There’s something to be said for being the first passenger to hop in the Republican 2016 clown car. That plucky and delusional soul will be, for an indefinite period, the only officially announced candidate – and firmly in the media spotlight.
For the 2016 race, that was none other than Senator
Red Scare Ted Cruz (R-TX). It was a smart move for him, but it will likely end badly for Republicans – and bode well for Democrats, political pundits and comedians across the country. Seriously, what could be better than someone announcing their candidacy this far out instead of just flirting with the idea to keep your ratings up? (I’m looking at you, Donald Trump.)
While we know the media loves an active political campaign, Republicans can’t be terribly happy about the way this one is kicking off:
Sen. Ted Cruz jumped into the 2016 presidential race Monday in the same way he intends to run his campaign: upstaging rival Republican candidates with a splashy, impassioned speech that sought to drag the national conversation further to the right than many in his own party want to go.
The Texas senator’s chances of winning the White House are narrow, polls suggest. And his aggressive tactics and brash style during two years in the Senate – including nudging the GOP toward the 2013 government shutdown — have alienated many of the Republican leaders whose support he needs if he wants to become the nominee.
But in addition to raising his own political profile, Cruz’s candidacy is certain to play a key role in the GOP primary as spoiler and potential kingmaker, forcing establishment favorites — such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — to confront tea party preferences on immigration, gay marriage and social welfare programs. (Source)
With Ted Cruz putting himself out there first and announcing it at one of the most right-wing Christian colleges in the country, he has cornered the market on the fundamentalist Christian vote. Short of Bobby Jindal personally leading the Louisiana Air National Guard on a bombing run of Iran (I hope this doesn’t give him any ideas) or Michele Bachmann converting all of ISIS to Christianity, proclaiming that he is running for president at Liberty University puts Ted Cruz out in front of a crowded pack of potential candidates seeking the far-right vote.
Republicans lost the White House in 2008 partly due to the economy and the unpopularity of George W. Bush; they lost in 2012 because the GOP couldn’t field a candidate capable of taking on a reasonably popular president. Both elections exposed a very serious problem within the Republican Party that Ted Cruz is exacerbating ahead of 2016. The problem is that GOP primary voters tend to be mostly older, white, and very conservative. In other words, if you want to at least make it past South Carolina, you better go and handle some political serpents and speak in tongues to the base about how much you hate Obamacare, abortion and immigration. That’s exactly what we saw in 2012 and Mitt Romney tried so hard to swing back to the political center after securing the nomination, but it is basically impossible to win Republican primaries without painting yourself as “severely conservative,” especially in the deepest red states.
Of course, running for president often gets you a nice Fox News contributor job as we’ve seen with Rick Santorum, Herman Cain and other political grifters – but I don’t think that’s necessarily what Ted Cruz is aiming for. Making this announcement so early allows him to get a jump on the field and pull the eventual nominee further to the right, just as liberals have been trying to pull Hillary Clinton further to the left. It benefits Ted Cruz and it helps the Democratic nominee, but it will almost undoubtedly spell disaster for the GOP once again.
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