…And Then There Were Fewer

Ted Cruz narrowly won the Iowa Caucus last Monday with 27.6 percent of the vote. Trump and Rubio trailed Cruz by 3 percent and 4 percent, respectively, with Carson following with 10 percent of voters.

It is worth noting, and perhaps celebrating, Ted Cruz’s historic victory as the first Hispanic American to win a state primary. Additionally, almost 60 percent of the republican Iowa caucus votes went to non-white candidates (Cruz, Rubio, and Carson). The last 16 percent was split between the remaining candidates, each below 5 percent. Barring a strong comeback from a more moderate candidate, the primary will come down to Cruz, Rubio, and Trump.

Given recent history, we cannot attach too much to the first few primaries. Instead, the candidates’ momentum will be much more telling. The states with earlier primaries tend to be more conservative and the later primaries tend to favor more moderate candidates. Thus, we should expect Cruz’s ascent to continue into Super Tuesday (especially among the states with large Evangelical populations), tailing off in March and May.

Rubio appeals more to moderate republicans, we can expect him to gain momentum throughout the primaries, particularly late in March and into April and May. Carson’s campaign staff and funds are collapsing, and he continues to lose support. Trump is much less predictable. As in Iowa, I sincerely hope he performs much worse among voters than he has with polls. His significant drop in polls following the Iowa caucus is reassuring. When candidates drop out, I expect them to endorse Rubio or Cruz.

So far in this primary, we can discern that consistent, principled conservatism is gaining momentum, while Trump’s populist, contradictory nonsense-peddling is running out of steam. The republicans should eventually settle on a candidate that can appeal to moderate voters that will not callously insult his way to the general election.

The Democrats, meanwhile, split the popular vote between Clinton and Sanders in Iowa. Due to sheer luck and a series of coin flips, Clinton “won” the caucus by a razor-thin margin. Although Clinton still leads the Democratic national polls by double digits, the Iowa caucus was clearly no victory for her. Sanders gained momentum, and is now expected to win New Hampshire.

The Democratic National Committee has evidently prepared to crown, not elect, Hillary Clinton. The few inconveniently placed debates and superficial coverage show the DNC intends to shelter Clinton from opposition. Who, however, could have anticipated the rise of a progressive self-proclaimed socialist, ready to take on the Clinton machine?

Despite Clinton’s numerous scandals and a potential federal indictment for sending and receiving top secret and Special Access Program (SAP) information on a private server, she manages to lead national polls. Due to numerous flip-flops in policy and opinion, Clinton is not considered trustworthy by most Americans.

Sanders, conversely, has been consistent throughout his career. He also appears to speak honestly and genuinely. Some of Sanders’ enthusiastic supporters mirror Trump’s populists who cannot accurately define their candidate’s platform, much less basic political ideologies as socialism or communism.

In his widely praised political advertisement, Sanders approves the “message” of… Simon & Garfunkel’s “America”? The advertisement was brilliant precisely because it advertises neither political content nor platform; it normalizes his platform through quick shots of cities, countryside, and Sanders rallies.

The president’s job is to execute the law and to command the military. It is not, as some progressives and conservatives have insisted for decades, to simply “get things done,” ruling unilaterally by arbitrary executive orders.

To reverse the continual overreach of federal powers, we should start by electing a president who respects the office’s enumerated Constitutional powers, not one who illiberally vows to dominate the American republican process and implement personal will.