Most reasonable people, including myself, have been appalled by the possibility that Donald Trump could be the next president of the United States. He is currently way ahead in the delegate count and there’s a mathematical possibility that he’ll reach the 1237 delegates required in the primaries to win the Republican party nomination for president. However, almost all polls have so far shown that both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton would beat him head-to-head in the general election. Game over.
There is another scenario that is becoming a greater possibility though that is far scarier – that of a Ted Cruz presidency. Regular readers will know I’ve always maintained this would be far more dangerous for both the United States and the rest of the world than Donald Trump in the White House, and it looks like it’s time to go into greater detail to explain why. It’s becoming increasingly less likely that any of the Republican candidates will achieve the required 1237 delegates to win their party’s nomination before the convention and thus there will be an open convention in which party delegates will vote in a series of ballots until a victor emerges.
Trump will have the most votes, but I don’t think he’ll have 1237, especially if he doesn’t win in Wisconsin tomorrow. Coming in second will be Ted Cruz, and if he’s within a couple of hundred votes of the Trump, and Trump isn’t close to the magic number, all bets are off. Party delegates are elected at state level, and while they’re generally “bound” to vote initially according to the results of their state’s primary, their votes then become “unbound” and the horse-trading begins. Ted Cruz in particular has already been working hard to get delegates’ votes after their initial “bound” vote. The Republican party has had ten open conventions in its history and at seven of them, it wasn’t the candidate that initially had the most votes who became the party’s nominee. This is one of the reasons Cruz has been going out of his way to present his as the unity ticket.
And in head-to-head polls, Cruz appears to have a chance of winning the general election, especially against Clinton. If Cruz is the nominee, he has a chance of being president.
Over the last few days, the focus has been on Trump’s stance on abortion and the obvious fact he hasn’t thought deeply or formulated a clear policy on the issue. I wrote about it myself here. When his position finally emerged after a series of statements and retractions, it was that he’s anti-abortion, with exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother. Whether Trump would use his ability to nominate people to the US Supreme Court to change the current law is less clear, and I suspect he would not. Trump is a public animal and would be driven by public opinion, and the opinion of the people of the US, despite what the squeaky wheel of Christian conservatives says, is to retain the current law. According to the Pew Research Center, 51% of USians think abortion should be legal all or most of the time while only 43% think the opposite.
Throughout all this, Cruz has been appearing as the reasonable candidate who respects women. He’s even developed a new initiative – “Women for Cruz”, consisting of his wife Heidi (a senior executive with Goldman Sachs), Carly Fiorina (former CEO of Hewlett Packard, former candidate, and the best debater to emerge on either side), and his mother Eleanor Darragh (a successful computer programmer who had the sense to divorce Cruz’s father). The best Trump could do in return was bring Sarah Palin back out.
However on abortion, as on so many issues, Cruz is actually a more dangerous prospect than Trump. Unlike Trump, Cruz does not support exceptions for rape and incest. The only exception he supports is “life of the mother, ” and as we see in other countries like Ireland where this is the only exception, it’s invoked extremely strictly. Further, his personal convictions are such that he will nominate Supreme Court justices who support his own position on this – a fact he has already made clear. The availability of abortion in the United States would be far more at risk under a Cruz presidency than a Trump one.
Despite his stance that even zygotes should have personhood status and thus protection under the Fourteenth Amendment, Cruz is an enthusiastic supporter of the death penalty. He stated:
I believe the death penalty is a recognition of the preciousness of human life.
He’s clearly one sick puppy, and I don’t say that lightly. When Cruz was solicitor-general of Texas, he defended the use of the death penalty for the mentally ill and a man with an IQ of 78. In January, the New York Times published an article by Jason Horowitz about Cruz’s time as a Supreme Court clerk. Horowitz spoke to many of Cruz’s colleagues. What became clear was that, “… he was most remembered by his fellow clerks for his fervor for capital punishment cases …”. At the same time, Radley Balko of the Washington Post added his opinion:
Cruz considers himself a limited-government conservative, and it’s worth noting that he has bucked his party to take principled positions on issues such as torture and National Security Agency spying. He also calls himself “pro-life.” Yet when it comes to the most profound power we grant to the government, the power to take a life, Cruz has an inexplicable unshakable faith in the government to get it right, even when he has ample personal experience to prove that the government often doesn’t.
And that’s the problem with limited government conservatives – their readiness to use the government when it suits their cause.
Donald Trump also supports the death penalty. In his usual react to the headlines way, in December he stated he would introduce a law mandating the death penalty for the killing of police officers. However, he does not appear to revel in the idea of being able to apply the death penalty in the way Cruz does.
They’ve taken longer than the rest of the world, but the US public are finally waking up to the fact that man-made climate change is a real thing and something needs to be done about it. The majority of those still in denial are conservative Christians, who seem to believe that this isn’t real because God said he wouldn’t destroy the world by flooding it again and rainbows are the proof. The fact that there’s no evidence whatsoever for a worldwide flood ever occurring, and that it’s actually not even possible, is denied by them.
The upshot is that as a majority of USians are no longer Climate Change deniers, they don’t support the Cruz position. This would not stop Cruz going ahead with his denier policies. His position is supported only by his religious beliefs, but he not only denies this, he accuses Climate Change scientists of being “religious” in their behaviour. He said:
Look, we have to follow the science on this, and the science isn’t clear. Even the language these people use isn’t science. “Denier.” That isn’t science, it’s religion.
Look who’s talking.
Cruz’s policy platform includes eliminating 25 agencies, bureaus, and commissions. Ten relate to Climate Change:
Climate Ready Water Utilities Initiative
Climate Research Funding for the Office of Research and Development
Climate Resilience Evaluation Awareness Tool
Global Methane Initiative
Green Infrastructure Program
Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program
Regulation of CO2 Emissions from Power Plants and all Sources
Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Vehicles
Renewable Fuel Standard Federal Mandates
UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
There is reason to be hopeful that Trump wouldn’t behave in this way. Firstly, it would be against the wishes of the majority. Secondly, most top companies worldwide are now positioning themselves to be ready for an environment where things like carbon taxes are the norm and are actively presenting themselves as a friend to the environment as a marketing technique. The whole country of New Zealand has been doing it for years via the Pure New Zealand campaign.
Cruz advocates a flat tax of 10% for personal income and 16% for business. There are some deductions for the lowest earners e.g. a family of four earning less than $36,000 would pay no tax. His tax policy is based on tithing, and the Republicans who advocate them politically all say that the Christian Bible is the foundation of that policy. Other advocates of a flat tax in the current primary election were Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson who were also notable for their religious conservatism.
However, flat taxes are not fair, despite being presented as such. They impact most on the poor and middle class and least on the wealthy. Along with all the other taxes Cruz plans to abolish, his plan increases the wealth of the top ten percent significantly. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that 95% of donations to his super-pac are US $1 million or more. Cruz insists that his tax plan will drive economic growth, creating employment. As I’ve posted here and here, in the current economic climate, giving money to the already wealthy is not the way to create jobs. In fact, it’s more likely to have the opposite effect. In addition, federal income will fall, driving up the deficit and government debt levels.
Donald Trump’s tax policy is progressive and calls for higher taxes for the wealthy.
Cruz’s support for Israel is fanatical. With Prime Minister Netanyahu already relying on right-wing parties in his own government to retain power, the situation there is likely to get more unstable. Cruz believes we are in the mythical Biblical End Times, and a ramping up of tension in the region will not scare him like it does people not infected by the same extremist views. A war between Israel and Palestine (which he states doesn’t exist) is something that would privately excite him. He’s likely to see himself as going down in legend as ushering in the Second Coming. It’s not only we atheists who think Cruz’s views are stupid and dangerous. Most Biblical scholars interpret the Book of Revelation as referring to Rome in early Christian times. Despite that, it’s possible Cruz’s extreme fundamentalism could create a self-fulfilling prophecy. In reality, Cruz has a closer resemblance to the mythical Anti-Christ.
Trump’s support for Israel is more balanced, and he has even stated he would like to make peace between it and Palestine via a two-state solution. He started his campaign almost completely ignorant when it comes to foreign affairs but after a series of major gaffes recently, he has started to meet with advisors. Those advisors are mainstream Republican and while there is much they say that I do not agree with (in particular, they are too hawkish), they are far more reasonable than Cruz.
Cruz has made several statements meant to show he would be tough on Islamist terrorists. Unlike Trump, he hasn’t made the headlines with appalling comments about torture and forcing the military to do it if he says to, so he appears more reasonable on the surface. However, Cruz’s constant statements that he would, “… carpet bomb [DAESH] into oblivion,” are just as much war crimes as Trump’s calls for torture. And if you want to get into degrees of bad, while Trump wants to torture terrorists for information, Cruz wants to murder literally millions of innocent civilians and write them off as collateral damage.
Trump has received a lot of attention for his racism. He failed to disavow the support of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and even lied about knowing him. Some robocalls in support of his campaign had a racist message. We even had the bizarre story of some snowflakes at Emory University who were “traumatized” just by seeing his name written in chalk around their campus. Personally I’m not sure that Trump is a racist so much as he’s ignorant and inexperienced at political patter.
His greater political savvy has seen Cruz able to again seem like the reasonable one when it looks to me that he’s far more racist than Trump, and his racism is a risk to future policy development.
In a speech to the Heritage Foundation three years ago, he said:
The very first political contribution I ever made in my life was to Jesse Helms. When I was a kid, I sent $10 to Jesse. … and my allowance was only 50 cents a week.
We need one hundred more like Jesse Helms in America.
Cruz didn’t like that Helms was being “beat up on.” But what was he being criticized for? His appalling racism. Watch Rachel Maddow, in her usual brilliant way, point out the problem with being such a devoted admirer of Helms:
It’s part of Cruz’s belief in, and adherence to, the doctrine of Dominionism that’s the problem:
Christian Reconstructionism (CR) has been called “the American Taliban.”
Its ideology calls for the institution of a government under Biblical law. This mandate is called “Dominionism.” Christian Reconstructionists believe that the authority to exert political control in the material world is provided in Genesis, where it is written that: “Let them [man] have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the cattle and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” According to CR, this dominion is also to be executed over nations, specifically the American nation, which is seen as the instrument for God’s plan to rule the world.
It is something we’re all going to hear a lot more about if Cruz becomes the GOP candidate. Back in 2004, Joan Boaker of Theocracy Watch, concerned about how much President George W Bush allied himself with Dominionists (who are powerful in Texas), made this YouTube video. It’s long – 43:31 – but worth watching. Her description of Dominionist policy twelve years ago is a blueprint of what Ted Cruz advocates. Part of Cruz’s (Dominionist) policy is to abolish the IRS (Internal Revenue Service, the equivalent of our IRD). Most USians recognize this for being the ridiculous notion it is, but he would at least try and go ahead with it – his policies come from his extreme religiosity and therefore he only recognizes evidence that supports them.
Heed the words of Jeffrey Tayler (Salon, 25 October 2015):
Religion is, after all, implicitly arrogant. It assumes it knows the truth, that its followers are saved and that the rest of us are deluded and even damned. Are we really going to sit by as faith movements demand “tolerance” for such views, and try to make us to submit to their wills? Whether religion offers solace to some isn’t the issue. The submission and control it seeks to impose is. Toss out the Supreme Being and we’re left with one set of humans striving to dominate another, and justifying themselves with ideology based on nothing but myth.