Cross My Heart

On Super Tuesday, 14 states will hold primary elections. It will be a tough choice for Republicans – they have to choose between so many aces.

Donald Trump

Trump promises the U.S. will build a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico and shouts to the audience, “And who will pay for it?” Thousands in the audience shout back, “Mexico!” The crowds love him for his plan to seal off the southern U.S. border just as a majority of them approve of his idea to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the country. His immigration agenda is clear, but other than that, the currently most popular Republican presidential candidate’s plans are — to put it charitably — vague. He promises to make America great again. That and the Mexican wall are the only things that remain constant. Other than that, he says he will beat the Chinese economically and bring jobs back to the United States. Promise piled upon promise. When asked to elaborate on how he would accomplish what he promises, his favorite stock answer is, “I’ll just do it.”

He doesn’t believe climate change is real but is convinced capital punishment is an effective deterrent to crime. He rejects further restrictions on gun ownership and wants to expand the military with the express intention of completely destroying the Islamic State. He thinks international alliances are a waste of time and that he and men like Vladimir Putin are much alike and would get along well together.

He plagiarized his election slogan from Ronald Reagan and with it hopes to lead the nation back to the Reagan era, a time that the nation’s conservatives still regard as heaven on earth. The fact that the budget deficit was the highest it has ever been under Reagan’s leadership? Totally forgotten. Despite the size of the current debt, Trump still promises he will cut taxes for the middle class and that corporations, if he has his way, will pay no more than a 15 percent tax on their profits.

Trump describes himself as a traditionalist. His opinions on gender equality are clear: he is against discrimination but rejects same-sex marriage. He is on his third marriage himself, wed to Melania, a model. Referring to his trophy bride in New Hampshire, he told the crowd she was more beautiful on the inside than she was on the outside. He’s in the midst of an election campaign and women make up one of the few groups with which he’s not overly popular.

Marco Rubio

The conservative Republican establishment’s choice is Marco Rubio. At least now that Jeb Bush and Chris Christie didn’t make much of a splash. So it’s Rubio, who obediently ends all his speeches with the promise that he can bring the party and the movement – the movement being the frustrated and disaffected that are now cheering for Trump – back together in the Republican tent. But while the baby-faced 44-year-old candidate – the perfect poster boy for his party – may perhaps be more predictable than Trump or Cruz, “moderate” is little more than a meaningless label for him.

As a Catholic, he is opposed to abortion even in cases of rape or incest, he rejects same-sex marriage but in an interview about love and respect, he once admitted he would probably attend a same-sex marriage ceremony between two of his close friends. Rubio’s circle of friends is probably so heavily hetero-oriented that he need have no fear of that ever happening.

By conservative standards, his tax plans are complex and include tax relief for families with children. In addition, the top tax rate would fall from 40 percent to a maximum of 35 percent. His campaign is aimed at the lower end of the middle class. “I know what it’s like living paycheck-to-paycheck,” the son of Cuban exiles told the audience. He would immediately do away with Obama’s health care reforms, a plan which drew joyous approval from those who profited most under the old health care system. On homeland security, Rubio wants to keep Guantanamo open and his top priority will be to topple Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in order to defeat the Islamic State group.

The terrorist militia is, in addition, Rubio’s argument for stiffening U.S. immigration policies after previously working toward a more liberal immigration policy as a senator in cooperation with his Democratic counterparts. That’s something he can no longer do as a Republican presidential candidate.

Ted Cruz

Listening to Ted Cruz give a speech is like sitting in church. The Texas senator has a pastoral intonation reminiscent of a sermon rather than a political address. And most of his appearances are, in fact, sermons. The darling of the tea party movement is also the most religious of the conservative candidates. His target is the evangelical voter. Besides Trump, he is the only candidate to thus far actually win a primary – the opener in Iowa. There he began his victory speech with the starting lines of a Christian hymn: “To God be the glory.” Religion is the cornerstone of his campaign and Cruz, a Baptist, espouses religious freedom – by which he means that everyone’s personal beliefs have to be protected even if their beliefs conflict with the law. Naturally, Cruz is against same-sex marriage and abortion. If he were president he would allow each individual state to decide whether same-sex marriage is permissible regardless of the Supreme Court decision that already legalized it.

Cruz wants to forbid Syrian refugees from entering the United States, making exceptions only for those being persecuted for their Christian faith. His immigration policy is strict and he has repeatedly opposed giving undocumented immigrants any opportunity to attain legal citizenship. As a Texas senator, he supports increased border security with Mexico and stiffer legal penalties against formerly deported individuals who reenter the country.

Cruz sees climate change as purely a question of faith, telling Glenn Beck in an interview, “Climate change is not science, it’s religion.” Unlike religion, the climate isn’t deserving of protection in his opinion. On the contrary, he believes it’s all an evil plot to restrict and weaken the U.S. economy.

On foreign policy questions, a President Cruz would brook no weakness: He would destroy the Islamic State group and its terrorist militia by bombing and he not only has no political solution to the Syrian problem, he has no interest in trying to find one. Cruz says the U.S. shouldn’t get involved there at all. The bottom line is Cruz has no detailed foreign policy agenda other than more bombs and more secure borders.

On domestic policy, Cruz is the ultimate conservative: No restrictions on guns whatsoever; yes to capital punishment; less government; reduced taxes and – it goes without saying – no Obamacare.


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