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Tough Love Or “Tough Titties”?

It must SUCK to be a Democrat during the 2016 primary season. All their decisions, as usual, have been made for them. No room for differences of opinion; just a one way train to Hillary.

Thankfully, we are NOT on the Left.  We actually have the ability (and DUTY) to vet our broad field of candidates. As such, we WANT to be on the lookout for any bad signs in our candidates, regardless of how much we agree with them. It’s just basic due diligence, and it needs to be done.

That being the case, it caught our eye when blogger collisionofchurchandstate posted an article entitled “I’m Not Supporting Ted Cruz: The Post I Never Wanted to Write”.

With a title like that, it’s clear that Collision has some issues with Ted Cruz. Which, of course, is totally fine. As we said, the ability to prefer different candidates is a nice perk of being a Republican. So, let’s see what exactly it is about Senator Cruz that Collision has problems with.

It’s important to note that Collision doesn’t leap directly into her disagreements with Senator Cruz. She first outlines how excited she was to follow Ted when he burst onto the conservative scene:

“I followed his every move, I sang his praises. I remember running a pro-life booth at a fair a few years back, and campaigning for a Wisconsin Republican. I was talking with people all day about that “up-and-comer Ted Cruz,” and how he seemed to stand for truth and speak his mind so well.”

Her initial excitement was not apparently sustained, however:

“I remember following Cruz back when he was in support of Birthright Citizenship, H-1B visa increases, legalizing illegal immigrants, abolishing the TSA, anti-government stimul… Oh, sorry, was I getting carried away? You know… Stances he took before he knew you didn’t like them. Maybe that’s the most difficult part of this, being told what he does and doesn’t support by those who didn’t follow him as closely as I did. I know what he supported, I also know how he’s changed.”

So, here’s where things start getting snippy. When we initially looked at this article, it seemed like the goal was to convey the reasons why the author was no longer a Cruz supporter- instead, however, there’s a snarky coating that corrupts the point she’s trying to make about Senator Cruz changing stances on certain issues… allegedly. That’s another issue that recurs in the piece: a lack of citation, which puts the onus on the reader to validate her facts. Instead of presenting her case in a clean and precise manner, she clouds issues that she may very well have had a point about.

On that note, the article’s subject changes dramatically. Instead of delving deeper into the reasons the reader should think twice about Senator Cruz, the author almost inexplicably detours into a five paragraph sub-article on how her perspective on Marco Rubio has also changed over time, ending up with a very positive outlook:

“So, my love of Rubio grew. Not only was he trying, he was listening. I was in the wrong to judge without research. I had fallen for a conservative media driven narrative. Now I’d say that 95% of the time we’re on the same page, and the 5% of the time that we’re not is of little importance. I don’t want to support someone who I agree with all the time, that’s never what I was looking for, and I’m pretty sure that unicorn doesn’t exist. I want someone who challenges me to think beyond my own personal wants and desires. I like that he knows exactly what he believes, and he doesn’t budge. He may back off a little, grow in his opinions, soften his delivery, etc., but he’s consistent and honest about those changes.”

The above excerpt does not sound like it should come from an article with the title “I’m Not Supporting Ted Cruz: The Post I Never Wanted to Write”. It sounds like it should be from an article with the title “How I Came Around On Marco Rubio”. Not only does it seem completely out of place in the article, but it also makes the reader second guess the author’s motives. It brings up questions about previous points that the reader might have accepted as true – up until they discovered the Marco Rubio Infomercial in the middle of what they expected to be an exposé on Ted Cruz.

The abrupt detour through her Rubio flip eventually rounds its way into a discussion of principles:

“I was under the assumption that Cruz was a man of principle. I thought he would stand for what was right, and I thought that he would tell the brutal truth to his following no matter the cost. I was convinced that he was a rare breed in the political world. Now I’m scorned….

…So, let’s get this straight: Ted Cruz is not a dumb man. Ted Cruz is well aware that Donald Trump is the furthest thing from a conservative. Ted Cruz knows for a fact that Donald Trump stands for socialist policies, liberal ideals, and a dangerous agenda. Being honest to you about that is not as important to him as gaining votes from the Lord of Darkness. That’s just the facts. He’s betrayed every conservative tribe except the Comanche faction. He’s no longer vying for conservative votes, he’s pandering to the GOP’s “Obama” voters. He’s too much of a wimp to tell you that, though.”

Again, the tone the author takes hinders the case she’s trying to make.
Collision brings up Cruz’s lax attitude on Donald Trump’s borderline liberal antics (Which, again, you’d hope she would cite, it’s not like there’s a shortage of them.) as reason for Ted supporters to reexamine Ted’s tactics.  However, her criticism that Cruz hasn’t done enough to condemn Trump as a harmful charlatan is trapped behind antagonistic words like “betrayed”, “pandering”, and “wimp”; words that effectively stop up the ears of the very people who we assume she would like to reach.

She moves then from principles to “strategy”, citing her past experiences with Cruz supporters who excused his tolerance of Trump as a calculated move, centered around the idea that this reticence is central to Cruz’s strategy – to deny the media the GOP Battle Royale they so desperately to want to orchestrate. The author then tries to debunk this claim by saying that, in fact, Ted Cruz is a repeat violator of Reagan’s 11th commandment, presenting a litany of Cruz’s (again, uncited) attacks on Marco Rubio.

“Also, I get the “not going to war” with each other thing, but there is such a thing as staying true to what you believe.

And maybe don’t call the Trojan horse of the race “terrific.”

And maybe if he doesn’t want to go full patriot on Trump’s charlatan soul, at least he could treat him as he treats Rubio.”

In the above paragraph, Collision doesn’t appear to be concerned about the violation the Reagan rule as much as she desires Cruz to attack Trump the same way he’s attacked her candidate of choice, Marco Rubio. This desire is further fleshed out in the last paragraph of the article which calls into question Cruz’s bona fides as a principled “Man of Action”.

“A man of action would stand up for the conservative principles he claims to love, and stand in opposition to the one man in this primary election who is beating those conservative principles with such commitment and brutality that I feel like I need to give those principles the number to an abuse shelter.”

You can’t question the author’s passion, but her word choices and inability to put herself into the shoes of her target audience makes this final paragraph a microcosm of the piece as a whole: angry, betrayed, snarky, and seeking catharsis. In some respects you can understand how she arrived at those feelings, but at the same time it is incredibly clear that the prevalence of those emotions in the piece have drained it of any persuasiveness it might have had, and traded it in for tribal signalling and invitations to infighting. And that is disappointing.

If we cannot present calm, measured cases to our allies about why we prefer one candidate or dislike another, then how do we expect to persuade and influence people outside of our conservative team?

Hopefully this piece has shown that there’s a way to disagree with a fellow conservative without discounting their good intentions, and that offering constructive criticism is more helpful than shouting “RINO!”.  And finally, thank you to Collision for inspiring us to think harder about how we discuss our ideas and differences of opinions with the broader conservative team… this piece evolved from a less-than-helpful comment that was almost posted to your blog, but turned into an opportunity for self-reflection and improving our ability to message.