March 18, 2016

Pedantic Conservative Pragmatist?

The Kevin Williamson article jk cited below does more than brutally expose Donald Trump as anything but a conservative - it also explains why your "pedantic conservative friend" [yours truly] will correct anyone who claims that America's form of government is a democracy. "It's a republic!" he will insist. (...) Your pedantic conservative friend probably is supporting Ted Cruz."

Why is this so important to pedantic conservatives?

Democracy, he [John Adams] wrote, "never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty."
So yes, I do support Ted Cruz. I believe he would be an excellent president and would do more than any other viable candidate to "take the government boot off the back of the necks of America's small business owners" and to reduce the size and burden of government in general.

But I must admit serious doubts that he can win a general election. His strategy seems to be rooted in energizing the Republican and free-market base and beating the Democratic election-winning machine at its own game. Color me skeptical, or at the very least fearful.

Donald Trump has demonstrated a tremendous talent for magnifying turnout, yet of the twenty statewide contests he has won to date, fourteen of them have been open contests - meaning some of his support likely came from Democrats and may not be reliable when his opponent is another Democrat. (Not to mention that "isn't a conservative of any stripe" thingy.)

So who can defeat the Democrat and save the Supreme Court, and the very idea of individual liberty in America for the next few generations? If you don't know, he will happily tell you:

"Neither of those guys can win a general election, so maybe they're spoiling it for the Republican Party and for the conservative movement," Kasich said of Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) "It's unlikely that anybody is going to achieve enough delegates to avoid a convention, and for those who worry about a convention, it'll be right in the open. I mean, there's no closed rooms, there's nothing but total transparency . . . and you talk to people in Pennsylvania, they'll tell you, I can win a general election."

And if Kasich stays in the race it is most likely that not only Trump will be denied a majority of delegates on the all-important first ballot, but so will Cruz. In such an instance it is difficult to imagine someone other than Trump being nominated by a peaceful process - difficult, but not impossible. Imagine that Kasich and Cruz were to form a unity ticket. I can see that alliance uniting the party (except for the Trump zealots) and winning the nomination. And, most importantly, I can see it winning a general election. Although to do that I'm afraid the top slot on the ticket will have to be assigned to the candidate who thinks "humans contributed to climate change." Very well then, it's better than any other realistic alternative. Damn. Having now said this out loud, I need a stiff drink.

UPDATE: Regarding the Kasich-Cruz, or even Cruz-Kasich ticket, NRO's Maggie Gallagher doesn't see it happening.

So Kasich must be betting that the partyís donor class and insiders will be so tickled by his pro-immigration, donít-worry-about-religious-liberty stance that they will be willing to destroy the party by nominating him.
GOP 2016 Primary Posted by JohnGalt at March 18, 2016 6:39 PM

Some updates to this from my visit to the Boulder County Republican Assembly today. All of the delegates who sought election to the state assembly were Cruz supporters, except one each for Trump and Kasich. Predictably, neither of those two was elected. I told the young woman who spoke of Kasich's electability that I thought she had the right idea and she did a brave thing supporting Kasich after a steady stream of Cruz endorsements. In the balloting she earned 6 votes from a cadre of thirty-some.

Among other things I found remarkable was that the GOP currently has no candidate for Boulder District Attorney or for the County Commissioner seat in the first district (the incumbent Democrat is the chair of the BoCo commissioners and is an alternative energy, anti-GMO zealot - but you already knew that because I said she is a Boulder Democrat.

The news of the day was the Republican nominee for the 2nd district commissioner seat - Mr. Paul Danish. Yes, "The Danish Plan" Paul Danish.

"That's curious" thought I, "I didn't know he was a Republican." That's because he isn't. Err, wasn't.

Danish was misquoted in the linked article. He didn't say "Democrats no longer do" believe in American exceptionalism. He said they no longer believe that when America fights wars, it should win them. He also said the environmentalists anti-GMO stance is anti-science, and that the Democratic party's "group-identity politics is the new racism."

The fellow sitting next to me said, "Took you long enough to notice." I chuckled and then responded charitably, "Well, he had a lot of political inertia to overcome."

Posted by: johngalt at March 20, 2016 1:05 AM

Thanks for the post and update.

Posted by: jk at March 21, 2016 12:14 PM

A testament to the bizarro world campaign that Gov. Kasich is starting to look better all the time.

Yes, he's a "compassionate conservative" who would greatly expand the size and scope of government. But he's the last Republican without a caveman attitude on immigration. A third Bush term has sadly started to look like the best case scenario.

Posted by: jk at March 21, 2016 12:20 PM

For an "elephant" I have a short memory. I remember Kasich being part of the "contract with America" crowd that balanced the budget (for which Bubba took the credit) and therefore think his positions may be redeemable as "mainstream" more than "big government establishment crony." More investigation is certainly in order, and as times change so do a country's needs in a chief executive. The nominee who would stand athwart Leviatian's progress and shout "STOP" doesn't do the country any good if he doesn't win.

Posted by: johngalt at March 21, 2016 1:25 PM

Good memory. His Chairmanship in the 104th, "Spirit of '94" Congress is a testament to all that is good and true. In 2000, he was my first pick; when he dropped and threw support to Gov. Bush, I dutifully followed.

I did not use the word "crony" but he is somewhat proudly the antithesis of the small government crowd. He boasts of his Medicare expansion in the Buckeye State under Obamacare. Bush said "when people are hurting, Government has to step in to help" and Gov. Kasich is very much in this mold.

Third Bush term -- hey, we could do A LOT worse.

Posted by: jk at March 21, 2016 7:57 PM | What do you think? [5]