3 May '16    home | previous

Voters Killing "Trusted" Conservatism

Running for president, Ted Cruz calls himself a "trusted conservative" and has described a trusted conservative as someone who values of cutting taxes, of lifting regulations and of seeing private security job growth as a result. He says.

What I can tell you is that people want a clear and meaningful choice. You know Hillary and Donald Trump, they are flip sides of the same coin. They agree on issue after issue after issue....Trump believes in government. Donald and Hillary are Washington insiders. Both of them have gotten rich using government power to further their personal interests. And if you're fed up with the corruption in Washington, Donald and Hillary have been enmeshed in that.

The conservative website Newsmax weighs in:

If conservatism is the dominating factor in how you vote, there is no other choice for you in this campaign than Ted Cruz," Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show last month. "This is the closest in our lifetime we have ever been to Ronald Reagan, in terms of doctrinaire, understandable, articulated, implementable conservatism. There is nobody closer.

Between now and November we are going to hear more about candidates selecting their balance point between pure free enterprise and pure statist economics. Hillary Clinton (who I voted for in the primary) is described in the New York Times as,

believing in a "mixed economy" in which government serves as an essential supplement to and regulator of markets, using its strong "thumb" (as the political economist Charles Lindblom once described it) to assist and counterbalance the nimble "fingers" of the market." (17 Mar '16)

Described in his American Spectator (10 Feb '16), Emmett Tyrrell Jr draws from the same mindset regarding Hillary that he has taken toward President Obama, whom he has described as a "socialist." Tyrrell writes that Hillary Clinton is,

...still promising to burden us with more crackpot plans and more extravagant spending unto Utopia.

Purity in conservatism got a boost during Obama's first year as president from what became known as the Tea Party movement. The movement supported Marco Rubio for the Senate in 2010 and Cruz in 2012. The movement denounced what it called RINOs – Republicans in Name Only – Republicans insufficient in adhering to a true conservatism. Tea Party activists called for reducing the national debt and the federal budget deficit, believing this could be done with less government spending and lower taxes.

Meanwhile, we have a report by Pew Research released on April 28:

The Republican Party's image, already quite negative, has slipped since last fall. Currently 33% of the public has a favorable impression of the Republican Party, while 62% have an unfavorable view. Unfavorable opinions of the GOP are now as high as at any point since 1992.

By contrast, public views of the Democratic Party are unchanged since October. Currently, 45% of the public has a favorable impression of the Democratic Party, while 50% have an unfavorable opinion.

The unfavorable opinions by Republicans with their own party cannot be attributed only to their dislike for an abandonment of the kind of conservatism advocated by Cruz. It seems to be the voters who are killing "true conservatism." One sign was Obama's reelection in 2012.

In the general election for president in 2016, those favoring Cruz's trusted conservativism will have to refrain from voting or they will have to vote for what they see as the lesser of two evils.

As I see it, good politics requires finding an appropriate balance. The Soviet Union never achieved its goal of pure communism. There is no such thing as pure socialism (whatever that would be). And pure capitalism, like pure freedom and anarchism, is a fantasy.

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Tonight, Cruz lost in Indiana. God is said to work in mysterious ways, and according to Cruz is supposed to be interested in politics. But the Almighty didn't see fit to give him a victory today. So Cruz said that "with boundless optimism for the long-term future of our nation" he was suspending his campaign.

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Ross Douthat has an opinion piece in the NYT this morning (4 May) titled "The Defeat of True Conservatism." He writes:

True Conservatism likes to portray itself as part of an unbroken tradition running back through Ronald Reagan to Barry Goldwater and the Founding Fathers. It has roots in that past, but it's also a much more recent phenomenon, conceived in the same spirit as Bushism 2.0 but with the opposite intent.

This philosophy found champions on talk radio, it shaped the Tea Party's zeal, it influenced Paul Ryan's budgets, it infused Mitt Romney's "You built that" rhetoric. But it was only in the government shutdown of 2013 that it found its real standard-bearer: Ted Cruz.

Trump proved that movement conservative ideas and litmus tests don't really have any purchase on millions of Republican voters.

Someone comments on Cruz's God and the Constitution thing:

Our founding fathers were liberals and deists. The "constitutionalists" don't know American history. Maybe the Republicans will get back to reality. Also, The Republican conservatives certainly do not follow the teachings of their Christian faith - for they hate the poor and underserved. The wizard has finally been exposed by Toto. Let's get back to running our country, there is a lot of work to do.

Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.