So, here we are in Bizarro World. The fictional alternative reality introduced by DC Comics where everything is the opposite of what we know in the "real" world. (Here's a link to the Wikipedia page explaining Bizarro World, if you're still not following.) What do I mean? The political race for the 2016 Presidential election has had one "impossible" turn of events after another. And it's resulted in the Republican establishment (increasingly referred-to lately as "GOPe" in online discussions) being forced into the position of having to hope, pray and work for insurgent candidate Ted Cruz.
Allow me to explain. The Republican establishment has spent the past 28 years giving the middle finger to the base of their own party. The conservatives who gave Ronald Reagan back-to-back landslide victories and a coalition of working class, traditionally Democrat voters were kicked to the curb in 1988 so that the Rockefeller wing of the party - sophisticated, Ivy League, "moderate" (liberal) blue bloods - could show the backward hillbillies of the base how the party should be run. Essentially, they hijacked the Reagan Revolution and substituted their own brand of squishy, wimpy message. Remember George H.W. Bush and his fellow moderates' "Kinder, Gentler Conservatism"? It was their response to the liberal drumbeat that Reagan was a big meanie. That Reagan didn't care about this special interest group or that social justice cause. Never mind the fact that Reagan was popular, had broad appeal across a variety of voting blocs, had singlehandedly swung the U.S. economy around from the depths of a horrible recession back to a global powerhouse, rebuilt the American military devastated by Carter budget cuts, etc. How effectively those goals were reached is a fun debate topic over beers with friends. But they were shared goals upon which most Americans agreed. Reagan's 49 state landslide victory punctuated and demonstrated the effectiveness of these shared goals. But in the country club set all of these Reagan supporters were sneered at as pro-life, blue collar commoners who liked their guns too much and were overly concerned with their own family and their own personal affairs. They could use some government oversight from their intellectual superiors. And the "Reagan Democrats" were no better. Small government, social stability and the shared goals of freedom, a strong economy and a strong military were quaint ideas of the unwashed masses who obviously couldn't understand the big world in Washington and the deals that had to be made with liberal Democrats.
The Republican establishment's position was always to accept the criticism and faux outrage of liberals and try to compromise to make them happy. For some reason, they never notice that their "compromise" always involves a GOP surrender and that their tormenters are never satisfied. And there has never been an example in my lifetime where liberals got a Republican establishment surrender and then embraced them as brothers. Because it's not about whatever they claim the issue to be. Never. It can be something about which they just make up on the spot and start making demands. It can be about gays. It can be about blacks. It can be about income inequality. It can be about anything. Like a child who demands money from his parents, knowing that mom will always split the difference and give half of what the kid is demanding as a "compromise". There's never a stand taken that no money is owed to the little brat at all. Or the propriety of the constant demands for more money. That's mean, you see, to be inflexible and unwilling to compromise. So the compromise devolves into a never-ending series of surrenders that adds up to an enormous amount over time. It's a blank check. And the Republican establishment's response is always to compromise. Which, over time, has pushed American culture to a place which most of us no longer even recognize as the nation we knew.
And all of this has been done over the strenuous objections of the base of the party. The core voters. The Reagan Democrats long ago disbanded as the GOP took on the role of the sniveling, weak country club set who change their position depending on the latest poll, what they think their donors want this week and routinely abandon whatever principles they have in the name of "compromise". Which, again, is just surrender to the latest liberal demand. They refuse to take a stand on anything except defeating any threat to their death grip on power within the party.
Which brings us back to the Bizarro World where they are forced to support the insurgent campaign of one of the most vilified men in the entire party. Ted Cruz has defied the Republican establishment from his first day in Washington. He's stood on his principles and been the focus of vicious hate within his own party as someone who doesn't understand the way things are done in Washington and the kind of compromise that's necessary with liberal Democrats in the eternal quest to get them and the media to like Republicans. So, how did this happen? How is it that the establishment is now forced to actively work for Ted Cruz?
Donald Trump appeared to be on his way to the nomination before Cruz's solid showing on Super Tuesday and again on March 5th, winning Kansas & Maine. A few weeks ago, after Jeb Bush and Chris Christie pulled the plug on their campaigns and the establishment realized that John Kasich wasn't going to be able to bring them their prize, they cozied up to Marco Rubio. Rubio embraced the love of the establishment and took on the role of "The Man Who Must Beat Trump". He was quickly crushed at the polls and, just like that, his candidacy is now all but over. He's only been able to win the most liberal state (Minnesota) and the delegates from Puerto Rico (whose voters don't get to vote in the Presidential election). As poorly as Rubio was running, it became the kiss of death for him to be the establishment choice.
The Republican establishment is now left with only two options. The first option is they can accept their profound rejection by their own party's voters and try to make the best of it. But that would require honesty and admitting that they've been governing against the will of their own voters and have brought this on themselves. We know that honesty won't figure into any of their plans. So their only remaining option is to proclaim their voters to be too stupid to know what's good for them and figure out a way to deny Trump the 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the nomination. With the race being down to Cruz and Trump for all intents and purposes, the only way forward for the establishment is to work to get votes for Cruz for the sole purpose of denying Trump the necessary delegates. When no candidate has the required number, it becomes a free-for-all and the establishment seems to believe that they might be able to cobble together enough delegates to give Mitt Romney the nomination. Romney, for his part, has basically said that he would accept a nomination stolen from primary voters.
From a purely mathematical and rational standpoint, if Romney is the nominee, there is no possible way that the Republican party can win the general election. If Mitt Romney accepts the nomination from a party in which not a single primary voter has cast a ballot for him, he will not win the Presidency.
The tightrope that the GOP establishment is walking is this: They need to support and promote Ted Cruz for the sole purpose of denying those delegates to Donald Trump. But they can't over-do it and accidentally give Cruz enough delegates to get the nomination. And then, they face the prospect of trying to figure out a way to weasel their own selection into the party's nomination when 80% or more of the party voters have emphatically rejected all of their selections.
It needs to be clearly stated and understood what is happening here. The GOP establishment is attempting to override Republican primary voters. Just as they pretend to be conservatives at election time and then break every promise immediately upon being elected and lecture the voters that "Washington is about compromise and cutting deals!" Republican elites are seeking to erase the voters' choice and substitute their own candidate. But they can do math, just like we can. They know they cannot win the Presidency with a candidate that their voters don't want. But they are willing to lose the general election rather than allow the lowly voters to actually have a say in who the nominee will be. The problem is, at this point, the voters believe their votes and their opinion matters. Welcome to Bizarro World.