As South Carolina gets ready to vote, and as we march closer to Super Tuesday when we here in Virginia will cast our ballots, I want to take a look at the three remaining candidates who have a legitimate shot at the nomination, and make a case for who you should vote for and why. It’s no secret that I am supporting Ted Cruz, but I also want to look at this race through the views and beliefs of one of the fathers of the modern conservative movement, William F. Buckley.
William Buckley was the founder of the Conservative magazine National Review and is widely viewed as one of the most important voices of American Conservatism in his time. He is also viewed as holding a certain pragmatism when it came to picking candidates for office. During the 1964 Republican Primary between Conservative Barry Goldwater and Moderate Nelson Rockefeller, Buckley was asked who he would support. He responded by saying he supported “the rightwardmost viable candidate.” This became known as the “Buckley Rule.”
Now many in the moderate camp of the party like to translate this into, “the Republican who can win.” What Buckley really meant is, “the most conservative candidate who can win.” Buckley never asked Republicans to sacrifice their principles on the altar of electability, but he did believe that if you had two candidates, where candidate “A” was more conservative than candidate “B”, but candidate “A” had no chance of winning, whereas candidate “B” had a very good chance of winning, then conservatives should vote for candidate “B,” arguing that two-thirds of a loaf is better than no loaf at all.
So in light of this, let’s take a look at the three candidates on the Republican side that have the best chance at the nomination through the lens of 1.) Who is the most conservative?, and 2.) Who can win?
Who is the most Conservative?
Donald Trump is NOT a conservative. Trump has spent his entire life as a Democrat. He continues to support Planned Parenthood, universal health care, large tax increases on businesses, and would appoint liberal justices to the Supreme Court. During his MSNBC Town Hall event host Mika Brzezinski described Socialist Bernie Sanders to him, and Trump thought she was talking about himself. In his book, The America We Deserve (which he cites occasionally on the campaign trail), he show his support for Bloomberg-style gun control, advocating for an assault weapons ban and a three day waiting period for handgun purchases.
Marco Rubio is a conservative. Rubio has a Heritage action scorecard rating of 94%. He is pro-life, pro-second amendment, anti-tax, and would most likely appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court, but he has a very glaring issue to deal with. Rubio joined Chuck Schumer in trying to push amnesty for illegal immigrants as a member of the Gang of 8. This problem is compounded by the fact that he clearly made campaign promises saying he opposed amnesty, but reversed course mere weeks after he was elected, making his current campaign pledges on dealing with illegal immigration highly suspect.
Ted Cruz is a conservative. Cruz has a Heritage action scorecard rating of 100%. He is pro-life, pro-second amendment, anti-tax, and would definitely appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court. Cruz has never wavered on his conservative ideals and has argued numerous cases in front of the Supreme Court in defense of the 2nd amendment, religious liberty, and a host of other conservative issues. Cruz was instrumental in helping Senator Jeff Sessions defeat the Gang of 8 amnesty deal, and has a consistently conservative record, both before and during his Senate term.
So of the three candidates who have the best chance at getting the nomination, Ted Cruz is the most conservative candidate in the race.
Who can win?
Donald Trump cannot win the general election. Donald Trump has the highest negative ratings of any candidate ever to run for President since the Gallup organization started tracking favorability ratings for presidential candidates. He is the media favorite in the race. They are treating him with kid gloves right now because they know he is the one candidate that Hillary Clinton can beat. Once they have helped him secure the nomination, Trump will be savaged by the media and the Democrats. It will be a ruthless, relentless onslaught of all the dirty laundry the media has amassed on Trump over the last 30 years of misdeeds. It will be brutal, and it will sink the Republican Party to its lowest depths since Richard Nixon’s impeachment.
Marco Rubio cannot win the general election. I know the general consensus among the establishment is that Marco Rubio is the most electable candidate, but that is just not the case. To win this election, the Republican nominee is going to have to bring back the millions of voters that are supporting Donald Trump, and Rubio simply cannot do it. The number one issue for Trump voters is immigration, and they will never vote for a candidate that has pushed for amnesty, not only in the Gang of 8, but who we are now learning supported amnesty all the way back in 1998. These are not typical Republican voters. These are Tea Party voters who have felt betrayed by the Republican Party for years and are sick to death of it. A Rubio nomination will have most of these people simply stay at home and refuse to vote rather than vote for a candidate that will give citizenship to 12 million illegal immigrants and end the Republican Party’s chance at ever winning the White House again.
Ted Cruz CAN win the general election. Ted Cruz consistently beats Hillary Clinton in head to head matchups. Unlike Rubio, Ted Cruz has the best chance of bringing disaffected Trump supporters back to the Republican ticket for the General Election. His stand against illegal immigration is one that will appeal to Trump supporters in a way Rubio cannot. Cruz also has a message that speaks to those blue-collar, “Reagan Democrats” who feel abandoned by their party, and can bring them to our side.
The establishment is currently desperate to stop a Ted Cruz nomination, the same way they were desperate to stop a Ronald Reagan nomination in 1980. Between Trump and Cruz, the establishment has even gone so far as to say they prefer Trump. However, with the death of Justice Scalia, you will not see moderate Republicans sit on their hands and deliver the White House, the Supreme Court, and our remaining Constitutional rights into the hands of Hillary Clinton. That is just a bridge too far. Some of them might hold their nose when they vote for Cruz, but they will do it.
So when it comes right down to it, looking at this race through the prism of the Buckley Rule, you find that not only is Ted Cruz the most Conservative candidate in the race, but that Ted Cruz also has the best chance to win the race. Therefore I submit to you, based on his own rules, that William F. Buckley would vote for Ted Cruz in the 2016 GOP Presidential Primary.