Welcome to the official start of the 2016 Presidential Campaign. The “Clown Car” is the best way to describe the incredible collection of demagogues, extremists and ignoramuses that appear to be staking out their positions for the 2016 Republican nomination, however Ted Cruz was the first to make it official. He made his announcement this morning in a speech before a packed house of students at the very conservative Liberty University,founded in 1971 by evangelist Jerry Falwell. Certainly nothing he said was surprising. His message, heard many times before,was one of anti-establishment conservatism that took not only the Obama Administration to task, but the Republican establishment as well. In doing so he continued to separate himself both from the Beltway and his own party. However,if anyone thinks that his candidacy should be taken lightly,they had better think again. Cruz may ride in a “clown car”, but his intent, his message and his campaign are deadly serious and potentially deadly dangerous.
We sometimes make the mistake of listening to someone like Cruz and writing them off as extremist crackpots. They say things that we believe are so extreme that we can’t imagine anyone taking them seriously. It appears to us that his words are spoken just to create a reaction, but they lack both substance and believability. We know that his statements are often based on erroneous facts and on numbers that simply don’t add up. His actions, often taken alone, appear as if he is simply grandstanding just to get into the spotlight. We can’t imagine that anyone could possibly listen to him and view him as a viable candidate for the Presidency of the United States. However, are we making the dangerous mistake of writing him off just because we believe he belongs in the “clown car”?
No doubt, Cruz has many challenges ahead of him, first and foremost fundraising. He needs to raise an enormous amount of money just to compete in the primaries. Will he find enough supporters willing to put their fortunes behind this “true believer”? He wouldn’t be the first candidate to start off with a bang and fizzle early on because of lack of funds. If he should be able to sustain himself for the duration of the primary season, he will have to pull a high enough percentage of the votes in the primaries to be invited to participate in the debates. Right now he is polling only 4%, too low to earn an invitation. However, if he succeeds and participates in the debates, be aware that all bets are off.
Cruz is a talented orator with the ability to dominate the stage and set the tone. He will not hesitate to say things that will place his opponents in a rhetorical box and squeeze them into submission. He will force his opponents into taking positions that they would rather avoid articulating. He will not hesitate to flamboyantly break the rules and dare the moderator to shut him down. In fact, he would love nothing more. His goal will be to become the lead story coming out of each debate, and he knows exactly how to achieve that. When you are a demagogue and a true believer, all rules are made by the people who are trying to keep you, the purveyor of truth, down. If you have to break those rules to get that truth out, then so be it.
I have no doubt that I will enjoy the spectacle presented by the debates and the speeches and absurd statements made by Cruz and the other candidates. No doubt Cruz and others will pull all of the candidates further and further to the right, making their positions unpalatable to the general electorate. It will be easy to laugh them off as wholly unworthy of becoming the GOP candidate for the Presidency of the United States. Yet one of them will. If 2012 has taught us nothing else, it has to have taught us that we can laugh if we want, but we had better not forget to vote. While the spectacle will be fun and amusing, the game is deadly serious. Let’s make sure that we win.