At last, the field is narrowing. We have four names still in contention but unless you’ve pinned your hopes on winning at a brokered convention, you’ve come down to two choices.
The noise of the rhetoric by supporters on both sides is deafening, and almost enough to drown out the facts. And why would it be otherwise, with so much at stake?
With more than a dozen candidates having already bowed out, and a couple still inexplicably hanging on, many readers will now have to move their support to a new choice. But how to choose? We have strong movements on either side denouncing the other guy as the wrong choice… people telling you who to vote for… telling you how you must vote.
You deserve something more than that. You deserve to have your intelligence respected enough that you should make an informed choice, rather than a coerced one. Just because I have made my own conclusions does not mean yours will be the same. This is why we have elections, is it not? So that rational people can make informed decisions about their nation’s future?
Right, then let’s try to get some perspective in this, while I try to present it impartially.
First, the common ground:
It’s no coincidence that these two men are (effectively) the last men standing. Each has his own claim to being the “anti-establishment” guy, and if there’s one thing that the public is fed up with, it’s establishment candidates. The outrage could be summed up: “they betrayed us”. This betrayal is exactly why immigration and the “gang of eight” loom large in these debates.
Trump’s claim here is that he wasn’t a politician when Republicans rolled over and surrendered to Obama’s agendas. Cruz’s claim is that he stood up against the Republicans who rolled over and surrendered, faithful to the Constitution and Conservative principles.
Let’s set aside the overheated rhetoric. A few secondary issues are being thrown in which muddy the waters on both sides. Against Cruz: birthplace and accusations of dirty politics (“lies”). Against Trump: Trump U court case, Polish workers, and his brashness. It must be remembered that these criticisms are raised for no other reason than to discredit an opponent. They must be taken with that proverbial “grain of salt”. Each has plausible counter-arguments that would disarm them, and we are better off using greater issues to decide this contest.
Electability. How I’ve come to loathe that word. “Electable” leaders have been tried before. They tend to lose, or compromise. Besides, both men are hated, just by different groups. As for success in the Primary process, it’s not yet set in stone. There are reasons it could go either way, including a more binary choice, and the difference closed primaries could make.
The Other Guy is Establishment. While I mentioned before how each is anti-establishment in some sense, each is also being painted as “establishment”.Team Trump calls Cruz establishment because he was a politician funded by lobbyists. Accusations go the other way, calling Trump “Conservative in name only” taking the wrong side on key issues and citing financial support for the corrupt politicians and policies that got us into this mess. (i.e. Clinton and Reid.)
Endorsements: Both sides have sellouts, whackjobs and heroes backing or opposing them. This issue is basically a tie.
Lies: Both sides are accused of lies, but have plausible explanations. It’s unfair to call Cruz a liar over the Carson tweet. Just like it’s unfair to call Trump a liar for claiming to be Christian, even though he doesn’t ask forgiveness. Christianity has become so watered-down, that it can mean practically anything now, and he (like Obama, and Clinton before him) legitimately might not know the difference. (That’s the Church’s fault, not his.)
Personality. Larger-than-life or steady-and-unshakable? There are two parts to this question, and it’s one you’ll have to decide for yourself. There’s the election process itself, and there’s the way it will shape time spent in office. There are pros and cons each way, you’ll have to weigh it out yourself.
Policy or Passion: Are you looking for a passionate leader who you believe has good instincts, has given the broad strokes, and will sort the details on the go? Or are you prepared to have a somewhat less charismatic leader with a well-developed, specific plan of action, who has made clear what principles will guide his decisions moving forward?
The X Factor: Every leader can expect to face unexpected events during his tenure. Things he didn’t campaign on. Dubya had 9/11. Obama had the financial crisis. There are the continual back-and-forth tensions between nation states; treaties made and broken. Who do you trust to make the right decisions when thrust into an unexpected situation?
Here’s what I would hope for the undecided voter. Take the devout shills for both teams, and set them aside for a moment. Give some thought to what kind of a candidate you are looking for — what YOUR priorities in a candidate look like. Then weigh these two against your template. One of them will emerge as a frontrunner.
When he does, that’s your choice.