Watching the Republican debate the other night provided quite a spectacle for viewers. Donald Trump calling into question Ted Cruz’s birthright might be the greatest moment of debate theater this election cycle. Even more amusing was Ted Cruz’s response, twisting Constitutional interpretation to include parents of “natural born” citizens, calling out Trump’s eligibility (and several other GOP candidates). As much as I would enjoy watching SCOTUS back Cruz’s bizarre interpretation, the whole issue is trivial at best. Voters shouldn’t vote for Cruz or Trump based on where they were born but should pass on both for the benefit of common sense.
Polling indicates both Trump and Cruz are the most polarizing figures in the 2016 GOP field. Both are self-branded anti-establishment candidates and proactively look for ways to disavow party leadership. This creates distrust with establishment voters. Such extreme strategies put both candidates in a better primary position with a specific voting demographic yet a difficult position across the general election. Their constant effort to one-up each other also pushes the entire party to the far-right. For example, Trump called for the blocking of all Syrian refugees. Cruz then called for accepting only Christian refugees. Cruz proposed a border wall. Trump countered by proposing a wall two feet higher than Cruz’s and have Mexico magically pay for it. Trump claims to be a Bible-reading Conservative while Cruz claims that Jesus beat him in bowling last weekend. Every time either candidate opens their mouth another independent voter is crushed mercilessly without out a hint of remorse.
— MATTY ICE (@Donkey_Feed) January 16, 2016
It’s becoming apparent that both candidates have no real interest in actually winning the general election. Presidential elections always come down to three states, Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania; each currently polling stronger for any Democratic nominee contrasted with Trump or Cruz. One might ask why Republicans are willing to win the primary battle and lose the general election war. Such short sightedness is not unusual for Republicans. Since 2008, several extreme Tea-Party candidates have lost to moderate Democrats in red states, most notably Sharon Angle’s loss to then Majority Leader Harry Reid. In fact, GOP control of the Senate should have flipped as early as 2010 had extreme candidates been avoided. Yet Republican voters ignore history given their crippling blindness for either of the party-leading “truth-tellers”.
As a Democrat, I am silently rooting for Donald Trump or Ted Cruz to win the nomination. Given their loose rhetoric pandering to right-wing voters, each candidate’s Pandora’s Box of statements will be a major liability. Winning the White House is bigger than any one candidate and I will select the strongest general election Democrat. However, if Republicans waste their votes nominating Trump or Cruz, I might actually write Obama’s name in for a 3rd term. Given the “anybody-but-Trump/Cruz” attitude that permeates independent voters, President Obama might actually win.