Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Why Ted Cruz Is Even Scarier Than Donald Trump


I've always thought Bill Maher is one of the most astute observers of U.S. politics and society. But recently, he said something that I have to strongly disagree with: that, as bad a GOP nominee as Ted Cruz would be, he'd actually be preferable to Donald Trump. I suppose it's a moot point, as Hillary Clinton would likely defeat either candidate. But if I had to choose, I'd take Trump as president over Cruz any day.

Trump is a bigot and he's said a lot of outrageous things on the campaign trail. But frankly, Cruz scares the hell out of me far more than Trump.

If you look at both candidates, they're equally repugnant on a lot of things: from waterboarding to building a big, stupid, pointless wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

But the fact is, Trump actually does have his good points. For example, I actually admired him quite a bit for blasting George W. Bush and the disastrous decision to invade Iraq. Trump used harsh language to slam the Iraq War that could have come straight from the pages of this blog.

On Iraq, Trump said a lot of the same things we've been saying for nearly a decade. And from a nationally televised, high-profile GOP debate stage, no less. Frankly, that took a lot of guts. The rest of the GOP field predictably slammed Trump (I recall one GOP commentator comparing Trump's rhetoric to Code Pink---which was actually true).

Another thing I like about Trump is that he has made it clear that he won't cut Social Security or Medicare. That kind of position is unheard of in today's GOP. It was astonishing for Trump to get on a GOP debate stage and make that kind of campaign promise. In today's Fox News/talk radio extremist GOP, no Republican is supposed to say anything about Social Security or Medicare without advocating either phasing it out, slashing it, or "reforming it."

Once upon a time, I myself was a political reporter. I recall countless interviews I did with various GOP candidates. Without exception, they always showed utter contempt for programs like Social Security and Medicare. Those programs were always near the top of their hit list.

In fact, at one time GOP candidates openly talked about phasing out both programs. It was only after they realized that such a position guaranteed a defeat at the polls that they modified their stance to "reforming" Medicare and Social Security. Frankly, a lot of voters (correctly) didn't even trust them on that position. So many Republicans switched tactics again and simply started taking potshots at both programs. (John McCain, among others, has referred to Social Security as a "Ponzi scheme)."

So it took a big pair of balls for Trump to take the position he did on two of the "Big Government" programs that are always near the top of the GOP's hit list. His position was something that you simply don't hear from any Republican these days.

Trump has also been surprising Liberal on programs like affirmative action. I was astonished a few months ago when I heard him openly support affirmative action in a MSNBC interview. He didn't even hedge his position---he made it clear that he supported the policy. In today's GOP, that kind of position is about as rare as support for Planned Parenthood (another program that Trump has astonishingly had a few kind words for on a GOP debate stage).

Trump has taken a lot of shots from fellow candidates and GOP commentators that he is actually kind of Liberal on some issues. And frankly, that's true. And what's more, the Liberal positions he supports are actually quite important.

One other thing I like about Trump. He has slammed the disastrous, so-called "free" trade policies the U.S. has embraced over the past 30 years. Actually, that kind of position is rare, not just among Republicans, but among Democrats as well. These days, the only kind of politician that could even dare to stand up to the hugely powerful "free" trade lobby is the very sort of candidate Trump is. Someone who is very wealthy and doesn't need the backing of the K Street lobbyists. Keep in mind that much of today's corporate America just loves so-called "free" trade. Companies like Apple have long embraced it. And as a result, the U.S. has lost much of its manufacturing base (most importantly, its once world-beating high-tech manufacturing base).

The "free" trade lobby is one of the strongest and most powerful forces in Washington. For 30 years, it has proclaimed that "free" trade is a plus for America---a claim that has gone unchallenged by the vast majority of politicians in both parties, as well as the corporate media. So, on this important issue, Donald Trump has been a breath of fresh air.

Contrast all this to Ted Cruz. With Cruz, you get all the radical extremist right-wing positions of Trump. But you don't get any of Trump's smart positions. On "free" trade, for example, Cruz is firmly in the pocket of the "same old, same old" crowd. Like Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and virtually every major politician of the past 30 years, Cruz is firmly in favor of embracing "free" trade.

On other issues, ranging from tax policy to waterboarding, Cruz is every bit as extreme as Trump. He's also a Muslim-basher. Recall his scary position to "patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods."

In short, Cruz is just like Trump, minus the latter's occasional sensible positions.

Like Dick Cheney, Cruz is a warmonger. He's made it clear that he has no qualms about launching yet more wars in the Middle East. With Cruz, it's like the lessons of the disastrous Iraq War never even happened. For him, war is always the policy of first resort. Cruz is like Cheney on steroids.

What makes Cruz even more scary is his extreme right-wing interpretation of the Bible and his enthusiasm for embracing what would essentially be a theocracy in America. Like many far-right evangelicals, he has no qualms about ramming his twisted interpretation of "Christianity" down the throats of the rest of us. Say what you want about Trump, but he is clearly no extremist right-wing evangelical.

Last, but not least, I've always suspected that underneath his bluster and red-meat statements, Trump is basically a pretty smart guy. But Cruz clearly isn't very bright or informed at all. I recall when Cruz called for the abolition of five federal agencies, but could only name four. Recall back when Rick Perry made a very similar mistake and was attacked as a lightweight. But after Cruz's bone-headed blunder, I don't recall a similar backlash.

Yes, Trump is scary and extremist at times. But Cruz is a full-time extremist. He's about as Far-Right crazy as it is possible to be. No wonder the likes of hate-wing talk radio show extremists like Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin have endorsed him.

Trump now has most of wingnut radio, much of the right-wing Web media, the powerful corporate "free" trade K Street lobby, and the GOP establishment fighting him. That only makes me prefer him over Cruz even more.


Cirze said...

Good dissection of the earthworms, but I still think that the whole Republican shebang up to now has been smoke and mirrors with no serious candidates (after Bush vanished/evaporated right before our eyes).

Someone will be put forward in the next two months.

And there will be blood on the Trump tracks.

H/t Bobby.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Cirze, thanks for your comment.
>>Someone will be put forward in the next two months.
You may be right on this. But if Trump heads into
Cleveland with a big majority of delegate votes and
he doesn't get the crown, I think the GOP has to be
concerned about the blow-up that would occur if they
anoint someone else.

Paul Wartenberg said...

the simplest explanation is that both candidates are horrifying for their own reasons. But that's just the cults of personality looking to dominate that one Party.

the real horror is that the Republican agenda of unjustified tax cuts to the rich, mass deregulation of every safety and employment code, slashing of social safety nets (even under Trump this will happen), and consistent attacks on our civil liberties - both immigrant and civilian, both young and old, mostly minorities but also women, those of non-Christian faith, and gays/transgender - all remain on that platform and must be repulsed and denied at every level of government.

Get the damn vote out to stop the modern Republican party, people. It's the only way to be sure.

AltandMain said...

The scary thing is that when compared to Clinton vs Trump, Trump may very well be the lesser evil with his anti-war, anti-free trade, and pro social benefit stance. No doubt about it, he is a racist, a sexist, and alarmingly authoritarian in many ways. Compare that though to a pro-war, pro-free trade, Goldman Sachs candidate - namely Clinton, and you have a serious argument that Progressives should vote Green or write in Sanders.

The Democrats had their chance with Bernie Sanders. They could have recaptured a huge portion of the working class white vote that has defected over, especially those who were hit the worst by the economy. Likewise, they could have captured many independents. He really connected to the left and is a rare person of integrity.

Oh, and the Democratic leadership seem to be doing everything possible to alienate my generation, from calling us "Bernie Bros" to treating us younger people with total contempt. They are unworthy to govern. I'm not an American, but I think that it is so sad that people did not vote for Sanders.

For decades, the Democratic Party seems to have taken left wing votes for granted. Clinton continues to do so, trying to use feminism and identity politics to cover up for her campaign contributions, pro-war, and pro-free trade record, while saying what she thinks voters want to hear. She will no doubt try to ramp up the "lesser evil" stuff soon enough. It's not too different from how the GOP uses religion, sexism, guns, and racism to distract people, while screwing them on economic issues.

I think that voting Green out of protest may be the only real option, especially when Sanders loses, which judging by the math seems inevitable (although the game was pretty rigged).

Marc McDonald said...

Hi AltandMain, thanks for your comment. I do agree with your comments re: Sanders.
>>She will no doubt try to ramp up the "lesser evil" stuff soon enough.

Yes, I have no doubt of this. But I will say one thing: every time I start thinking that Hillary isn't worth casting a ballot for, I just remember two words: Supreme Court. Even if she does nothing else as president, I'd certainly rather have her making Supreme Court nominees than the GOP. A President Cruz or Trump could tilt the court so far right that America would be unrecognizable as a nation within a decade. I think that's a big part of what this election is going to be all about---and both sides realize this.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Paul, thanks for your comment.
>>Get the damn vote out to stop the modern Republican party, people. It's the only way
>>to be sure.
Yes, for sure. I do believe this upcoming election will be very close.

AltandMain said...

The problem is that there will always be Supreme Court positions during a presidency.

Personally, I'd recommend going Green like crazy:

The other reason is that Clinton, if she wins, will not be able to draw the kind of Progressive support Obama did in 2008. At best, she would draw the level Obama did in 2012. There is also the possibility that in November 2016, she may hand over the victory to Trump altogether, because he ends up drawing record numbers of working class white voters. There are also large numbers angry Sanders supporters who, if the Bernie or Bust movement gains popularity, may go Green or write-in Sanders.

Let's say she wins. The Democratic Party is from out of the woods in that case. Then the Democratic Party would likely get mauled in the 2018 midterms, and Clinton would be exposed, making her very vulnerable in 2020. The problem is that if the Democratic Party loses 2020, it is a census year as the article notes. Her true colors will show pretty quickly like Obama's - Trump is actually to her left on foreign policy, free trade, and possibly even corruption.

A Sanders victory would be far more likely to get more Progressives out to vote during the midterms and likely in 2020. The reason is because of the fact that he will be trying to get things done vs the image of Clinton. Note how Obama's ratings have gone up in the past year due to his efforts to appoint a Justice and his use of executive order more frequently. A Sanders or similar Progressive would likely do the same from day one (or be forced to anyways because the GOP will bring the US Congress to a total halt).

Finally, Garland, Obama's appointee is not as left wing as some people think.

A Clinton presidency is likely to appoint similar justices, perhaps even more right wing. That is a huge problem. Here I think Sanders would do much better, albeit be bitterly opposed by the Republicans every step of the way.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi AltandMain, thanks for your comment. You make some good points.
>>Trump is actually to her left on foreign policy, free trade, and possibly even

One reason that I find it hard to hate Trump is that I actually greatly admire him for standing on a high-profile GOP debate stage and slamming Bush and the decision to invade Iraq. I've been waiting for a long time for a Republican to say that. These bastards need to own up to this fiasco and they need to apologize to the American people.

Meanwhile, Hillary voted for the measure that enabled Bush to invade Iraq. A lot of people on the Left have never forgiven her for that.

Yes, I realize this is only one issue. But to me and a lot of other people, it's a very important issue. America as a whole needs to face up to what it did. We need to hold trials and convict these war criminals. Yeah, I know, I'm fantasizing---but for me, the next best thing was Trump slamming Bush's decision to invade. Frankly that took guts---and it's made it hard for me to hate the guy.

Unless America faces up to the reality of what it did in Iraq, it'll be much more likely that we won't learn from this catastrophic mistake---and there will be more Iraqs in the future.