted to cross over in an open primary, or just for liberals sitting at home wondering who to root for.

A few points:

  • I don’t think there’s any question that a losing Trump campaign would be worse for the country than a losing Cruz one. Trump being a major party candidate likely means more violence and a further debasement of already fragile political norms. And the lesson that many Republican elites would take from a loss was that Trump lost because he wasn’t conservative enough. (They would try to say that about Cruz, but that’s obviously a tougher sell.)
  • Like most political scientists, I think that head-to-head polls at this point have very little predictive value, and I agree with Yglesias that once Democrats went to work on him Cruz would probably be almost as bad a general election candidate as Trump. If you do believe they have value, they show Cruz as being a significantly better candidate than Trump, particularly against Clinton. I don’t buy it, but if you do that has to be a part of the consideration of whether to root for him.
  • Not to be contrarian, but I think that whether a Trump presidency or a Cruz presidency would be worse is a tough call. The possibility of Trump transgressing constitutional norms  and inciting racially motivated violence is terrifying, and probably makes it worse in the short term. But in the long term, the likelihood that Cruz would work more effectively with a Republican Congress and produce an agenda including a health care system worse than the status quo ante the ACA, voter disenfranchisement, massive upper-class tax cuts, gutting the regulatory state, etc. etc. all with the formal veneer of “normal” politics is also terrifying. A Trump administration would likely mean an enduring neoconfederate Supreme Court majority if Breyer and/or Ginsburg leaves the Court. A Cruz presidency unquestionably would.
  • Obviously, my views on this aren’t a secret, but the consequences of either Trump or Cruz winning are so unconscionably bad that I will have even less patience than usual with people who take to major public fora to announce their HOT TAKE that since Hillary Clinton is an an inauthentic neoliberal and President Sanders would not unilaterally force Israel to dismantle the Palestinian settlements, Both Sides Do It and Tlinton/Crump and who cares really. You have sounder views on public policy than a major party presidential candidate in the United States. Congratulations! If you think expressing this is more important than harm minimization in this context, your self-flattery is deeply misplaced.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Brett

    I think Trump would be better than Cruz. Trump seems more malleable – if he gets “bored” with the Presidency, he might be tempted to compromise on a lot of stuff with a Democratic Congress (especially since he’s spent much of life working with Democratic politicians).

    • Ken

      But under what circumstances does Trump become president, and the Democrats take either house (much less both)?

      • djw

        When he becomes extremely unpopular, perhaps because of poor economic performance, and we get a 2006-like midterm.

        I wouldn’t call that the most likely scenario, but it’s entirely plausible. Certainly more likely than any path to a Democratic Congress that doesn’t go through two years disastrous Republican governance.

        • JG

          I really do not have faith in our voters to go out and vote in a midterm

          • Ken

            I really do not have faith there would be a midterm in 2018 under those circumstances.

          • Thirtyish

            This precisely.

          • Manny Kant

            I mean, we won a midterm 10 years ago. It doesn’t seem utterly outlandish.

            • Just a Rube

              The 2018 Senate map is hellaciously bad for the Democrats. It’s the class of 2012, 2006, 2000, each of which the Democrats made gains in. Almost all the Republican Senators are in Red States, while the Democrats are defending seats like North Dakota, Indiana and West Virginia. Even a great midterm turnout would do nothing more than protect the status quo.

        • Phil Perspective

          And a Democratic Congress did what between Jan. 2007 and Jan. 2009? Meaning re: C- Augustus. A whole lot of sternly worded letters. And they confirmed Roberts and Alito despite knowing were extremist assholes.

          • EliHawk

            Roberts and Alito were confirmed in 2005-06. Before the Democrats controlled Congress.

            • wjts

              That is central to Phil’s point.

              • tsam

                Because shut up, that’s why.

              • Scott Lemieux

                “I am intrigued by Ted Cruz’s theory that Congress could have compelled President Obama to sign a bill repealing Obamacare and would like to subscribe to his newsletter.” –Phil Perspective

          • djw

            You’re not very good at this, are you?

            • q-tip

              THIS COMMENT SECTION LACKS AN UPVOTE BUTTON HELLOOOOOOOOOOO

        • brad

          2006 came after the dual failures in Iraq and Katrina, as well. The costs incurred to produce those potential gains would indeed be profound.

    • Rob in CT

      What Democratic congress?

      Also, too: you know who else people thought was malleable?

      • Bill Murray

        The Man with the Golden Arm?

        The Oscar Statue?

        Were there any people in Salvador Dali paintings?

  • Anon21

    Not to be contrarian, but I think that whether a Trump presidency or a Cruz presidency would be worse is a tough call. The possibility of Trump transgressing constitutional norms and inciting racially motivated violence is terrifying, and probably makes it worse in the short term. But in the long term, the likelihood that Cruz would work more effectively with a Republican Congress and produce an agenda including a health care system worse than the status quo ante the ACA, voter disenfranchisement, massive upper-class tax cuts, gutting the regulatory state, etc. etc. all with the formal veneer of “normal” politics is also terrifying. A Trump administration would likely mean an enduring neoconfederate Supreme Court majority if Breyer and/or Ginsburg leaves the Court. A Cruz presidency unquestionably would.

    But the distinction is that you can plausibly, eventually repeal the policy changes Cruz signs into law and replace the Justices Cruz appoints. I don’t take that “eventually” lightly at all; people will suffer and probably die based on the policies a hard-right GOP President with a same-party Congress enacts, but the system will be neither broken nor irrevocably changed.

    Trump is a totally different kind of threat. Once you break a political culture and constitutional system to the point where its leaders openly encourage political violence, you cannot put it back together again.

    • Trump is a totally different kind of threat. Once you break a political culture and constitutional system to the point where its leaders openly encourage political violence, you cannot put it back together again.

      We might have a post-Watergate moment.

      We’ve had quite a lot of political violence historically with much of it openly encouraged by leaders. It’s not good and it’s quite dangerous and there’s a risk you can’t put it back together. But so too for the policy changes.

      They both are awful awful awful.

      • postmodulator

        We might have a post-Watergate moment.

        Ah, yes, in which the party associated with a recent lost war, terrible economic performance, and blatant criminality at its very highest levels was discredited and lost power.

        For six years.

        • ???

          The Nixon regime was terrible on many levels, but the political system recovered. That’s no a reason to wish for something awful to happen or to be indifferent to it happening.

          • q-tip

            Confused by your “???” comment here, BP. I think postmodulator made his/her skepticism clear.

    • tsam

      Once you break a political culture and constitutional system to the point where its leaders openly encourage political violence, you cannot put it back together again.

      Don’t forget we had a Civil War, McCarthy, the late 60s, and as Bijan says, Watergate. You CAN put it back together, but it takes cool head prevailing, and there doesn’t seem to be a steady supply of those lately.

      • Anon21

        Don’t forget we had a Civil War

        Yes, and the antebellum political order was destroyed and never returned. Not that we ended up in an egalitarian democracy free of white supremacy–far from it–but the system and Constitution that emerged after the war was completely different from what had come before.

        Watergate is not a great counter-example. Nixon operated clandestinely because he knew that he would lose the support of his party if he acted openly. That indicates that the system had not been warped in his image, and indeed when his crimes came to light, the system eventually worked and expelled him. Trump is openly cultivating political violence and promising his supporters they won’t face consequences, and it doesn’t appear to be hurting his standing in the GOP race much, if at all.

        • tsam

          Watergate isn’t. You’re right. But the antebellum establishment died, and we remained a country, despite some still fighting that war. And those amendments following the war have strengthened us to large degree.

          I guess I’m saying it’s not quite time pronounce the union dead or circling the drain. We’ve been in worse tangles before and survived.

          • Anon21

            I guess I’m saying it’s not quite time pronounce the union dead or circling the drain. We’ve been in worse tangles before and survived.

            I’m certainly not pronouncing the union dead, particularly as Trump hasn’t even yet won a major party nomination, much less been sworn in. But I’m saying that a Trump presidency would be a major crisis for our system of government, and that it is a far worse prospect than an admittedly horrible Cruz administration.

            • tsam

              Fuck yes it would. No argument there.

              • Dilan Esper

                I think one way to express this is that a lot of the people who say “Cruz would be worse” are really just assuming that there’s some possible status quo where conservatives don’t exist or never win the presidency.

                Conservatives exist. They are a significant percentage of the country. They can’t win the presidency by themselves, but they can form and have formed effective coalitions that can and did win presidential elections.

                So instead of saying “it’s worse because the Republican Party is so right wing”, you need a different baseline. Conservatives are sometimes going to win elections, so what KIND of conservatives do we want to win when they do win.

                And it seems to me there’s a pretty strong argument that the answer to that is “Not Trump”, and that this overrides whatever we want to say about other conservatives.

                But if that ISN’T right, you at least have to argue on that ground. The argument that says “look at all the terrible stuff President Cruz is going to enact” is basically an argument that ignores that sometimes conservatives will win elections and enact bad stuff, and there can still be relevant distinctions between different ones.

                • Manny Kant

                  I’m fairly certain that there’s a pretty strong argument that the kind of conservative we want to be elected president is also “not Cruz”. And “not Rubio,” too, for that matter.

                • Dilan Esper

                  That’s a cute way of refusing to engage the issue.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  But if that ISN’T right, you at least have to argue on that ground. The argument that says “look at all the terrible stuff President Cruz is going to enact” is basically an argument that ignores that sometimes conservatives will win elections and enact bad stuff, and there can still be relevant distinctions between different ones.

                  Except that since 1)Cruz would be the most radical nominee of either major party since Goldwater and 2)most of his policy agenda would be highly unpopular even among Republican voters (let alone the public as a whole), your analysis applies at least as well to Cruz as to Trump, if not more so.

                • Manny Kant

                  Yeah, this argument would maybe be reasonable to apply to Kasich. I don’t think it applies at all to Cruz.

    • so-in-so

      Implied is that the system is not already broken by a GOP Congress that sees unlimited obstruction coupled to frequent and complete lying about everything as valid governing principles.

      Trump is the result of breaking the system, not the actor breaking it.

      • AMK

        This. The system can handle lots of guys like Trump–narcissists and racists with a loud, devoted following that is far from being a majority of the country. What it can’t handle is one of two political parties and one of two elected branches deciding that constitutional norms and basic facts do not apply.

    • I can’t agree with that. Remember the Civil Rights movement? True, we didn’t have a president openly encouraging political violence but we had plenty of governors doing it — not just encouraging it but engaging in it through armed agents of the state. We managed to get past it more or less intact.

      • Anon21

        There again, the political system and culture that emerged was a complete shift from what came before. The Civil and Voting Rights Acts constituted probably the biggest political change since the Civil War, and the open participation of black leaders in national political life has completely reshaped American politics.

        This may not seem too scary if your position is that the current American political system is so fundamentally rotten that it needs to undergo a similar revolutionary change to be more just. I’m agnostic about that, but I also think that those hoping for a fundamental reorientation in a progressive direction may be very disappointed, indeed horrified, by what emerges from a Trump presidency.

      • Duvall

        We managed to get past it more or less intact.

        Where the LGM “we” means “white people” yet again.

  • Ken

    Tlinton/Crump

    Trinton-Clump, surely? Although that sounds like it should be a charming little hamlet outside Canterbury, or maybe a horrifying condition of the lower GI tract.

    • Thrax

      or maybe a horrifying condition of the lower GI tract

      So *that’s* what Trump reminds me of. Thanks.

      • postmodulator

        Trump actually is English slang for breaking wind, I believe.

        • Warren Terra

          In archaic English “Trump” also means a trumpet or the sound of a trumpet, and as such is used frequently in Shakespeare and shows up in various apocalyptic texts, especially those striving for a certain 19th century poetic quality, eg Sound The Trump Of Doom. It does not however appear in quite that form in popular translations of Revelations (though it’s close).

    • wjts

      Sounds like one of Bertie Wooster’s chums to me.

    • ASV

      It is Manitoba’s least-visited parliamentary riding.

  • Ahenobarbus

    Best case is Clinton wins the GOP nod at the convention and runs against Sanders in the Fall.

    Seriously, at this point, you probably have to accept that Trump not getting the nomination will require some heavy-handedness by the powers that be, and I’m not sure how that will play out. The “best case” for us is he runs third party and splits the vote.

    But I might count this as going quietly on Trump’s part, relatively speaking. Could things get violent?

    • NonyNony

      Best case is Clinton wins the GOP nod at the convention and runs against Sanders in the Fall.

      That’s a hell of a best case scenario. I suspect the actual best case scenario is nowhere near that good.

      • Ahenobarbus

        Yeah, I know. It was a joke.

      • Rob in CT

        It’s a nice fantasy, though.

    • brad

      How about we draft Michelle Obama?
      It’s a bit early and who the hell knows if she wants it, but still…

      • twbb

        Ugh enough nepotism already.

  • pzerzan

    While I agree with Paul that Trump does seem like the type of President who would seize TV stations and declare marshall law, Cruz seems like the type of President who would default on our nation’s debt if Congress didn’t repeal Obamacare and privatize Social Security. I this Trump is less bound by rules and norms than Cruz would be. However, that doesn’t mean Cruz wouldn’t take actions that are also well outside established rules and norms as well…

    • Jhoosier

      Who’s Marshall Law?

    • Anon21

      Cruz seems like the type of President who would default on our nation’s debt if Congress didn’t repeal Obamacare and privatize Social Security.

      I don’t think his actions as a Senator map very well onto his likely actions as President. His incentives will be very different. The President is ultimately held accountable by voters for economic and political turmoil, even when he doesn’t directly cause it (and in this case, he would).

      Does that mean he’ll avoid things (such as a massive upper-income tax cut) that follow his ideology because they’ll be bad for the country on balance? No. But it does mean he probably won’t use radical tactics like blowing up the economy.

      • pzerzan

        I wish I could believe that. Cruz’s actions show a man willing to lose an election if he could bring down the welfare state. While he may not be inclined to Trump’s level of extremism, it would be foolish to think the conventional incentives that keep politicians in check would apply to Cruz. Scary times we live in…

      • Ken

        Economic and political turmoil don’t matter when the idea is to hurry along the Second Coming. In fact they’re a plus.

        • los

          they worked for the Third Reich.

    • JKTH

      This is my thinking as well. Cruz is a hostage-taker and it’s hard to say with any certainty that he wouldn’t do it as President as well. He could very well find the GOP Congress is full of RINOs and thus we need to pass the Crazy Far Right Wish List Act of 2017 or default on the debt. Whether that’s worse than what Trump would do is debatable but the possibility at least puts him into contention for worst GOP candidate.

    • Bill Murray

      Cruz seems like the kind of President who would push for the death penalty for gays, atheists, adulterers …

      • Brad Nailer

        Cruz/Leviticus 2016!

  • Charlie S

    If Cruz is the nominee then Trump takes his supporters and goes home or, even better, runs as a third party candidate.

    • Pat

      Many white supremacists will never vote for the Canadian-born Cuban.

      • witlesschum

        We were previously told many Christianists wouldn’t vote for a follower of that Utah cult.

        • twbb

          Yeah there is no credible evidence that large numbers of RWNJs would not vote for a latino whose interests coincide 100% with theirs.

    • Thrax

      A third-party run would certainly ensure that Clinton/Sanders is elected, and I would start the bidding at 450 electoral votes and go up from there. The outcome might not be as favorable downballot–you don’t have nearly as many GOP voters feeling like they have no reason to vote because they don’t like any of the presidential candidates, and staying home as a result.

      Best case for the Democrats: Trump wins a plurality of delegates, gets cheated out of them (in his view) at the convention, decides *not* to make a third-party run (and thus his supporters don’t turn out to vote for Cruz), but vows to do it all again in 2020.

      Best case for the country: Cruz somehow legitimately gets a majority of delegates and unequivocally repudiates Trumpism and everything associated with it. He loses badly in the general, but Trump is finished as a force in the GOP.

      • Manny Kant

        Cruz has been pretty clear up to this point that he has no interest in repudiating Trumpism and everything associated with it. He’s happy to repudiate Trump on the policy areas where Trump is (rhetorically at least) slightly less awful than the average Republican, though.

    • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

      runs as a third party candidate

      I don’t see any indication that the third party run is anything more than a threat he uses to keep the anti-Trumpers in line. He would have to spend a lot of money on a guaranteed lose. Why?

      • McKingford

        I’ve been pretty skeptical of Trump’s bid because of his refusal to really spend any money – especially when he’s had the chance to put the hammer down and seal the nomination…which tells me he’s cheap and/or not really the billionaire he claims to be.

        Having said that, I can definitely see him making a bruised-ego independent run. And it wouldn’t cost him much at all. He understands media manipulation as well as anyone, and he’d still get tons of earned media with a quixotic independent run. And precisely because his chances of winning would be close to nil, he wouldn’t have any pressure to spend on a real campaign (unlike the pressure on him to open his wallet if he wins the GOP nomination). He’d be running purely out of spite to the GOP – because, lets face it, if he can’t be President, you know he doesn’t really care who wins otherwise.

        So he’d fly around the country, spending money (but probably not that much, once you take into account the donations he takes in) on travel and putting on rallies, but without any sort of GOTV or purchased air time…and he’d win 10-20% of the vote and sink any GOP chance.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Though I agree that he would be a marginally weaker general election candidate, I think Cruz would be even worse as president than Trump, in part for the reasons you outline above. And since I think either of them might win in November (notwithstanding their weaknesses), I cannot bring myself to root for Ted Cruz. Not that it matters who I root for.

    (I actually knew Ted Cruz when he was in college. Like his freshman roommate, I cannot imagine anyone I’d less want to be president. And, yes, that includes Donald Trump.)

    • DrDick

      That is pretty much where I stand on this, though the increasing violence and Trump’s eagerness to crank up the rhetoric past 11 is giving me a bit of pause.

    • NonyNony

      I can’t root for any of them. Somehow I want them all to lose.

    • McKingford

      I am slightly more circumspect today than I was even a week ago, given the violent rhetoric that Trump increasingly resorts to. But I still come down on a Trump presidency being preferable to a Cruz/Rubio one because Trump doesn’t really have any of the grand plans of movement conservatives. His biggest goal would likely be building his wall, which, while stupid and unproductive, is no worse than about 1,325,368 horrible policies Cruz would have lined up to implement.

      Fallows over at the Atlantic has been delving into the issue of Trump’s complete lack of any interest in policy. And while deeply troubling for a potential president, it also means he’ll be severely hamstrung in implementing anything he wants to get done. And aside from the Wall, I don’t really think Trump has grand plans, other than being in charge. And because he doesn’t have ties to movement conservatism, I think he’ll be completely ineffectual in staffing his administration – whereas that would be a top priority for Cruz – so that his minions won’t have the same agendas that Cruz’s might.

  • patrick II

    Not to be contrarian, but I think that whether a Trump presidency or a Cruz presidency would be worse is a tough call.

    You may have already seen this, but two Daily show reporters had a classic, insightful debate about which is worse, a Cruz or Trump presidency, a couple of weeks ago.

  • JG

    And the lesson that many Republican elites would take from a loss was that Trump lost because he wasn’t conservative enough

    Would elites say that or the voters? I remember a lot of elites thought the party needed to try to reach out to Hispanics after 2012 and look what happened.

    • Ahenobarbus

      Depends on how you define elites.

      I guarantee you, Bill Kristol will say Trump lost because he wasn’t a conservative. Erickson, Noonan, Rush Limbaugh… they’ll all say the same.

      • djw

        Hell, they’re already saying it–he *will* lose if nominated because he’s not a real conservative.

        • Warren Terra

          Yeah, but no matter what happens a lot of these same people will say that a losing Republican represents a lack of sufficient conservatism. If the nominee is Cruz, the blame will be placed on Trump confusing the conservative brand in the primaries or something. Conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed.

        • McKingford

          Conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed!

  • keta

    If we’re going to hypothesize, how’s this?:

    Neither Trump nor Cruz wins a plurality in the primary, with Trump securing slightly more delegates. The Republicans and their Koch-and-a-smile supporters slaver at their wet dream of a brokered convention, but they’re stymied by a – Surprise! – Trump/Cruz ticket.

    Trump has said he’d likely look to a “political type” as a running mate. Cruz has to know this is likely his only shot at spending the wee amount of political capital he can muster from colleagues and the veep slot, while not ideal, would perhaps be enough for his ego (especially considering he would look to expand this role far beyond Cheney proportions.)

    Trump galvanizes GOP primary support, Cruz is (temporarily) mollified.

    (I see a Trump/Cruz ticket, just like a Trump or Cruz ticket, getting creamed in the general.)

    • Joe_JP

      If he needs Cruz’s votes, Trump might do that, though the prediction about the general there will be helped by having two candidates many REPUBLICANS will find distasteful.

      If Trump gets a plurality large enough, I think a better shot at a “political” running mate is Kasich, including because Cruz will be harder for Trump to take on an attitude level. We all know all these guys are assholes, but those are two of the biggest egotistical ones around for sure. If Kasich wins Ohio, he might have at least 200 delegates (picking up some later) & that might be enough.

      [BTW, it amuses me a bit that a Cruz supporter on another blog suggests the same ticket as you; so maybe it’s a lock! Anon has a point though]

      • NonyNony

        Kasich is the one candidate up there who I think might turn Trump down. Because there’s no way that he’d play second banana to Donald Trump, and there’s no way that Trump would let him have the main gig. He’ll make a “principled stand”, insist after the election is over that Trump was never a “real” Republican, and start seeding his run for 2020 immediately on the assumption that Trump is going down hard. If he turns out to be wrong, well, there’s always wingnut welfare.

        I suspect that Rubio, on the other hand would jump at the chance to be Trump’s dancing monkey. If he can get some delegates lined up that is.

        • Manny Kant

          Rubio has been much more pointedly anti-Trump than Kasich has. I think Kasich is pretty clearly angling for VP.

    • Anon21

      I don’t see a lot of upside for Cruz there. He wants, in order, to be the nominee, or to be the leader of what’s left of the party after a Trump nomination. If he joins up with Trump, he will be tarred with Trump, and will have no chance of ever securing a nomination in the future. He might also invite a primary challenge in Texas and be knocked out of politics altogether.

    • djw

      Neither Trump nor Cruz wins a plurality in the primary, with Trump securing slightly more delegates.

      How does this occur? Is it even mathematically possible?

      ETA: re-reading, it looks like you must mean majority, not plurality?

      • Joe_JP

        Don’t think Rubio or Kasich will win a “plurality” and SOMEONE has to. And, if that occurs, they would be in the drivers seat. I think “majority” was meant there.

      • keta

        Yep. Thanks for the correction.

    • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

      Surprise! – Trump/Cruz ticket.

      Far too much hate between the two (and their supporters) at this point.

  • Donald

    I wholeheartedly agree that it is important to elect the considerably lesser of two evils, but why do so many people who want to persuade others to be mature voters engage in personal insults about self flattery and the like? Why is it so important to do this? I’ll answer my own question– it is self indulgence. You ae so angry at people who think the wrong way about how the vote should be used you’d rather assign the worst possible motivation to all of them.. Then one or two might show up, tempers flare, and nobody changes.

    Some people are genuinely and sincerely mistaken. As for indulgence in self righteousness you find that everywhere.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      I totally agree with this. I’ll never understand political arguments that entirely write off the person against whom one is arguing. Even if you sincerely believe that your interlocutor is an idiot, saying so to his or her face is likely to make him or her entirely unpersuadable.

      And if one is truly concerned that one is likely to lose an election because so many people are irrationally opposed to your candidate, perhaps that’s a good reason to get another candidate. We need candidates who will win, not merely candidates who ought to win.

    • Pat

      Frankly, I think it’s wrong to tell Democrats that they need to jump in and try to fix the Republican nomination. Our efforts should be towards getting more and better Democrats elected. Period. Worrying about which evil is worse is a waste of brain power.

  • CrunchyFrog

    On the question of which is a better nominee for Democrats I agree the answer has to be Cruz. Ted Cruz is exactly who he says he is, and he has a long track record of saying just that. Most voters don’t know much about him except the sound bite descriptions. Once that changes most voters will be as repelled by him as they were by Palin.

    On the other hand, Trump – like most charismatic extreme radicals – has the ability to get people to believe that he won’t actually do all of the radical stuff he says he’ll do, and that maybe he’s just the guy needed to shake things up. Trump could win the whole thing, despite his current high unfavorables, especially given two of these three: a weak Democratic candidate, the possibility of some nasty scandal that the press just won’t let go of, or a nasty terrorist attack the week before the election.

    On the question of who would be worse if he won, I’m not sure that’s knowable. Cruz would be the worst president in at least a century, possibly of all time. Trump is a complete wild card – yes his victory would signal to the world that the US has gone completely over to the dark side (not that a Cruz victory wouldn’t send the same signal, only not nearly as loud), but in terms of his actual actions we don’t have a freaking clue.

  • MaureenDowdsLudes

    Cruz. By far. Trump is a fascist to be sure, but Cruz is a fascist with a heaping dose of religious fanaticism thrown in. Sort of like this guy.

  • Joe_JP

    Rubio/Kasich just split the D.C. delegates. Rubio/Kasich ’16! Hey, Erick Erikson wants Cruz/Rubio, after all.

    I think your analysis is reasonable here & it takes some work to show how Cruz being President is better than Trump enough to actually see Cruz as the candidate the path reasonable people should promote. Even if it’s true, it’s just not true enough to impress much. And, Trump has a much better shot at winning as well, perhaps putting a true scare in key states Dems must win.

    FWIW, here are some RealClearPolitics polls: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/latest_polls/president/

    Kasich looks to win Ohio though it’s not even a lock while Trump has other states, though a surprise is possible (but at this point, second is usually good enough unless it’s winner take all). The only shot really is if recent Trump rally issues plus Cruz not campaigning there results in a somewhat shocking upset in Florida. I think that’s at least possible. Also, Cruz winning something will help his credibility.

    If that happens, a Cruz candidacy becomes somewhat possible though the remaining races favor Trump in various cases. But, if Trump doesn’t win Floridan and Ohio, it can be hard for him to get a majority. If Cruz has a strong second place finish there, he could credibly get the nomination. So, we really have a “Super Tuesday” coming up.

  • rewenzo

    If Ted Cruz is the nominee, I worry he will be the “moderate” Republican. He will lose, and the Republicans will again go back to thinking they need to be even more conservative, and even more white. This goes doubly true if the convention takes the nomination from Trump and gives it to Cruz. A more apt metaphor for “the establishment taking away something a white man earned and giving it to a minority” I cannot imagine.

    I think you’ve got to let the fever break, and let the Trump voters have their shot. Let them get destroyed, let HRC win 40+ states, let the Democrats take both houses of Congress, some state houses, some governorships. Let the democrats solidify liberal control of the Supreme Court for decades. Let Trump destroy the Republican party, let it bare for once and for undeniable all what the GOP is, and maybe then the Republicans can reset, and pivot back towards sanity.

    As an aside, can Trump run as an independent on the ballot in the 50 states or is too late?

    • NonyNony

      Here’s the problem – if Ted Cruz is the nominee and loses, one faction of conservatives will scream that the reason they lost is because Cruz was really a RINO and they should have nominated Trump, and if they had, Trump would have won it.

      But if Donald Trump is the nominee and he loses, then a different faction of conservatives will scream that Trump wasn’t a real conservative, and they should have nominated Ted Cruz, and if they had, Cruz would have won it.

      Either side will be roughly a third of the GOP in size and equally loud in the circumstances. They won’t be the same people, but the message either side would use will be remarkably similar (and totally content free, as all of the various “we woulda won if we’d run a REAL CONSERVATIVE” arguments tend to be).

      This is a fever that can’t break this year. In fact no presidential election is going to break this fever. It’s going to require sustained losses across multiple consecutive elections – they’re going to have to lose a presidential election, then a Congressional election, and then ANOTHER presidential election before the fever can even have a chance of breaking. And even then I wouldn’t bet much on it.

      • CrunchyFrog

        Here’s the problem – if Ted Cruz is the nominee and loses, one faction of conservatives will scream that the reason they lost is because Cruz was really a RINO and they should have nominated Trump, and if they had, Trump would have won it.

        I don’t know about this. I’ve never heard anyone in GOP circles even remotely hint that Cruz isn’t sufficiently conservative or a RINO. By contrast, that was openly said about both McCain and Romney by most of the wingnut press long before either was nominated.

        I don’t know what they’d blame it on if Cruz is the nominee and he loses, but I don’t think they’d say it was because he wasn’t sufficiently conservative. There would be some other meme – in addition to the usual blaming of the media and of hoards of blacks and Mexicans being bussed in to vote illegally. Maybe they’d say it was because Trump poisoned the image of the GOP (good chance). Maybe they’d blame his Spanish heritage (less likely). But the most likely excuse that comes to mind is that he was stabbed in the back by the GOP establishment who was upset about how he fought their agenda in the Senate. The excuse most likely to be adopted is one that fits existing pre-conceived notions and extends the blame to people they already think are bad – like the meme blaming the 2008 crash on lazy blahs in the ‘hood who got all those mortgages because of liberal laws.

        • Bruce B.

          They didn’t say it about W until he became inconvenient, either.

          • UserGoogol

            The wars served as something to unify conservatives around, but even then there was definitely opposition from the right, just from weird marginalized corners like libertarians and paleoconservatives.

  • anapestic

    How about if I don’t root for anyone in the Republican primary and just worry about who I’m going to vote for in my own party’s primary?

    (Which is not to say that I’m not experiencing boatloads of schadenfreude over the immolation of the Republicans. I’m only human.)

  • ForkyMcSpoon

    The “shot or poisoned” analogy seems a little off to me.

    It’s hard to think exactly what the choice should be. Maybe:

    Would you rather be sprayed by a skunk, get kicked in the balls and then play Russian roulette… or would you rather get shot in both kneecaps?

    It’s hard to calibrate exactly, but I think the Russian roulette part is right.

    • Joe_JP

      Well, I just read a book on an executioner in the 16th Century (Faithful Executioner) and how one died tended to be something the doomed cared a lot about.

      Guess it depends on how the poison and bullets work.

  • Chuchundra

    My thinking is that a Trump candidacy has a good chance of ripping the GOP apart, like that poor guy in that scene in Bone Tomahawk.

    It’s hard not to root for that, even though the potential downside of him actually winning the thing is pretty terrible.

  • xq

    I don’t think there’s any question that a losing Trump campaign would be worse for the country than a losing Cruz one.

    That’s a really strong claim. What about Hispanic turnout? People who vote once are more likely to vote again, so that could be a long-term effect.

    And the lesson that many Republican elites would take from a loss was that Trump lost because he wasn’t conservative enough.

    Why is Republican elites taking the wrong lesson a bad thing? Let them lose with Trump this year and lose with Cruz (or similar) in 2020.

    Also, I think Trump has a higher chance of outperforming generic Republican than Cruz, but also a higher chance of greatly underperforming generic Republican. And in the latter scenario, a lot of Republicans will stay home and that will help in lower races.

    • Scott Lemieux

      That’s a really strong claim. What about Hispanic turnout? People who vote once are more likely to vote again, so that could be a long-term effect.

      Interesting point. That would certainly be the silver lining.

    • MattT

      Why is Republican elites taking the wrong lesson a bad thing? Let them lose with Trump this year and lose with Cruz (or similar) in 2020.

      I also worry this is going to cut both ways. If Trump loses, yeah, the party probably decides he was really a liberal all along, and a Cruz-type gets it next time. A GOP where anybody with any ambition spends the next 4 years trying to be the next Cruz is bad for the country.

      But if they somehow keep the nomination from Trump and lose with Cruz (or someone like him) this year, the lesson they will take is that they should have gone with Trump, and the whole party will spend the next 4 years trying to outdo Trump. That’s at least as bad an outcome.

    • los

      and lose with Cruz (or similar worse) in 2020
      Cloven Bundy
      David Duke
      Roy Moore
      Troy Newman
      Vladimir Putin
      Mitch McConnell
      Charles Koch
      Grover Norquist

  • jimpharo

    This is nutz. By all accounts, Cruz is deeply unpopular and disliked, but millions will come out and vote of him. He is far more strategic, smart and malicious than Trump could ever be. With Trump, I’d guess we’d get something like what we’ve seen from him in the past — bluster, stupidity, self-aggrandizement, but little interest in actual policy, etc. With Cruz, we’ve seen the most hated man in the universe catching up to a tv star.

    Cruz strikes me as the single greatest threat to the US in years — worse than Nixon. Pretty sure I’d take Drumpf over him any day of the week.

    “Mr Hitler, can you help us stop those nasty communists? Thanks!” No thanks.

    • Matt McIrvin

      I don’t care to offer opinions on who is least worst, but I think it’s interesting that so far it’s Cruz, not Trump, who has been significantly outperforming his poll numbers. That suggests he’s got followers who are particularly committed to turning out.

    • brewmn

      Agreed. I see Cruz as way worse than Trump if he gets into the White House.

      The problem here, I think, is that Trump, like the standard Republican elites, think of the rubes as votes to be harvested in the service of his agenda (though I’ll be damned if I can figure out exactly what that agenda is).

      I think Cruz actually thinks of the murderers of abortion doctors and the Cliven Bundys as the true Americans and the constituency he was born (anointed?) to serve. Janice Rogers Bron as Chief Justice. The prospect of a Cruz presidency truly terrifies me.

    • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

      By all accounts, Cruz is deeply unpopular and disliked, but millions will come out and vote of him. He is far more strategic, smart and malicious than Trump could ever be.

      I agree with this. Trump is winning based on charisma – he can get up in front of a crowd of thousands and really work the room, or deflect questions in interviews or debates with funny one-liners. It’s not too surprising that he would get a sizable chunk of support. But Cruz is hated by most people who come across him, yet he has already beaten 15 candidates and has just one more to go. Getting himself this close to the nomination is a pretty amazing feat.

  • muddy

    I can’t even bring myself to think which would be better or worse and in what ways. Instead I’d like to repeat some of my remarks from the last time this pic appeared in the blog, because that’s just how shallow I am.

    Trump is quite stout and his face/neck is much larger than it used to be. Cruz is not skinny, but Trump is clearly very much larger than that. He looks twice as thick.

    Also note Trump’s posture, he is bent forward from the waist to hide his belly. He is sticking his butt way out inside his large jacket. That way from the front it just hangs from the shoulders.

    Honestly, a different angle and he’d look like pics of hot women where they are “presenting”. Possibly one of his models taught him how to do this. Trump is clearly sensitive about it or he would not be taking these odd postures and over-generously cut suits.

    Not to mention that he paints his face like a trollop.

  • CJColucci

    What state can Cruz carry that Romney didn’t? But I fear that Trump might get some traction in the Rust Belt.

  • spearmint66

    I still get the strong sense that people are underestimating the awfulness of a Trump presidency. He is so completely outside the bounds of our experience that the temptation is to figure he’d be about as bad as Nixon, or GWB, maybe 20% worse. No. That’s about as bad as Cruz would be (OK, maybe 50% worse). Trump would be breathtakingly, order of magnitude, worse.

    He doesn’t know anything about anything. His instincts are pure authoritarian/vengeance seeking. Just imagine his cabinet–Palin, Coulter, Carson, Pollak, Kobach, Vox Day.

    • Rob in CT

      He knows what’s on the internet! Probably aware of all internet traditions, too.

  • AMK

    I dunno about you guys, but going into this election cycle, I was scared shitless that a perfect wolf in sheep’s clothing like Rubio riding waves of unlimited dark money would beat politically inept HRC in the handful of crucial counties in Florida and Ohio and Virginia. Throw in the guaranteed GOP Congress, and just like that you have neofeudal economics at home and neocon wars abroad….the past 8 years right down the drain.

    But like Bismark said, God has a special place for fools, drunks and the United States of America. Donald Trump may have single-handedly saved the Republic by pile-driving the GOP into the ground. Hillary is still politically inept, and Trump, Ted Cruz (worse) or some convention dark horse backed by gushers of dark money at every level is still dangerous. But the good guys have much better-than-even odds of winning this thing. We can all lighten up a little bit.

  • ColBatGuano

    My concern with Cruz is what happens to all that outside, Koch-like money? I could see it staying on the sidelines with Trump, but Cruz would have no problem convincing them that fossil fuel deregulation and huge tax cuts are his first order of business.

  • mds

    I’m with so-and-so above. Trump is not creating this; he’s merely a symptom. If he gets shut down in the nomination fight by someone who is same-to-worse on most issues, but has the veneer of a “reasonable” person, then the underlying problem still doesn’t go away. We’ll still have one political party dedicated to denying all legitimacy to a Democratic president**, which we all implicitly realize, as we talk about the impossibility of Clinton or Sanders to accomplish anything legislatively for the foreseeable future.

    Tarring them with over-the-top Trumpism, however, might at least garner them a little more electoral punishment. They still won’t learn their lesson, but it’s the electorate that keeps giving them power that really needs to learn the lesson. (E.g., Grassley’s drawn a new challenger over his SCOTUS obstruction, but the only way she has any shot is by running hard on “Chuck Grassley thinks Donald Trump should be permitted to fill the current Supreme Court vacancy.”)

    Meanwhile, I’m still not seeing the upside of the so-far more electable horrible guy becoming the nominee. Because President Cruz + a Republican Congress would be a nightmare of suffering for lots of people. Probably not spoiled neoliberal jumped-up self-proclaimed pundits, though. At least not at first.

    **Seriously, is President Obama currently forbidden to name another Supreme Court justice because Donald Trump is running for President? The dysfunction has been brewing for decades.

  • West

    I can’t come up with a more excruciatingly difficult imperative question in American politics in my lifetime (I’ve been voting since 1978). By “imperative” I mean not some vague abstraction of a question, but a question that’s going to get answered one way or another. Someone here’s probably going to come up with one, but I’m stumped.

    I perceive Cruz as potentially more explicitly evil in his beliefs, I find Trump potentially more explicitly evil in his loose cannon actions and narcissistic modern day fascism. I could elaborate but the point is: the list of negatives on both sides is incredibly long, there are no positives on either side. And Clinton is a truly lousy campaigner and Sanders would have weaknesses too, if he pulled it out (I don’t think he will but what the hell do I know).

    This election makes me almost physically ill when I consider that in American politics, any damned thing can happen. Ending up with President Trump or President Cruz is possible, however unlikely. I don’t think Clinton is bad enough to blow it: wish I had more confidence in that. Either of Trump or Cruz would be an unmitigated catastrophe if the Republicans hold the Senate. We’d be way through the looking glass except it wouldn’t be a fantasy.

    As a Democrat whose primary has already happened, I find gaming out the Trump vs Cruz scenarios to have less value (for me) than just arm-twisting every not-so-diligent voter I know to get their sorry asses to the polling stations in November. If Pennsylvania looks at all in doubt, I may feel obliged to dust off my Pee-Ay accent and go stay with my sister for a week for some GOTV work. I’m in MA now so I sure as hell hope I won’t be needed for that here, if Clinton has somehow blown it so bad that MA is in doubt come November, we are all screwed.

    • los

      Clinton administration will not be a disaster, because there are other Democrats with influence (including voters).
      I don’t think even Cruz as President would make The End Times Inevitable. There is too much inertia an opposing interests in the power system.

  • TroubleMaker13

    I don’t think there’s any question that a losing Trump campaign would be worse for the country than a losing Cruz one. Trump being a major party candidate likely means more violence and a further debasement of already fragile political norms. And the lesson that many Republican elites would take from a loss was that Trump lost because he wasn’t conservative enough. (They would try to say that about Cruz, but that’s obviously a tougher sell.)

    Hasn’t this ship already sailed though? Trump already has enough momentum for this and if the GOP does manage to squeeze him out somehow I just don’t see him and his mob going away quietly.

    • alittleheadache

      I see where you’re coming from, but I think the affront to human dignity of putting the country through a general election with Trump as a major party nominee would be even greater than that of dealing with him as a third-party candidate (or fascist free-agent just holding rallies to hold rallies, or whatever he’s going to do). If only because, in that scenario, the Democratic nominee will have to stand there debating him on TV as if he’s someone to debate with, and his face will be everywhere for months, and tens of millions of people who don’t really pay attention to what the candidates do but just stick with their party affiliation will actually vote for him and remember him as a guy who’s legitimate enough that they voted for him.

      I agree, though, that Trump isn’t likely to just walk away after the convention if he’s not the nominee. He and his followers will still be around. Hell, they’re probably going to be one of the first big issues on the domestic level for whoever’s president next.

  • DAS

     Hillary Clinton is an an inauthentic neoliberal

    Actually I hope Hillary Clinton is an inauthentic neoliberal. My fear is that she is an authentic neoliberal.

    President Sanders would not unilaterally force Israel to dismantle the Palestinian settlements

    I see Sanders, a somewhat curmudgeonly older Jewish man, being most comfortable getting his foreign policy advice from people like him, e.g. retired bigwigs from the Israeli security state who really, really are tired of having to deal with the settlements and want Israel out. Of course that means AIPAC, et al, will be against Sanders because the last thing “pro-Israeli” groups seem to want to do is anything that actually will help Israel’s security situation. OTOH, the left who considers Tel Aviv an illegal settlementsettlement likely wouldn’t be happy with Sanders either.

  • efgoldman

    The possibility of Trump transgressing constitutional norms and inciting racially motivated violence is terrifying

    Haven’t we been worried, since January of 2009, that an African American president would incite the RWNJs in the form of militias, Klan wannabes and random assholes?
    Seems to me, if that’s a criterion for for the president we want, we need to dig up Zombie Sanctus Ronaldus, because I can’t see the wingers tamping down the anger if either HRC or Sanders is elected.
    Social media being what it has become, I think that genie has long since left the lamp, and it can’t be squeezed back in. So let the Trump and the opossum on his head play out, and hope it fractures the Republiklowns even more.

  • LeeEsq

    The true answer is that both Cruz and Trump are equally bad for different reasons. Trump is much more likely to engage in extreme extra-constittuional actions than Cruz. He is coming from the business world and business people make poor elected officials because they are too used to having their own way most of the time. His demagoguery is also not very encouraging in this regard. Trump’s positive is that the American welfare state is likely to remain in tact. He will also probably select the least bad officials than other Republicans even if only as a mistake.

    Cruz will play Constitutional hardball and has all sorts of beliefs that are really bad but is more likely to stay within the bounds of the Constitution. I can’t see him attempting a military coup the way I can imagine Trump doing so. The bad part is that Cruz will pick some really bad people for judgeships and other federal positions and can do a lot of damage domestically and internationally with his power.

    • los

      Cruz will play Constitutional hardball and has all sorts of beliefs that are really bad but is more likely to stay within the bounds of the Constitution
      The Robert Activists have already battered the bounds of the Constitution. Cruz would enthusiastically join that pursuit.

It is main inner container footer text