With a tweet sent just after midnight on Monday, Ted Cruz’s presidential bid has begun, officially beginning the 2016 election season. The junior senator from Texas, known for his 21-hour filibuster and government shutdown that cost an estimated $24 billion, will surely prove a challenge for more “moderate” GOP candidates Jeb Bush and Scott Walker.
Comparing himself to Galileo, who was attacked for disputing the long-held theory of a flat Earth and geocentric universe, Cruz holds fast to his belief that climate change is a myth; he is also noted for denying global warming on the basis of snow on the ground during a winter appearance in New Hampshire. Cruz’s outlandish statements, however, are not limited to just science. His harsh, absurd statements include virtually every aspect of the political arena — gay marriage, the confirmation of the surgeon general, the Bill of Rights, entitlement programs and the Affordable Care Act, just to name a few.
What does Cruz’s announcement mean for the upcoming election cycle? In addition to a great season of Saturday Night Live, it will certainly mire the campaign platforms of more moderate candidates-to-be, forcing them to pander to the extreme edges of the right. Born in Canada to an American mother and Cuban father, Cruz will not likely face the same outcry from “birthers” that President Obama did; however, Donald Trump, a likely candidate himself, has already questioned Cruz’s eligibility to be commander-in-chief.
Cruz will most likely find his biggest challenge in Tea Party favorite Sen. Rand Paul, a favorite among conservative millennials. The two, while once cordial, have become increasingly hostile toward each other’s campaigns, attempting to detract from the fringe elements from either side. Meanwhile, waiting in the wings sit likely contenders Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and Dr. Ben Carson. All widely known for their outlandish statements, each will certainly pose an interesting challenge for Cruz and Paul, both of whom are trailing dismally in recent polls.
A possibility, albeit an unlikely one, may see one of the Tea Party candidates run on a third-party platform when Bush or Walker accepts the GOP nomination for president. Cruz seems the most likely candidate to make such a poor decision. Such a tactic was last seen in the election of 1912 when Theodore Roosevelt founded the Bull Moose Party and challenged William Howard Taft, splitting the conservative ticket and handing the White House to Woodrow Wilson.
More realistically, Cruz would need to make a sizable showing at the Iowa and New Hampshire caucuses. The most probable early indicator of who will win the party’s nomination, no individual, except Bill Clinton, has lost both caucuses but become the nominee since 1972.
Nonetheless, Cruz’s obnoxious attitude will certainly make Iowa and New Hampshire a challenge, since caucus-goers there expect a sizable amount of wooing, says Reggie Love, special assistant to Obama from 2007-2011.
With all this in mind, what can we expect out of 2016? First, as previously mentioned, we can expect a great season of late-night comedy. Cruz will undoubtedly lose the nomination and take up a role as a FOX News resident “correspondent” alongside half-term governor Sarah Palin. It remains to be seen which match-up we will see in the general election; my bet is Bush v. Clinton with Clinton winning the White House, but that’s pure speculation. In the words of beloved political science professor William Parente, Ph.D.: “Send me an email and let me know what happens.”
March 27, 2015