Wisconsin has been the focus of attention in the presidential primary process for the last couple of weeks. This is something new for us, since the nominations are usually essentially already decided by the time our state votes. On the Republican side, in particular, we have the chance to make a significant statement about the direction of the race and the party, and I hope that we will take that opportunity to move things in a more sensible direction.
There is no rational explanation for the success that Donald Trump has had to this point in the Republican presidential contest, as he is completely unqualified and is not really a Republican, let alone a conservative. Still, inexplicably, this man has managed to garner more votes and delegates than anyone else, and it will take a lot of things falling into place for his opposition to prevent him from becoming the nominee. A victory for Ted Cruz in Wisconsin would show once again that Republicans as a whole are not ready to fall in line behind the front-running Trump and hand him the nomination, and it would be one important step toward making a different outcome possible.
The choice before voters should not be a difficult one. Early on, perhaps the presence of so many Republican candidates in the race led some of the public astray -- unable to focus on all of the options, they may have paid attention only to the person constantly in the limelight. Now, however, there are three candidates remaining, and voters should certainly care enough to look into each of them sufficiently to see the differences among them and learn which might be worthy of a presidential nomination. For many months now, Trump has repeated vague intentions of winning, negotiating good deals, and "making America great again," while demonstrating that he has no clue how to actually go about improving things should he (heaven forbid) become president. In contrast, many of his opponents, including Senator Ted Cruz, have put forth actual plans regarding taxes, health care, and many other issues and shown that they in fact do have relevant knowledge with which to approach America’s concerns.
Since the beginning of the race, Trump has run a campaign of insults and attempts at intimidation aimed at his opponents, protesters, the media, the Republican party, and anyone else that gets in his way. He also is serially dishonest and changes his stories and positions constantly, sometimes even within a few hours. These tendencies have certainly been on display during the last two weeks in unpleasant episodes such as Trump’s Twitter targeting of Cruz’s wife, which he tried to justify with the false claim that Cruz had been involved in an outside anti-Trump group’s ad that used a photo of Mrs. Trump. In another example, Trump’s campaign manager was recently charged with misdemeanor battery for his rough treatment of a female reporter in Florida in an incident that both Trump and the staffer had at times downplayed and at times denied, while accusing the journalist of making things up. After the charges were filed, Trump not only defended his campaign manager, but also suggested that his actions were justified because the journalist and her pen (which could have been a small bomb, after all!) might have been a threat to Trump. In the last few days, Trump has also stated at least four different opinions about abortion laws, and he has once again said that, despite pledging to do so, he might not support a different nominee if he doesn’t think he’s treated “fairly” at the Republican convention.
Recent days have also brought even more evidence against Donald Trump’s candidacy for the GOP nomination. When asked about important functions of the federal government, in addition to security, he listed everything from health care and education to housing and the creation of strong neighborhoods. While campaigning here in Wisconsin, Trump persisted in using discredited liberal criticisms to attack our own Governor Scott Walker, putting Trump on the same page as Sanders and Clinton. Trump has also casually suggested radical changes in our foreign policies toward allies if they don’t contribute more financially to the arrangements, and he has been rather nonchalant in his discussions of the possible spread or use of nuclear weapons. This is clearly not a man who is in any way a limited government conservative Republican, and his uninformed recklessness would be extremely dangerous on the world stage. Trump has shown little regard for the way our system of government is intended to work, and the main premise of his campaign seems to be that putting him in charge will solve everything. Donald Trump's statements have been so inconsistent that we can’t really have any idea what goals or policies he would actually pursue if in office, but his extreme self-centeredness coupled with the positive things he’s said about authoritarian governments and leaders suggests that a President Trump might well exceed the boundaries of executive authority to a far greater degree than even the current occupant of the White House already has.
In contrast, Ted Cruz has a long-standing appreciation of the U.S. Constitution and its principles of limited government. He intends to undo Barack Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders, protect the rights and freedoms of citizens, reform taxes and regulations, and rein in the federal bureaucracy. Unlike Donald Trump, Cruz is knowledgeable about foreign and domestic policy issues and has spent time thinking through his positions and proposals for goals such as economic improvement and the rebuilding of the military, among many others. Cruz understands the importance of maintaining our relationships with Israel, NATO, and other allies and also recognizes the need to deal with threats from our enemies by, for example, more aggressively targeting ISIS and rejecting Obama’s “agreement” with Iran. The current Supreme Court vacancy is a reminder of the importance of presidents in shaping the direction of the courts. Ted Cruz will seek to appoint judges who follow the law and the Constitution, and his legal background as a clerk at the Supreme Court and as Solicitor General of Texas makes him particularly well-suited to choose strong people for the bench. While in Washington, Senator Cruz has demonstrated his willingness to stand up for what he thinks should be done, even in the face of harsh criticism, sometimes from his own party. Throughout the campaign, Cruz has shown a level-headed demeanor and a focus on issues. He is not easily distracted from making his points by unfriendly reporters or hostile opponents, and he does not fly off the handle and hurl insults every time things do not go his way. It took an unfair attack on his family to prompt him to, understandably, call Trump a “coward” for dragging Cruz’ wife into his Twitter war. In short, Cruz has the experience, preparation, convictions, and temperament to qualify him for the presidency, while his chief opponent clearly does not.
Of course, there is also a third candidate seeking votes in the Republican primary. Governor John Kasich is an experienced politician with considerable success during his career, and he would certainly be a far better nominee or president than Donald Trump. However, some aspects of his record and positions, including Medicaid expansion in Ohio and a proposal to once again pursue comprehensive immigration reform early in a presidential term, are not ideal. In addition, his track record so far during this primary season has not been strong, as he has won only in his home state and has often received very low levels of voter support. With Ted Cruz’ stronger conservative message and better results in this year’s elections, he is the best available choice for Republicans.
After the seemingly unprecedented amount of candidate visits and media attention Wisconsin has received lately, our voters now have the chance to make a crucial choice about the future of this year’s presidential election and our country. I am hopeful that we will reject the disastrous candidacy of Donald Trump and help to steer the Republican nomination process back in the right direction by providing a much-needed victory to the genuinely conservative and infinitely more presidential candidate, Senator Ted Cruz.