What's a more frightening prospect than 'President Donald Trump'? President Ted Cruz, that's what.
If we were to try and pin down Donald Trump’s greatest achievement, there are a fair few options we can choose from. Trump himself would probably claim they are his successful businesses and reasonably sized hands. Somewhat more objective voices have expressed grudging admiration for his consistently high polling among Republican voters, and also his considerable primary wins. Yet perhaps Trump’s biggest success, really, has been that next to him, Ted Cruz looks (on the surface) like a normal human being.
Do not for a moment think that I am going to say anything nice about Donald Trump in this piece. I hate Donald Trump… I think I hate him more than any other living thing, fictional characters included. Sauron and Team Rocket are paragons of virtue next to Trump. Trump is a nasty bigoted opportunist with very small hands.
That said, I’m honestly more scared of a Ted Cruz presidency than I am of a Trump presidency.
In fairness, neither is appealing in its own right. Neither (in my opinion) is a Clinton presidency, as it’s worth noting that Hillary’s attempt to position herself as an LGBT advocate is deeply disingenuous (she consistently voted against LGBT rights... and polls have shown she isn’t likely to beat Trump or Cruz in November). As you can imagine, I’d love to feel the Bern, but then again I’d also like series 2 of Firefly, and we can’t have everything we want.
Trump, for all of his considerable faults, has thankfully never held office, so his ideas, horrifying as they are, are still just that: ideas. Cruz, on the other hand, has undertaken a number of political projects which should strike any sober, rational reader as utter madness. A brief review of Cruz’s political positions shows someone who sits very much on the extreme right of the political spectrum. In September 2015, the rapidly anti-abortion Cruz threatened to cause a government shutdown is his attempts to deny funding to Planned Parenthood. Cruz also played a pivotal role in the 2013 shutdown of the Federal Government over Obamacare.
Rather like his more boisterous opponent, Cruz is also in favour of walling off the border between the USA and Mexico. He also pledged his support to Kim Davis, the county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses for same sex couples. Even if you don’t find such far right views and acts disturbing, Davis broke the law: potential President Cruz backed her. Sociologist Luke March defines “extremism” as radical beliefs which seek to actively undermine democracy and the rule of law. What does that make Cruz?
Recently, distressed Southern belle Lindsey Graham was interviewed by Trevor Noah on The Daily Show. Graham had recently announced that he was backing Cruz, despite having previously, and emphatically, denounced Cruz. Pressed on this, Graham likened the difference between Trump and Cruz as the difference between being shot in the head or poisoned. At least poisoning has an antidote. I would argue that Graham got it the wrong way around.
Trump may be a Capri Sun-coloured racist, but his popularity with Republican voters is matched only by his deep unpopularity with the Republican party establishment, independent voters and Democrats. A Trump presidency would be vile, certainly, but Trump would encounter significant resistance from his own party and Congress on the way to the White House. Cruz might encounter some of the same resistance as another ‘outsider, but he is a very different level of ‘outsider’ to Trump. Imagine the Republican party is like a family Christmas gathering. If Cruz is the uncle who gets exiled to the kitchen for making a naughty joke, Trump is the citrus-skinned monster with a restraining order who isn’t allowed in the same postcode.
Despite the dangers of Trump, Cruz falls far short of innocence and moderation. Does the USA really want to give executive power to a man who wanted to shut down their government because of his unhealthy fascination with what women do or do not want in their uteruses?
In short, ‘President Trump’ is a scary concept, but ‘President Cruz’ is far more likely to happen and barely less terrifying.