With the effective collapse last night of the Marco Rubio for President campaign, combined with John Kasich going absolutely nowhere fast, the 2016 Republican race for President appears to be coming down to a two-man race between neo-fascist demagogue/bigot Donald Trump and hard-right theocratic extremist Ted Cruz. Of course, if you’re anyone other than a hard-right authoritarian, fundamentalist, extremist and/or bigot, that choice should horrify you. And it DOES appear to horrify much of the Republican “establishment,” such as it is, who utterly loathe Cruz and utterly fear Trump. But from a Democratic perspective, should we care which one of these two nuts, Cruz or Trump, wins the GOP nomination? Or should we still hold out hope for some sort of “contested” GOP convention? Here’s how I see it at this point.
- Ted Cruz – Given his almost complete unlikeability (note that those who know him best hate him, and it is NOT because he’s much more conservative than a lot of his Senate colleagues, a true Ken Cuccinelli/EW Jackson Republican, it’s because he’s just an odious human being), combined with his appeal almost exclusively to the extreme religious fundamentalist wing of the Republican Party Cruz should be the easiest Republican for Democrats to beat in November. In addition to Cruz’s super-narrow appeal — one which almost certainly wouldn’t extend to more traditional, pro-business, “Chamber of Commerce”-type Republicans or to independents — this oily freak also would not seem to pose a serious threat to win back any of the 26 states Barack Obama won in 2012. That would mean the Democratic nominee would start off with 332 electoral votes this fall, far more than the 270 electoral votes needed to become president, and with the potential to tack on a few more states as well (North Carolina? Arizona? Georgia? Indiana?). I’d also point to the 2013 Virginia election, in which Cruz clones Ken Cuccinelli and EW Jackson (2/3 of the “Extreme Team,” along with fellow wingnut Mark “Criminalize Miscarriages” Obenshain) got 45% of the vote each, as a possible ceiling for this guy. Finally, given that the most-likely scenario at this point whereby Cruz becomes the GOP nominee in 2016 involves some sort of “contested” convention (more on that in a minute), not a majority of delegates accrued in the GOP nominating contest, Cruz would be as divisive and weak a GOP nominee as we’ve seen in…forever? Yeah, I’ll admit it, I’m kind of salivating at the thought of Republicans nominating this “wacko bird” (as Sen. John McCain correctly called him).
- Donald Trump – Despite (or because of?) being a dangerous bigot, neo-fascist and authoritarian, I believe that Trump actually poses a greater threat than Cruz does to actually win the presidency this November. No, I’m not saying Trump would have a good chance of winning, but at least Trump hasn’t been a consistent, hard-core, far-right-wing, theocratic extremist like Cruz. Which means two things: a) that Trump is malleable, will basically say (or profess to believe?) anything, as he doesn’t appear to have any moorings other than egomania, out-of-control narcissism, sociopathy, bigotry (or at least willingness to pander to bigots) and dictatorial tendencies; and b) Trump theoretically could have at least a CHANCE of appealing to a broader electorate than Cruz. The scary thing is that there’s actually a large audience for the vitriol, anger, hatred, and other “worst angels of our nature” stuff among tens of millions of Americans. And while a Trump nomination would undoubtedly spur HUGE turnout by Latinos, African Americans and liberal whites (particularly women) to stop him, what worries me is that millions of white, working-class “Reagan Democrats,” folks who might not turn out to vote otherwise, might enthusiastically pull the lever for Trump this November. Could that swing a few states – Ohio? Florida? even Virginia? – from the “blue” to the “red” column? Doubtful, but I’d say marginally more likely than if Cruz is the GOP nominee. Finally, we’ll see how many of the Republicans and conservatives who have vowed never to vote for Trump in November actually hold to those vows. I’m skeptical, particularly given that in 2013 here in Virginia, 45% of Republicans voted for freakin’ EW Jackson, proving that there are approximately 45% of Republicans who will literally vote for ANYONE with an “R” after their name. On the other hand, Donald Trump is about as ludicrous as they come, a bloviating blowhard who in a sane world should get no more than 0.0% of the vote. But of course, a world where Trump can be the nominee of one of two major U.S. political parties is clearly NOT a sane world, so who the hell knows???
- Contested convention nominates someone other than Trump or Cruz – This is actually my favorite scenario, both from a political junkie and blogger point of view, as well as from a partisan Democratic perspective. First off, this would be a vicious bloodbath, playing out for days on national TV. Can you imagine how that would look to most Americans? Second, just picture how damaged Republicans would stagger out of Cleveland this July in the aftermath of overriding the will of 70% or more of voters in Republican primaries and caucuses by not choosing either Trump or Cruz, possibly going to an “establishment” (and yes, these words are all relative) choice like Romney or Ryan — or even Rubio? That would be wild. Third, lick your chops (if you’re a Democrat or anyone who cares about your country’s future) at the thought of Donald Trump picking up his marbles and saying “screw all of you,” declaring a run as the “true” GOP nominee against the “imposter” nominee (Romney? Ryan? Rubio? other?) the party poobahs forced on everyone? It would be utter chaos, and it also would almost guarantee a landslide victory for the Democratic presidential nominee in November. On the other hand, it COULD hurt Democrats running for U.S. Senate and House of Representatives if it spurred high turnout of right-wing-leaning voters, who split for president between Trump and Romney/Ryan/Rubio/whoever, but who then vote Republican “down ballot?” In that sense, I might actually prefer option #2 over option #3.
Anyway, those are my thoughts; how about you?
P.S. I just saw a great quote on this topic: “’We’re left with a bully and a zealot,’ Republican media consultant Kim Alfano said.”