When Things Get Tough, Who Will Stand Strong?

 

When political headwinds bite, entrenched interests wield their power, and intractable problems require more than tough words, who is best equipped to stand strong? During primary season, promises abound. But when boldness goes out of fashion — and when those easily-spoken promises prove hard to fulfill — which candidate has the conviction, courage, and capability to follow through?

In this field of moderate governors, first-term senators, and inexperienced outsiders, I’m not finding an obvious answer. So consider this a chance to make a case for your candidate.

To me, the Walker campaign demonstrated that national media — even conservative media — is not always insightful when evaluating a candidate on local issues, so I am prepared to question the narrative on all the other candidates. What was Rubio really like as Florida House Speaker? Is Ted Cruz really as conservative and anti-establishment as he portrays himself, or is that a convenient political pose for a junior Texas Senator? Has Christie actually done the best he can on guns with his liberal legislature, or is he dangerously weak on the Second Amendment?

I don’t fully trust national coverage on any of these questions. So, if the record needs to be set straight, I’ll even listen to the praises of John Kasich. Is he really as squishy as all that? Better? Worse?

Right now, it’s easy for candidates to cut Washington down to size with their rhetoric, throw its establishment out in the cold, abolish its agencies, and verbally conquer problems from immigration to the debt. I don’t put much stock in that rhetoric, nor in details of policy proposals that won’t survive Congress intact. I’m more interested in evidence of genuine conviction on basic issues: religious liberty, the Supreme Court, Obamacare, the ever-expanding intrusion of the federal government.

I don’t want a candidate to tell me what I want to hear. I want to see him seek to persuade those who might not want to hear what he has to say. I want to see promises turned into action. I want evidence of real conviction.

I’m a still-undecided voter, and those are my criteria. Can you tell me why you believe your candidate fits them best?

There are 21 comments.

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  1. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    To be clear upfront, I lean Rubio (and have already priced in Gang of Eight, and will not be voting based on immigration policy). But I want to hear other arguments. I would love to be convinced, for instance, that my deep queasiness about Ted Cruz is unnecessary.

    • #1
  2. livingthehighlife Inactive
    livingthehighlife
    @livingthehighlife

    Wish I had a multi-sided coin to flip, although my preference is being narrowed down to either Cruz or Rubio.

    Our primary is a little more than a month away, so I guess a decision will be required soon.

    • #2
  3. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Ted Cruz before March 2015 is someone that stood strong against the status quo. Now, not so much.

    The rest of them: Wal Mart Lawn Chair + Hurricane = Fold Up

    • #3
  4. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    I like Cruz much more than any others. The GOPe preference for Trump over Cruz may be a signal of some sort regarding Cruz’s fidelity to his stated principles. Anyone else in the field including Democrats will continue the unrelenting spending and none wants to face the hammer Cruz might wield. If Cruz is nominated and loses, no big deal, all the others respond to the spending interests anyway.

    • #4
  5. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    BrentB67:Ted Cruz before March 2015 is someone that stood strong against the status quo. Now, not so much.

    The rest of them: Wal Mart Lawn Chair + Hurricane = Fold Up

    Did he stand strong? Or did he stand because it made his political name?

    As for the rest of them, I worded it positively, but you could put it as “least bad” just as easily. I realize we’re dealing with some political compromise and some rhetorical games from every one of them, but I also believe it is realistic to hope that there are at least some issues on which some of them won’t give away the whole store.

    For example I won’t vote for Jeb Bush — I do not think he should ever have run — but I am reasonably confident that he is genuinely pro-life, and that he would be willing to take a political hit on the issue.

    Here’s what makes me look hard at Rubio: I hear him making a case for conservatism that he’s prepared to defend in a general election. To some people, that means he sounds squishier. To me, it indicates that he’s serious about taking those policies all the way, and not running away the minute he wins the nomination. I have concerns, but there’s also some reason to hope President Rubio could be very, very effective — and conservative.

    I want to dig a little more into his time in the Florida House.

    • #5
  6. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Bob Thompson:I like Cruz much more than any others. The GOPe preference for Trump over Cruz may be a signal of some sort regarding Cruz’s fidelity to his stated principles. Anyone else in the field including Democrats will continue the unrelenting spending and none wants to face the hammer Cruz might wield. If Cruz is nominated and loses, no big deal, all the others respond to the spending interests anyway.

    I don’t see that as a plus for Cruz (except for Branstad’s opposition in Iowa, which clearly indicates he thinks there’s a difference on ethanol). I don’t think it’s nearly so clear that the personal animosity towards Cruz is because of his principles. I’m not sure but that it doesn’t reflect badly on all sides.

    Personally, I don’t actually want someone who makes Republicans go screamingly mad and digging in their heels.  I want someone who will make them vote conservative and like it.

    • #6
  7. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Leigh:

    BrentB67:Ted Cruz before March 2015 is someone that stood strong against the status quo. Now, not so much.

    The rest of them: Wal Mart Lawn Chair + Hurricane = Fold Up

    Did he stand strong? Or did he stand because it made his political name?

    I think he was principled. If he was not, he fooled a lot of people in Texas. Additionally, he did’t make many (any?) friends in DC with some of his tough stands.

    If he was a political animal gunning for higher office his entire Senate tenure then I don’t think he would’ve shifted gears so noticeably when he declared for President.

    As for the rest of them, I worded it positively, but you could put it as “least bad” just as easily. I realize we’re dealing with some political compromise and some rhetorical games from every one of them, but I also believe it is realistic to hope that there are at least some issues on which some of them won’t give away the whole store.

    I don’t think there is an issue of substance they won’t give up to satisfy their donor base. That isn’t a hit on any one of them in particular. They are all equally compromised in this regard.

    Here is a possible exception and I say this based solely on random media perception: Bernie Sanders seems genuinely committed to his cause not unlike Obama.

    • #7
  8. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Leigh:

    Bob Thompson:I like Cruz much more than any others. The GOPe preference for Trump over Cruz may be a signal of some sort regarding Cruz’s fidelity to his stated principles. Anyone else in the field including Democrats will continue the unrelenting spending and none wants to face the hammer Cruz might wield. If Cruz is nominated and loses, no big deal, all the others respond to the spending interests anyway.

    I don’t see that as a plus for Cruz (except for Branstad’s opposition in Iowa, which clearly indicates he thinks there’s a difference on ethanol). I don’t think it’s nearly so clear that the personal animosity towards Cruz is because of his principles. I’m not sure but that it doesn’t reflect badly on all sides.

    Personally, I don’t actually want someone who makes Republicans go screamingly mad and digging in their heels. I want someone who will make them vote conservative and like it.

    I am not sure your last sentence is possible, but respect your posture on the matter.

    • #8
  9. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    I commend you for comment #1. Transparency and revealing any potential bias is very much respected and often lacking elsewhere on Ricochet, especially the Main Feed.

    • #9
  10. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    I like them all compared to any Democrat but specifics of tax and regulatory policy tells a lot.  Complex reforms are open to special interests and will be shaped by them.  That’s everybody but Carson, Carly and Cruz.  Cruz’s tax plan is very simple across the board and if passed as he proposes it, eliminates the most important tool of crony capitalism.   I’ve yet to see this kind of specifics on regulations except repealing Dodd Frank and Obamacare.  That’s a good start, but I want to hear something about the regulatory process itself.  Carly addresses this and does so correctly, regulation is the source of stagnation and still more crony capitalism.    Cruz seems to have back bone, I get the same feeling about Carly and Carson.   Rubio says all the right things and says them better than any candidate we’ve had since Reagan, better than Reagan, but he was so easily sucked in by the Gang of eight and it was obvious to me that the whole process was aimed to destroy him and it worked.    He didn’t see it coming.   That’s incredible.

    • #10
  11. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Leigh:
    “Did he stand strong? Or did he stand because it made his political name?”

    Well that didn’t take long.

    • #11
  12. John Hanson Thatcher
    John Hanson
    @JohnHanson

    Before identifying a choice, a bit on why:

    1. Having “Political skills or experience” is a strong negative because politicians tend to say what is needed to get elected and ignore their constituent’s desires and compromise principle in favor of personal power.
    2. The Presidency is a job no one is prepared for or has experience doing.  Senators don’t know how to run things, and governors are too used to a smaller scale, without most of the power a president really has, e.g. Commander in Chief role, so everyone has to learn the job of President, and an ability to learn and respect for American traditions and a love of country is essential.
    3. Being a member of the current establishment is a strong negative, because I am very tired of promises to do conservative things, that are forgotten as soon as a vote occurs, or it isn’t convenient personally.
    4. Being very articulate in speaking to the non-political junkie and explaining conservative principles in a way they can understand is essential.
    5. Having excellent inter-personal skills is essential as this is what is required to actually make progress with a conservative program lacking pre-existing majority support.
    6. Understanding how to delegate responsibility, and the ability to hire the best individuals for a position is critical, since a President’s job success  is determined more by who he appoints to the important positions in his administration, that his own performance.
    7. Having a record, of being a conservative is also critical, people vying for an elected position often say what they think is necessary to be elected, not what they believe, so we need to look at their entire life, and what they did, NOT what they say.  This goes far beyond what they did or said when in a public position, but has to include the whole life, at least since they started to vote.

    Based on all of this, and selecting from the present list of possibilities I favor Cruz, and could live with Rubio, and will likely hold my nose and vote for anyone else who winds up with the Republication nomination, without any expectations for conservative success, and in the case of Trump a strong suspicion of massive conservative failure.

    • #12
  13. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Leigh: Personally, I don’t actually want someone who makes Republicans go screamingly mad and digging in their heels. I want someone who will make them vote conservative and like it.

    I think this skill is highly undervalued. I know that Rubio and I are not in lock step on immigration, and we have some differences on entitlement reform, but his ability to speak conservatism fluently and as his first language is an enormous benefit in my eyes. The way he mixes sober realism with lofty idealism is quite astonishing.

    As far as full throated conservatism goes, Cruz has the ideology down pat, and has spent several years in the Senate being exactly the kind of gadfly to the establishment we need. But, would that ability to get under the skin of those whose support he needs for legislation hurt our chances of reform? That said, I’m pretty sure I can trust (almost blindly) his proposals because he is rock solid ideologically.

    Honestly, I want what both have to offer.

    • #13
  14. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    John Hanson’s number 2 is a great comment.

    • #14
  15. Sowell for President Member
    Sowell for President
    @

    Christie is not just weak on the 2A, he’s an opponent of it. Here’s just one of many examples: his administration submitted a brief to the Third Circuit to persuade that court not to consider a right to carry case (and not because the facts of the case were bad but because they didn’t want the right to carry recognized in NJ).  See here for an article by the Second Amendment Foundation – or see the excerpt below.

    Jun. 29, 2012 …The State’s latest filing maintains its absurd position that the Second Amendment does not exist outside the home, and that it is the State’s responsibility to protect the public from law abiding citizens with firearms. The papers even reference the Second Amendment as a “privilege.”

    Gun owners had speculated that the resignation of the former Attorney General and the recent appointment of a new one by Governor Christie might signal a change in the state’s deeply flawed policy on guns. Instead, the State’s June 28 filing in a federal appeals court reaffirms the State’s hostility toward the right of honest citizens to defend themselves with firearms outside the home – even though the police owe no duty to protect individual citizens.

    • #15
  16. Sowell for President Member
    Sowell for President
    @

    I agree, Brent. Reading The Modern Prince by Carnes Lord gave me a sobering idea of just how much experience and education a modern head of state should have.

    • #16
  17. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    All of the candidates are flawed.  Many of them (remember “the deepest and best Republican field in decades?”) have great strengths.  Most of them care deeply about the country, although the recent series of articles, as well as the ads, on how much Jeb!s campaign is spending to take out Rubio make me wonder exactly where his priorities lie.

    Cruz has taken some unpopular stands, including the one that was supposed to wreck the Republican ‘brand’ forever, the 2013 government ‘shutdown.’  We all know what happened twelve months later.  Perhaps his was a crime of opportunity; certainly, politicians are well known for doing things that make them universally loathed among their peers (not), or perhaps he was just carrying out his promise to his constituents.  We can debate that forever.

    But it seems to me that Cruz is the only member of the current field who has managed to make inroads on Trump.  He has moved up, rather than down, in the polls.  He has proven himself largely immune to The Donald’s attempts to distract from, and derail, the Cruz campaign.  He even managed at one point to launch an insult at Trump that was so obvious and personal that even Trump felt the sting, and recognized that he was being dissed.  That’s quite an achievement.  (Remember, for Trump’s take on his own New York values, look no further than this YouTube video:

    But now, if news reports are to be believed, the RNC/establishment is cozying up to Trump.  Because they think they can ‘deal’ with him.  Because they’d rather have anyone than Cruz.

    So, now we’re expected to believe that the GOPe, which has misplayed this race all the way from shoving an always reluctant-looking Jeb! into the limelight and trying to force him down voters’ throats, and which has been wrongfooted by Trump at every point, wants to take out the only person who seems capable of handling Trump, because they really believe their power, and their jig, will be up if Cruz wins.

    Note that their cynical ploy has nothing to do with addressing the voter concerns as to why Trump is in the lead.  It’s all about their ‘Precious,’ and how to hang on to it.

    If it wasn’t so sad, it would be hilarious–the RNC/GOPe is now amenable to a Trump presidency because–wait for it–they think they can manage, and ‘make deals with,’ Trump!  HAHAHAHAHAHA!

    They’re going to make deals with The Donald?  Remind me again, who always comes out the winner when you make a deal with Trump?

    What’s the old saying about engaging in a battle of wits with an unarmed . . . something?

    • #17
  18. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    John Hanson: Having “Political skills or experience” is a strong negative because politicians tend to say what is needed to get elected and ignore their constituent’s desires and compromise principle in favor of personal power.

    As I see it, the minute someone begins the process of office-seeking they become a politician. They’re subject to all the motivations and needs and desires of anyone who’s been in office for decades. Donald Trump and Ben Carson are politicians… the only difference is that we cannot evaluate how those pressures will influence them, as we might a more experienced politician.

    Agree that no one is really qualified for the presidency. That doesn’t mean we can’t compare how items on a resume may better prepare certain candidates for one aspect or another of the job — but I don’t think that will ever outweigh any substantive policy difference, for any of us.

    • #18
  19. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Sowell for President: . Here’s just one of many examples: his administration submitted a brief to the Third Circuit to persuade that court not to consider a right to carry case (and not because the facts of the case were bad but because they didn’t want the right to carry recognized in NJ)

    This is the kind of thing I was sort of hoping to pull out. That’s telling, because it’s not the kind of thing that would be affected by a Democratic legislature tying his hands, for instance.

    • #19
  20. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh


    BrentB67
    :I commend you for comment #1. Transparency and revealing any potential bias is very much respected and often lacking elsewhere on Ricochet, especially the Main Feed.

    Well, partly I wanted to be transparent, and partly I could see this turning into a thread largely about Rubio and Gang of Eight, which wouldn’t really have been what I was looking for — that has been pretty thoroughly argued elsewhere.

    BrentB67: Here is a possible exception and I say this based solely on random media perception: Bernie Sanders seems genuinely committed to his cause not unlike Obama.

    That seems probable.

    But on Obama’s commitment (and very off-topic), did you see how he just caved, massively, on education and threw his Secretary of Education under the bus? He did it all rather neatly and pretended he got what he wanted all along, but no such thing. It was a total cave.

    • #20
  21. rebark Inactive
    rebark
    @rebark

    She: They [the Establishment] are going to make deals with The Donald? Remind me again, who always comes out the winner when you make a deal with Trump?

    Donald Trump, of course. Not his businesses, which often go bankrupt, his employees, who often get fired, and certainly not his country.

    So yeah, put him at the helm. He’ll deal with the Establishment. He’ll get a great deal gaining political power for himself, they’ll get their spending, and we’ll get nothing. Like usual.

    • #21

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