One of the strangest things about this bewildering election cycle has been the sudden and seemingly unthinking lurch these past couple weeks to embrace and anoint Ted Cruz as the only savior of the Republican Party. There is good probability, in fact, that within 24 hours of the time I write and post this, this anointment will be something of a fait accompli, with the election results today almost certain to disqualify Marco Rubio as a viable alternative to Trump, and with John Kasich’s candidacy having been, it would seem, condemned to futility from the outset, no matter what he does, in one long long, sustained, self-destructive exercise in self-fulfilling prophecy. If that is what the future holds, I feel compelled, like Hooker, “lest things should pass away as in a dream,” to register and articulate my dissent, in some small hope of changing some minds in the short term, but more importantly, to provide a reference point in the longer term.
I should note that there are many conservative voters out there who, for ideological reasons, do in fact positively support Ted Cruz and what he stands for. I do not expect to convince folks of this sort in the course of this brief post; to do so, after all, would require mounting a persuasive argument against Cruz’s ideological commitments on issues such as immigration, the environment, tax policy, foreign policy, and healthcare. In the interest of full disclosure, I think his views on all of these fronts to range from dangerously naïve to morally noxious, and obviously this plays a significant role in my refusal to support him. That said, I do not think these ideological differences are the decisive issue. I have very profound differences on policy issues with candidates I am willing to support. As I shall go on to argue, the real danger of Ted Cruz lies elsewhere.
In recent weeks, though, I have encountered many other conservative voters and leaders, who, while sharing many of my concerns about Ted Cruz’s policy commitments on various issues, have nonetheless rapidly pivoted to his side on much more utilitarian grounds—namely, that “He has the best chance of beating Trump.” I am far from contesting the legitimacy (as long as one is clear about what one is doing) of such strategic lesser-evil voting. But one has to first be sure that it is in fact strategic and that the candidate in question is in fact the lesser evil. I am not convinced of either in this case.