Let’s get one thing out of the way. I will not be endorsing a Democrat. I have voted for one Democrat in my entire life. He was an African-American man running for Sheriff in Jacksonville, Florida. He ran a tough on crime campaign and did become the top cop. I hope this lack of endorsement for the party of the left will not too much disappoint my friends who think I am almost reasonable enough to go Democrat. I’m not. Not even close.* :-)
Now, on to the matter of my endorsement (which I imagine may move ten voters if I am lucky, but I am an optimist). I have to hope that some of those ten are in Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina. This choice is an agonizing one for me. I like practically all the candidates in the field.
Trump is an outlier. He has his charms, but not as a GOP standard bearer. In any case, Trump is out for me in the primaries. Talk to me again if he becomes the nominee.
Ben Carson is also out for me. He is not prepared on a policy level. Neither is Trump, actually. My question to Ben Carson is whether he would perform surgery with the level of preparation and understanding he has on policy. He wouldn’t and shouldn’t. He’s out.
The rest of the major candidates are live options. I don’t easily eliminate any of them. I will tell you honestly that up front I was a Bush man. I deeply regretted Jeb Bush’s loss in the 1994 Florida governor’s race because I thought he was the best Bush and had the most to offer. I also had great hopes for his appeal to Hispanics given the make-up of his nuclear family. But he has either been out of the game too long (since 2006 after two terms as FL gov.) or the field has been too much disrupted by Trump for him to win. I am not endorsing him because victory appears to be impossible at this point.
I am also not endorsing John Kasich and Chris Christie because I think they are too limited to get enough votes in state after state of primaries. They can do damage in New Hampshire where they can camp out for weeks, but as the primaries pile up, they will be left behind. I like both men and think they are well-qualified. Christie would have run best in 2012 when we were all joyfully watching him blast his detractors in New Jersey on Youtube. (While I’m at it, Huckabee would have been something in 2012.)
In different circumstances, I think Rand Paul would have done better. Part of his problem is that he has Ted Cruz pushing for an originalist view of the constitution and for federalism and doing it in a much more interesting way. That hurts Paul. In addition, I don’t think he is a match for his father, Ron, as a libertarian evangelist. He’s out, too, but there is a future for him or someone like him in national politics. Libertarianism will gain traction in a low-consensus society. It will also grow in reaction to the burgeoning socialist-lite movement Bernie Sanders is leading.
Carly Fiorina is out because her resume’ just doesn’t match up. In many ways, she’s Mitt Romney, but less successful in business and not a former governor. She is really good on the campaign, though. She needs to run for Congress or find a friendlier state than California. The future is there for her if she wants it. She also has been struggling to be on the big stage.
All of this leaves me with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. At the beginning of the race, I would have told you that I didn’t want a senator and certainly not a first term senator. I wanted a governor. President Obama, in my mind, has demonstrated that executive experience is a must. But here we have Rubio and Cruz like Kennedy and Nixon. A couple of young guys rising fast. Both good at getting votes. Both men who overthrew establishment opponents.
I like both men. They are excellent on the debate stage. Neither will be victims who run around apologizing for their conservative views. Having been to law school and understanding how our constitution has been warped and twisted, I feel real affection for Ted Cruz because I know he gets that. Watching him go off on the moderators for their questions in the CNBC debate was amazing. In addition, I have felt angry with evangelicals who treat Cruz as though he is some theocratic monster. It isn’t that hard to know what he’s really about. As I’ve said before, he is really just a Reagan conservative. Pure and simple.
However, I have decided to endorse Marco Rubio. My reason is simple. He is the most conservative candidate who can win. It’s the old William F. Buckley formulation. I have been watching politics my whole life. I still remember watching the 1976 returns come in as I sat on the couch with my mother. I was so in love with Crossfire in the 1980’s, a friend and I would call each other at the beginning, at the commercial, and at the end to talk excitedly about what we’d seen. My fascination never abated. Marco Rubio is the most talented candidate I have ever seen. Cruz is awfully good. Rubio is awfully good and then some, plus he doesn’t attract as much enmity.
It is crucial to win now. We don’t need any more HHS mandates. Obamacare must be reformed and improved upon. Perhaps most pressing for me is that I don’t want to see a bureaucrat at the Department of Education issue a regulation that will block access to financial aid for students at Christian colleges and universities. We also need to win now if only to preserve some balance in the federal court system.
Marco Rubio has the greatest chance to improve the state of the union and to prevent and roll back overreach from an emboldened left. For that reason, I endorse him.
(There is one caveat to all this. Ted Cruz has made the point that he is the only candidate who can beat Trump in Iowa. It seems to me that it would be wise to prevent Trump from winning Iowa AND New Hampshire back to back. If I lived in Iowa, I think I would vote Cruz to try and prevent Trump from getting the win.)
Marco Rubio is my guy for the nomination.
*Why can’t I vote Democrat? Two main reasons. The first is that the Democratic party is decidedly pro-choice. Morally, I equate that view with something like segregation. That means it has massive priority that cannot be ignored. There used to be plenty of pro-life Democrats, but they are nearly extinct. The second is that the Democratic party is increasingly secular and uninterested in religious liberty. That again is a situation that has changed. If we go back 25 years or so, the Democrats probably valued religious liberty more highly than Republicans. Secular, left-wing liberal values are too antithetical to my own. I can’t vote that way.