Ted Cruz withdrew from the race for Republican Presidential nominee on May 3, 2016, after losing badly to Mr. Trump in the Indiana primary election, making it manifest to all that Donald Trump is the nominee of the Republican Party. But as recently as a week ago, he was beating Trump by double digits in that State’s polls. How was Trump able to defeat Cruz? Why would conservative Indiana voters choose this amoral New Yorker over a Bible-raising, scripture-quoting Evangelical? Cruz failed to project the image of a caring Patriarch. Women are not the only ones who desire the Patriarch. All people do, particularly culturally bastardized Americans who no longer remember nor care about their rebelliously independent heritage, whose Public School educations teach them more about Liberia than about Liberty.
I want to look at the recent battle between Trump and Cruz from a Patriarchal perspective, focusing upon the rhetorical impact of either man’s words and deeds, and attempt to draw out reasons for Trump’s appeal and Cruz’s lack thereof that we may apply to our own lives. It’s actually rather a perplexing problem, when you think about it, that a man like Trump was able to defeat a man like Cruz when the judges were conservative Republicans. What happened?
Trump Promised Protectionism
The rhetorical means most Republican candidates, including Mr. Cruz, typically use when asked about the middle class losing jobs is to lower taxes, support education reforms and to get government out of the way by removing oppressive regulations and allow business owners to get down to doing business. The problem with this is that after the famous Wall Street abuses stretching all the way back to Enron in Bush II’s tenure, Americans have come to believe that these regulations are necessary to protect ordinary Americans from insatiably rapacious executives with insufficient incentive, apart from avoiding jail time, to do the right thing by their employees.
Trump, however, has fixated his line of fire on the “false song of Globalism” as he said in his recent International policy speech. He pointed fingers at particular figures to be defeated who, though not necessarily evil, through their indifference to the plight of the American middle class and profit motivators, are depressing American jobs. Carrier Air-conditioning, by chance or by far-sighted design, headquartered in Indiana, the crucial state that proved Cruz’s bane. China, America’s Twenty-first Century Economic and military runner-up, who seem to have no interest in “playing by the rules” of human rights, intellectual property, trade equity, or currency stability. Mexico, the recipient of Nabisco and Carrier new business, importing our jobs and exporting their undesirable poor.
Trump offered Protectionism against these threats, economic or otherwise. I do not here want to philosophically defend Protectionism over Free Trade, but only note its rhetorical superiority. Unlike appeals to people’s independence, requiring effort on the part of the people involved, demanding that Americans compete on a level playing field in a world-market that forces people to work for extremely low wages in sweatshops, Protectionism tells the people to keep doing the same thing, while the Patriarch removes the supposedly unfair competition.
Cruz Came Off as Out of Touch
In the past few days, Senator Cruz came off as out of touch and made stupid rhetorical mistakes. He tried to quote a famous movie, but instead of using the correct term, “basketball hoop,” which was right in front of him, since he was in a gymnasium, he called it a “basketball ring”. Um, what planet are you…?
And then his Vice Presidential running mate bizarrely fell off the stage at a campaign event, and Cruz failed to do anything to help her. Instead he continued shaking hands. From a chivalry perspective, it was a nightmare.
Finally, in the last days of his Indiana campaign, Cruz made the incredibly foolish decision to engage with a Trump supporter wearing reflective sunglasses holding up a Trump sign. After engaging with this middle-class-looking guy, Cruz made the further mistake of continuing to engage with him while being interrupted and rhetorically thrashed.
Three Points the Hoosier brought up were:
- Senator Cruz’s low polling
- Senator Cruz’s wife’s job as a banker at Goldman Sachs
- Senator Cruz’s Canadian origins
Point Two brings up an interesting contrast between Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz.
Trump’s Wife Embraces a Traditional Gender Role
Melania Trump has repeatedly said that her lack of visibility on the campaign is because she is raising her young son Barron Trump. Heidi Cruz, on the other hand, is a career banker working for a large corporation.
For all Melania Trump’s sordid underwear model past, I believe that conservatives respond well to a woman who values the life of the next generation enough to devote (or appear to devote) her time to raising her son rather than gallivant around the country with her children on a bus, as Cruz chose to do with his two daughters.
In Dr. Marshall’s recent Maccabean article on what is an Alpha Male, he concludes that successful progeny is the chief mark of the Alpha Male. Trump’s domestic set-up seems to be more conducive to producing successful progeny, and he already has successful adult progeny, whereas Mr. Cruz only has two young daughters. True, Trump has undergone two divorces, but this does not diminish the fact that his children have gone on to be successful in a worldly sense. This too may play a role in Mr. Trump’s rhetorical defeat of Cruz.
Trump Appealed to the Tribe, Cruz to the Law
Whereas Cruz made an appeal to an ideal abstract concept of government, to the idea of Constitutional governance, Trump’s appeal was to simple loyalty to the American tribe, over and against the other tribes. Overall, Cruz came to represent an adherence to Law, even over Equity. In both Colorado and Arizona, Cruz’s shenanigans of winning delegates that by a proportionate division would have gone to Trump made him look devious at best, and a cooperator in a corrupt system, independent of the Will of the People at worst. When called on this, his supporters made reference to “The Rules,” which Cruz was indeed playing by and using to his advantage.
I believe though that Cruz actually hurt himself by applying these legalistic tactics and confirmed in people’s minds his image as a sneak, rather than a candidate who wins fair and square by appealing directly to the people. These were Pyrrhic victories because of the cost in image, particularly against a master manipulator like Trump, who knew exactly how to spin these “losses” to his advantage against “Lyin’ Ted”.
Cruz had plausible deniability when his surrogates announced falsely that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race on the night of the Iowa caucus, even though he failed to punish any of them, as Sanders did when his surrogates illegally accessed the Clinton campaign’s polling information a few months ago. Is it a coincidence that Sanders is able to continue winning primaries, including the recent one in Indiana? His strength is his incorruptible persona, despite his insane socialist beliefs. And again when Cruz’s surrogates falsely announced that Marco Rubio was leaving the race in Hawaii, no one was fired. All of these incidents combined to make it difficult for Mr. Cruz to sell his image as a fair-dealing man, who would give a hand-up to the American people; he couldn’t even be bothered to give a hand up to his fallen running mate. Such is the rhetorical impact, anyway.
Cruz Looked Out of Shape
I honestly believe that this had a roll to play, although not a major one. While not risibly overweight, like Mr. Christie, Mr. Cruz, significantly younger than Mr. Trump, did not look as healthy, with significantly more fat visible around his face. It did not help matters that his manner of speech was far more measured and slow, with many pregnant pauses. Mr. Trump’s energy and dynamic style made him by far more viscerally appealing to the voters.
Mr. Cruz had a far more pure conservative and even more Christian message than Mr. Trump, but the packaging of that message was poor, and thus the effort doomed to fail. The physical incarnation in the person of Mr. Cruz and those he surrounded himself with was flawed. We conservative Christians should look at what has happened and apply the lesson to our own lives: we must not only hold the truth, but we must do our best to clothe it appealingly, lest something less morally good but more attractive prevail. We must work out, because people are more likely to favor the physically fit man. We must appeal not just to the truth (whether that be the gospel when evangelizing, or to a sense of “fairness” in our business dealings). Rather, we should attempt to provide concrete examples of how hiring us, choosing our product, converting to our religion, etc., will immediately benefit our clients or acquaintances. And of course it goes without saying, we must be always more concerned about others and helping others than ourselves.
We should marry women who embrace traditional gender roles, not because we “fear strong women,” but because our children deserve to be raised by their mothers and not just by their grandparents or daycare centers. We must become Patriarchs if we wish to have the kind of momentum and structural stability in our lives that Trump has built up in his campaign.
You don’t have to support Mr. Trump in order to see his strengths and apply them. Grace does not supersede and destroy the Natural Order, part of which is the Order of the Patriarchy in human affairs. Rather, Grace perfects the Natural Order. Only by understanding Mr. Trump’s strengths and ordering them within a Christian context can we defeat the Trumps of the World, by offering a superior alternative.
I am not by any stretch of the imagination claiming that this analysis is comprehensive. Rather, I am trying to figure out what we can learn from these events and apply profitably to our lives, churches and communities.
Why do you think Cruz lost? Tell us in the comments below.
My theology blog is Defense for the Hope.