In Iowa, there are two opposing factors at play that will determine the result of the February 1 caucus. The first is manipulation by the media and the Republican Establishment. The second is the passionate hope of an amazing turnaround for the United States of America. The stakes are high. This isn’t just about Iowa. For the first time in decades, this first caucus will have a tremendous influence on the entire race.
Donald Trump has embodied the extreme angst that voters across the spectrum have been feeling for nearly two decades. The faith they had in a system of government that has helped this nation succeed in the past has been shaken by poor choices and an unfortunate lack of talent in Washington DC. Ronald Reagan was the last American Statesman to sit in the Oval Office. There have been others since he left office who picked up the mantle and did what they could, but none of them ran for President. This has built up a righteous anger towards politicians on both sides. It’s a hunger that has made the electorate cranky; we’ve been eating hamburgers and hot dogs for a while and we’re starting to forget what it’s like to eat a juicy political steak.
In many ways, Trump should be commended. He has changed the conversation. Perhaps more importantly, we will be able to look back at the Trump phenomenon and see that his entry into the election has been the herald to alert conservatives that we can win this election is we believe and act, thereby shielding Ted Cruz from attacks and scrutiny until the time was right for him to emerge into prominence. Now, the only question is whether the herald will be seen as more than the messenger. The bearer of good news has turned to attack the embodiment of the news itself. Will voters be able to tell which candidate is saying the right things and which will do the right things?
Let’s examine the four dynamics of the race that will determine what happens in Iowa and beyond.
Power of the Poll Interpreters
In Matthew 7:16, we read: Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
When reading or hearing the narratives being painted by thought leaders in the media, it’s important to dig into their agendas to determine how much credence should be given to their message. Today, I read a story that took the current Iowa poll numbers and presented them in a way that every Republican voter in Iowa must understand. It surprised me because it was on Breitbart, a publication that has been favoring Trump for a long time. As I read through and became impressed with the insights, my surprise about the fairness and insights in the piece faded. The author is Ben Shapiro. I should have known him by his fruits.
Few commentators have accurately analyzed this GOP race so far. IMO, Shapiro's take has been truer than the others. https://t.co/OfkrU8KRhb
— Taryn (@TarynOnthenews) January 24, 2016
The irony, of course, is that I’m invoking a verse from the New Testament to give credit to an Orthodox Jew. As far as America is concerned, it’s our Judeo-Christian heritage and the values of faith embodied by the Old and New Testament that have contributed to unprecedented prosperity. This is at risk as the Obama administration turned our alliance with Israel into a relationship and they’re systematically making that relationship into a bad one. It’s one of the biggest reasons that we need Cruz in the White House, but I digress.
Shapiro is absolutely correct when he notes the importance of the caucus format. Cruz and Trump are neck-and-neck in the polls, but the important numbers to look at are in the sentiment:
Beyond that, Trump has the highest negatives of any candidate in Iowa outside of Jeb Bush – he’s at 54 percent positive and 45 percent negative. Cruz, by contrast, has the highest positives: 76 percent to 19 percent. This means that Cruz is everybody’s second pick – so as the field narrows, Cruz should gain.
Moreover, he points out that dedication required to spend time at caucus is greater than the effort in most states to run down to the ballot box on a lunch break. One must commit themselves to caucus in Iowa. It’s not a task. it’s an experience, one that should favor the passionate conservatives following Cruz. There’s passion for Trump as well as can be seen on social media, but is it enough to bring them out caucus? Since we’ve never seen a phenomenon like Trump in Iowa politics, there’s no way to no for sure. However, the process likely favors Cruz.
We will hear many pundits and thought leaders in the coming days touting how Trump is moving up in the polls and that it spells doom for Cruz. Don’t be fooled. Whether by ignorance or agenda, they will paint Trump as having a huge advantage that isn’t really there. Their fruits are veiled but easy to understand if you’re watching carefully.
Détente: Mainstream Media and the Republican Establishment
We are witnessing something that hasn’t happened for years. The liberal mainstream media has put their normal barrage of attacks on the Republican Establishment on hold for a while in an effort to take down an element that is more dangerous to the status quo than anything they’ve faced in a while. It’s hard to tell who fears Ted Cruz more: the liberal media or the Republican Establishment.
Their goals are different but the paths to achieving their goals are both being blocked by Cruz.
The media is foaming at the mouth to get Trump as the GOP nominee. It isn’t out of affection or support nor is it a coordinated effort for the most part. Some want to see him in there because they view him as the easiest (only?) path to victory for the Democrats to win the White House. Others see him as a constant flow of readers/viewers for their attacks that will come once he secures the nomination. Some see no downside to a Trump nomination at all; they win politically and they win with more readers/viewers. They won’t even have to try very hard to manufacturer content because he’s a goldmine for them. Trump is their ticket to reach anti-Republican journalistic nirvana.
The Republican Establishment fears a Cruz Presidency. They suffered a terrible loss in 1980 despite efforts similar to what they’re mounting against Cruz. What conservatives need to understand is that Mitch McConnell, Karl Rove, Reince Preibus, and the other members of the GOP Getalong Gang would rather support someone like Trump who they feel they can control rather than a Cruz or a Reagan who they know they’ll never control. They crave power more than anything else and a true conservative in the White House would disrupt the state of affairs.
They have seen how quickly Trump went from not understanding ethanol subsidies to suddenly calling for increased ethanol mandates. This wasn’t just to appease moderate Iowa Governor Terry Branstad or anti-Reaganite Bob Dole. It was a not-so-subtle message to the Republican Establishment that he’ll make deals, that he’ll play ball. In case the message wasn’t received, he made it crystal clear. In other words, Donald Trump IS the Establishment. even if he’s not their ideal choice. To the Getalong Gang, it’s better to have a temperamental, unpredictable, inexperienced, egotistical destroyer of common decency that they can control rather than a principled conservative with a history of keeping his promises.
As long as Cruz is in the picture, the media will give their old foes in the Establishment a pass to use their platforms as they see fit. If Trump gets in, the cease fire will end as the status quo will have been preserved.
Real Hope and Better Change
In 2008, the rallying cry for hope and change helped to propel Barack Obama to victory. “Yes we can” was the slogan and it worked despite long odds against a famous figure.
He was a Constitutional scholar and 1st term Senator in a major state. As long as he had a teleprompter, he could deliver incredible speeches. He had extreme views that were thought to be too polarizing for general election victory, but as a minority that graduated magna cum laude at Harvard Law School where he served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review, he was able to parlay his youthful ideology and passion into lopsided nomination and general election wins.
The clever reader will see what I did with the previous paragraph. If you take out the teleprompter jab, the description could be applied to Ted Cruz if he’s able to win. Their paths are very similar and should help to dispel misconceptions that he can’t win in November if nominated.
The similarities will end there. President Cruz would take the polar opposite approach to hope and change that takes them out of the context of campaign slogans and turns them into actions. First, he’ll attempt to undo or correct every damaging aspect of the Obama, Bush, and Clinton administrations. Then, he’ll work towards initiating a government that acts in the best interests of the people from a principled perspective.
Americans in general and Iowans in particular need to rally behind these ideas rather than allowing the barrage of attacks to steal your hope. Cruz is positioned to win the nomination based upon his character, but perhaps more importantly based upon the logistics of the race. The “SEC Primaries” on March 1 include several potential victories in Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Arkansas. He has an opportunity to have a large delegate lead in the first week of March that will cause many if not most of the candidates to drop out.
It all starts with an Iowa victory. This is crucial because of the psychology of Trump and his supporters.
Trump Can’t Handle Losing
A loss in Iowa would make Trump turn very ugly towards Cruz, the media, and Iowans (yes, even uglier than he is today). He will send out a barrage of insults. He will point to Iowa’s recent history of picking losers. He will talk about the difference between “Iowa values” and “American values” (remember that when you see it happen). He will take his campaign up a notch.
That’s what would happen if he loses. On the other hand, if he loses badly, he could actually be done. That’s right. If Trump suffers defeat, he’ll lash out, but if he suffers a humiliating defeat that points to the frailty of his precious polling numbers, he will be so deflated that he might not even make it into March. As impossible as it is to conceive, Iowa could be the catalyst that leads to a very early exit for Trump.
Trump is a prudent man when it comes to winning and losing. He tends to bail out quickly when faced with eventual defeat as we can see with his four affiliated bankruptcies and how he abandoned Trump Air and Trump Mortgage so quickly. Remember, he’s a billionaire with a gargantuan ego. He has no incentive to suffer for a cause.
A defeat in Iowa will also have a dramatic effect on his supporters. Many of them are authoritarians who can only be enlightened by seeing their chosen one fall from grace. This is why Trump can get away with mocking his own supporters.
Iowans who support Cruz must fight as hard as they can for every vote possible. They must talk to those who are considering throwing their votes away on Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, or Rand Paul. They must talk sense into Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush supporters who need to know why Establishment candidates must not earn their vote. They need to appeal to Ben Carson supporters who love him for his ideals but who need to vote for someone with similar perspectives that has a better chance of winning.
For Trump to suffer a crushing defeat, the Iowa Caucus starts immediately.
The Way Forward
The path for America will either be laid out by the Democrats or by Ted Cruz. Donald Trump is very unlikely to garner enough support outside of his base and party-line Republicans in the general election if he is nominated which means that Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or even Michael Bloomberg would be the next President.
The only thing that can prevent a major win for Ted Cruz in Iowa is if voters are made to believe that Donald Trump has already won. Reality is very different from what’s being sold to voters as “truth.” Either Trump will become a self-fulfilling prophecy or Iowans will see through the con.