Wake Up, Rand Paul Fans: Ted Cruz Is Your Only Hope

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The results are in – Ted Cruz is now the only remaining candidate in the 2016 Republican primary poised to stop Donald Trump from nabbing the GOP nomination. I cannot say I am as thrilled by this news as the diehard Cruz fans must be (as I do not count myself among their ranks for reasons I will explain later), but I still find solace in the thought that Trump still has a worthy usurper – and he isn’t half bad.

Now that seem like light praise, but I am a believer in incremental change being a serious part of the liberty lover’s platform. And for reasons I’ve already written about elsewhere and won’t bore you with today, I frankly find the alternative, purist view one of naiveté and grossly vacuous entitlement. Nobody belonging to any ideology will ever be 100% successful and completely receive everything he or she wants at the drop of a hat. And in a political environment as clearly volatile as this, the good guys must be discovered by casting a net much wider than not.

So that means we as liberty lovers must at least respect those among us who wish to bring forth the aforementioned incremental change through supporting the remaining candidates who, despite not being our first choices, still stand out as the best among the viable choices. I’ve written elsewhere on how Sanders in many ways represents that position among Democratic voters, and now I’m going to explain why ted Cruz is absolutely that same archetype for the Republicans.

For starters, let us please cast aside the petty name-calling and anti-Cruz diatribes coming from the Paul camp in this movement. If those folks would take a mere moment to think independently from the tribe, they would realize that their lord and savior Ron has been woefully inconsistent on his public opinion on Ted Cruz. Certainly he lambastes Cruz these days because Cruz “stole” (we’ll get to that in a moment) his son Rand’s supporters this race and feelings are likely hurt at the moment. But before Raw Paw was busy fighting his son’s battles against Ted, he actually supported the man quite enthusiastically and would often show up at rallies to show his endorsement. It’s interesting that once Cruz entered this race and therefore became a threat to Rand, all of a sudden we see a different attitude from Paul Sr.

But never mind – that’s all just coincidence, right? Perhaps Ron experienced that scientifically observable fact he doesn’t believe in and “evolved” into a different position about the candidate. Perhaps. But one cannot deny the oddly timed coincidences.

And what of Cruz himself? Are his positions truly libertarian enough for all sorts of liberty movement people, including more outside/left-leaning supporters like myself, to support him in this race? Or is he a dastardly neocon who stole the vote from Rand? Well, that answer is a bit more complicated – as I said before, I am not by any means a full-fledged Cruz fan. Certain aspects of his platform do concern me – mainly his evangelical ties and seemingly anti-LGBT views. However it is important to note that the man truly is a lover of the U.S. Constitution, and therefore respects the limitations it places upon the president (and government at large). So despite what Cruz’s personal views on these maters might me, am I honestly concerned he would implement policy to force said views down everyone else’s throats? No, I’m not.

This chalks up to the same sort of arguments I made on behalf of Ron Paul’s alleged personal homophobia – who cares? If the man holds personal views about certain people that are abhorrent, that’s not exactly great news, but he’s also gone on record many times saying he would not abuse his authority to somehow limit the rights of those people, either. This is a very clear distinction that must be made in order to have an honest conversation about any of these Constitutionalist candidates – their personal social views matter much, much less than their fiscal ones, because they don’t believe the federal government has the power to directly affect much of the former. Libertarians are brilliantly astute at making this argument when defending Ron Paul against the public witch hunts against his character, yet they seem to completely take leave of their senses and pile on whenever similar attacks are launched against Cruz.

For instance, when Ron Paul was accused of bribery in his 2012 campaign, the Paul supporters came out of the woodwork to cast reasonable doubt upon the whole thing. “Well, those are just is staffers; not Paul himself! This is just a smear campaign!” Perhaps, but it worth pointing out that Dr. Paul has a history of shirking responsibility for scandalous things that have happened on his watch. The now infamous racist newsletter scandal is one such instance – many of us in the politically active libertarian circles have enough connections to know many of the details surrounding that scandal, and yes, it does seem evident that two people in particular, neither of them Paul,  were responsible for those writings. So it is true that Dr. Paul didn’t actually put pen to paper himself when those horrible articles were written, but any candidate of honor or presidential prowess would have at the very least taken responsibility for those newsletters and apologized on their behalf – especially if the comments were still attributed to that person’s name as these were Paul’s. And yet, Dr. Paul has always made it a point to not take responsibility for this incident, and even continues to protect the real culprits by claiming (falsely) that he doesn’t know who wrote the articles in the first place (but it wasn’t him, he promises).

I’m not pointing these things out to ignorantly commit the tu quoque fallacy; I’m pointing these things out to simply illustrate that the Ron Paul camp has had its share of scandals, yet those supporters have gone out of their way to defend Dr. Paul anyway – even when he’s been less than honest in his handling of it all. Meanwhile, those very same people have not waited a moment to perpetuate and magnify any such claims against Cruz this election year. And the Cruz “scandals” honestly could barely be called scandals at all in comparison to the stuff Paul has pulled in the past. Example: when Cruz was wrongfully accused of taking undisclosed bribes from Goldman Sachs (he actually got traditional loans from the company the same way any everyday American  civilian would), the Paul sycophants didn’t hesitate – “he’s a big government shill just like Hillary” They exclaimed. All across the social network sphere echoed the cries of these malcontent. Never mind the fact that this claim later got more or less debunked – the accusation is still being perpetuated by this crowd. This leads me to suspect that facts and objectivity don’t matter to these people. Instead, they only care about smearing Cruz at every turn because they just don’t like him.

And why don’t they like him? After all, Cruz has publicly supported and showed friendship to Rand Paul many times in the past (including Rand’s arguably most important moment in his entire political career, the anti-drone filibuster). Well, apparently Cruz “stole” many of Rand’s would-be supporters this election cycle and therefore cost him the votes to win big in Iowa like all the Paulbots were chanting about ad nauseam.

But let’s look at that claim a little closer – is this a legitimate complaint? Did Cruz send thugs to all the Rand supporters’ houses and force them at gunpoint to switch camps? Or did the libertarian wing of Cruz’s supporters (which truly is quite large) sign up willingly?

Right away, a simple internet search can pretty much put this claim to bed, where scads of videos, articles, etc. of autonomous libertarians (many of them past Ron Paul activists) can be found – these individuals are more than eloquent enough to explain why they all feel a shift from the Ron Paul 2012 campaign to the Ted Cruz 2016 campaign was a natural one. One video in particular rightly points out that both Pauls had previous endorsed Cruz’ senate run and considered him a friendly. And again, this did not seem to change until Cruz also decided to run for president this time around.

The typical response I get from the #StillRanding people amounts to something like this: “Well, this was supposed to be Rand’s year! Cruz took that from him!”

But was it really supposed to be Rand’s year? After all, if Rand’s platform were really as ubiquitously appealing as was claimed, would the liberty crowd really have left him out to dry in Iowa and and polls leading up to that debacle? Is Rand Paul really as powerful a voice for this crowd as his father was? If the turnout was any indication, the answer is certainly no.

So can or should the Cruz campaign really be blamed for this? Rand should have been able to stand on his own without turning Cruz into a boogyman one his numbers started to dip. Perhaps we just have to be honest with ourselves and realize the reality I’ve been trying to wise people up to for months, now: Rand Paul’s 2016 campaign was an historical one, but its function was ultimately to bring libertarian ideas within the Republican party more mainstream; not to actually win this time. Perhaps at a later time Rand can try again, and the world will be ready for him, but until then, what we have is Cruz. And he may not be perfect, but if anyone reading this can truly tell me that the world would be better off with Trump in the White House, then those folks might have to question whether or not their best interests truly align with liberty at all. At the very least, Cruz speaks about liberty with true conviction and reverence; at most, he could still be president. And that wouldn’t be a horrible thing. Not in the least.

Which brings me to my final point, which involves the matter of the nomination itself. There is precedent for the RNC to potentially switch up delegates at the convention and appoint the more favored remaining candidate – they’ve already done this in the past, and there are reports even from the left that it could happen again. And while it has been true for awhile that Cruz has made enemies amidst the GOP (and again, I’m not sure why he is shamed for this while Rand is revered for the same thing), it is even more true that Trump is the main enemy. The GOP does not want Trump, and many Republicans of influence have publicly spoken out against him time and time again. With the race still as close as it is, and with Cruz nipping Trump’s heels, is it really so crazy to still consider that Cruz has a real shot at being the one to topple the Trump platform by the time the main election takes place? And can anyone in the liberty movement truly say that Cruz would somehow be worse than Trump when going up against, say, a Hillary Clinton?

So let us please put aside this petty nonsense about making Cruz an unnecessary enemy of liberty when he is nothing of the kind. And let us also act like we still have some sense when it comes to practical application of our philosophy at the voting booths. Baby steps is how we got here; it is therefore baby steps by which we will return. Cruz is a baby step toward liberty, while Trump is a giant leap toward fascism. I implore any and all who read this to please not allow the latter to occur.

Micah J. Fleck is a journalist and political writer who has spent the past several years developing his political outlook through independent research. While an enthusiast of both American history and economics, Mr. Fleck typically comes at his topics from a more anthropological perspective. His writings and interviews have been featured in various publications - including The National Review, The Libertarian Republic, The Wall Street Journal, and The College Fix - and he is currently earning a degree in anthropology at Columbia University.

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