1. Some voters act as though supporting a candidate means defending everything they say and do. I notice that some Cruz supporters excuse everything he every said or did, or unquestioningly accept his ex post facto explanations. That's very credulous.
Rational voters can separate out defending someone's candidacy from blanket support for whatever they say or do. It's possible to support someone's candidacy despite disagreement with one or more of their positions or policies.
Indeed, it's important to reserve the right to criticize positions/policies of a candidate you otherwise support. I don't issue any candidate a blank check.
For instance, I might support a candidate even though I disagree with some of his policies. That doesn't necessarily mean I give up those issues. If he becomes president, it's still possible to block those particular policies at a legislative or judicial level. It becomes a question of when and where to fight.
2. Some voters raise fake, frivolous objections to a rival candidate. This is where they are reaching for anything they can use against the rival candidate. These are not objections they consistently raise. If their favorite candidate did the same thing, they'd give him a pass. Or if it were a different election cycle, they might swap those out for different objections. For instance, opponents of Rubio complain about his missed votes. They say he's not doing the job he was paid to do. But there are several problems with that complaint:
i) There's more to the job of a legislator than showing up to vote. His job includes meeting with constituents. Serving on committees and subcommittees. Intercede with other gov't agencies on behalf of his constituents.
ii) Many votes are just symbolic votes. Unless his vote is required for passage of a bill, or for the bill to pass by a veto-proof majority, missing a vote is not intrinsically significant.
iii) Let's compare Rubio's missed votes to Cruz:
So Rubio misses votes 0.3% more often than Cruz. Clearly that's a frivolous objection.
3. Another phony issue is that he's too scripted in debates. But when you are limited to 30-60 second answers, you need to have compact, prepared answers to predictable questions.
4. A basic problem with raising phony objections is that it gives equal weight to frivolous objections and serious objections. But that's a way of saying serious issues don't matter. If you treat frivolous objections and serious objections equally, then you really don't care about the issues. You really don't care about ideology. But I do.
Here are some serious, substantive criticisms Rubio:
If you wish to find fault with Rubio, talk about something like that.
5. There are roughly two considerations:
i) Is Republican candidate A better or worse than Republican candidate B?
ii) Is Republican candidate A (B, C) better than the Democrat candidate?
You could have two Republican candidates who are both better than the Democrat; one Republican candidate is better than another, but the better candidate is less electable. So you have a twofold comparison; two considerations you need to balance: Which is worse? for the Democrat to win, or for a Republican to win, who's better than the Democrat, but worse than one (or more) of his Republican rivals (who have little chance of winning)?
I know some Christians bristle at those comparisons, but reality constrains our field of action. Suppose I said that if you wish to draw water from a well, you should use a bucket rather than a pasta strainer. Some Christians would respond by saying "That's pragmatic! That's worldly wisdom!"
6. Oftentimes, the debate is cast in terms of Cruz as the intrinsically better candidate, but we must settle for Rubio because Cruz is unelectable. An unfortunate, but necessary compromise. One problem I have with that way of framing the issue is that I not only have some genuine reservations about Rubio, but I have some genuine reservations about Cruz. I doubt he's quite the knight in shining armor that some of his supporters imagine him to be.
i) Take his position on SSM. In an interview, shortly after Obergefell, he said gov't officials should simply ignore the ruling:
I like that. But I can't help noticing that his initial reaction to Obergefell wasn't that hardline. Initially, he proposed a Constitutional amendment:
I have a default suspicion about Republicans who propose Constitutional amendments in the culture wars. I think that's often a decoy. It's a lengthy process that usually goes nowhere. So it's a proposal that doesn't cost the politician anything. A diversionary tactic creating the pretense that a politician has taken meaningful action, when it deflects attention away from meaningful action. Placating social conservatives with symbolism.
I'm also curious about the timing. Between his initial, weaker response, and his later, tougher response, Cruz's mentor, Robert George, came out with a public statement saying officials should disregard the ruling.
Right after that, Cruz came out with a public statement saying officials should disregard the ruling. Hmm. Is that just coincidental? Or was Cruz waiting to see how other conservative opinion makers-would respond, then struck a more confrontational rhetorical pose after they did? Is this putting a wet finger to the wind? Did he sense that his first response might be perceived as too weak?
But that's not all. The Lawrence decision laid the groundwork for Obergefell. If you wanted to oppose SSM, it would be more strategic to draw the battle lines sooner, before the homosexual lobby got so much momentum. And Cruz had an ideal opportunity to do so. The Lawrence decision involved a Texas anti-sodomy law, and Cruz was Texas attorney general at the time. He was uniquely positioned to right that battle. Yet he didn't get involved, and there's prima facie evidence that his inaction might be related to his courting gay donors.
7. Then there's his position on illegal immigration. There's prima facie evidence that he's shifted position for political expediency:
At one point Cruz proposed an amendment to legalize immigrants, but deny them citizenship, although he now claims that was a poison pill.
However, one can easily see legalization as part of a long-range strategy. If it's too controversial to begin with outright naturalization, you break it down into increments. You lead with legalization as a first step, to gain a foothold. Having achieved that, you then complain about how arbitrary and unfair it is for immigrants who are here legally to be denied a chance to become citizens.
8. Recently, Cruz opposed draft registration for women:
Although I agree with him on the merits, his statement misses the point. Liberals say women can do anything a man can do. So this is calling their bluff. Right now we have a double standard. This is a way of forcing liberals to be consistent–and make them pay a political price for consistency.
9. Finally, some conservatives seem to be schizophrenic about the value of an Ivy League education. They usually say political correctness has ruined the humanities at Ivy League institutions. Students are indoctrinated in sheer propaganda. Liberal ideology is at war with history and science. You'd get a much better education at a Christian college like Patrick Henry.
But then some of them drool over Cruz's Ivy League resume. That suggests a conservative inferiority complex. Is a candidate who attended Harvard and Princeton presumptively better than a candidate (Rubio) who attended a state college on a football scholarship?