The Wrong Reason to Not Support Ted Cruz

On Monday, Ted Cruz announced his presidential candidacy in a speech at Liberty University. He is the first major candidate to officially announce. There is a lot to like about Ted Cruz. On most issues he is as conservative as or more than his Senate GOP colleagues. I also like his combative attitude, and his willingness to take on the GOP Establishment.  However, I can’t support him because of his support for interventionist foreign policy.

Some noninterventionists originally held out hope that Cruz might be at least somewhat different on foreign policy. He was endorsed by Ron Paul in his outsider primary campaign against the GOP Establishment candidate, David Dewhurst. While he generally campaigned as a typical Republican on foreign policy, he made some rhetorical gestures toward reticence on foreign involvement that gave some noninterventionists reason for guarded optimism. He did oppose President Obama’s call to escalate our involvement in the war in Syria. Unfortunately, with the rise of ISIS and the negotiations with Iran, Cruz has gone full warmonger.

Cruz seems to be positioning himself as the candidate who is more conservative by degree, so this has recently manifested itself as more bellicose interventionist rhetoric.

That said, a lot of the criticism of Cruz’s candidacy from the “realist” right that I have seen so far is along the lines that he is not a serious contender, and he can’t win, so why bother? For example, paleocon Daniel Larison calls Cruz’s campaign a “stunt” in a The American Conservative blog post. I believe this is the wrong reason to criticize a Cruz candidacy. It is not helpful to the cause of nonintervention to criticize a candidate simply because he is a long shot.

First, the argument that only candidates who have a reasonable shot at securing the nomination should run perpetuates the status quo. The Powers That Be would love to designate beforehand who is and is not a credible candidate, and therefore restrict the field, in both major parties, to “reasonable” centrists. They don’t want long shots ideological outliers cluttering up their centrist message. Why, would a noninterventionist want to do the Establishment’s dirty work for them and help cull the field?

Also, the other side isn’t playing by this rule this time around. There is something to be said for message candidates and message campaigns. That is why Sen. Lindsey Graham, Ambassador John Bolton and Rep. Peter King have all made some noise about running, and each of them has less chance of securing the nomination than Cruz. They have all indicated that if they run it will be for the purpose of opposing the rising “isolationist” menace (I wish!) within the GOP that exists primarily in the fervid imaginations of uber-hawks.

Second, any noninterventionist candidate (for the record, I do not count Rand Paul among these) who decides to get in, and hopefully one will, is bound to be a long shot, so how does it help our cause to criticize Cruz because he is a long shot per se? This strikes me as quite short sighted. The two best candidates in recent times from a noninterventionist perspective, Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan, were both long shots with little chance of securing the nomination, but both advanced a message that desperately needs advancing today.

So noninterventionists, criticize Cruz because he pretends to be an anti-Establishment candidate while shilling for the biggest Establishment plank of them all, globalist interventionism. Criticize him because he squandered some promise on foreign policy to become just another hyper-interventionist mouthpiece, but don’t criticize him just because he is a long shot. That is simply not helpful to our cause.

Also posted at Voices of Liberty.

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