January 16, 2016

Trump and Cruz: How Nervous Should We Be?

Ted Cruz, official portrait, 113th CongressHere's a question for my fellow liberals: should we be celebrating the fact that Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are leading in the polls as we near the start of primary season?

In watching the last Republican presidential debate the other night, I couldn't help feeling a bit nervous. The establishment candidates, as bad as they are, strike me as at least being sane. Not surprisingly, they are also losing. Should this be cause for celebration or anxiety? Assuming you do not want any of these Republican candidates in the White House, is it good or bad that Trump and Cruz are out in front?

One of the front runners, Sen. Cruz, appears to be a theocrat in the Mike Huckabee tradition. I have to think this would make him a poor choice for atheists, just as it has made him the darling of many evangelical fundamentalist Christians. The other front runner, Mr. Trump, strikes me as unpredictable. Prior to this race, he seemed far more liberal than anyone else on the stage. I'm still not sure whether he has changed his mind or is merely saying what he knows it will take to get through the Republican primary. That, combined with his ego and temperament, is what leads me to describe him as unpredictable. Of the two, I'd take Trump; however, it is difficult to imagine either of them in the oval office.

The other way to look at this would be to say that neither Trump nor Cruz has any real chance of winning the general election against Hillary Clinton (or even Sen. Bernie Sanders). If this is true, one of them winning the Republican primary might be a good thing. The problem with this line of thinking is that we never know how Clinton (or Sanders) might self-destruct between now and the general election. I don't see this as likely, but I'd hate to think that we could end up with a President Cruz or Trump if it were to happen.