Cruz/Carly: When Hope Becomes Delusion

511

When you really contemplate the psychology of it, you begin to understand what Ted Cruz is thinking.

Four months ago, the Republican field was wide open. 17 candidates – so many that the cable networks had to divide the debate stage in two. Three of the contenders had little or nothing to do with politics. Others had about as much shot of becoming the nominee as they did of becoming heavyweight champion of the world. And out of this sea of Republicans, Cruz nabbed the first victory. He brought down Iowa and was, for exactly one week, the only candidate with any checks in the Win column.

The Iowa victory didn’t exactly launch Cruz on a tear of dominance, of course, but he held his own. While once-strong candidates like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio fell to the wayside, Cruz hung in there. The public grew bored with the novelty of Ben Carson, but Cruz kept rolling. And with every passing day, the ultimate Washington maverick inched closer to a most unlikely position: The establishment’s last, best hope of stopping Donald Trump.

You don’t have to pore through history books to see how difficult it is to let go of this dream. Just look at John Kasich. This is a man who was won only one state – his own – and yet still seems to believe that he will be the nominee. Kasich’s delusion is extreme, but it’s instructive. Once you begin to sense even the slightest glimmer of possibility that you could actually be the president of the United States…well, that is a tough illusion to let go of. Bernie Sanders can attest.

But we’re heading into the realm of ridiculousness.

If Cruz thinks he can force a contested convention and take the nomination on the second ballot, he’s certainly welcome to try. But there’s a difference between staying in the race and pretending like you are actually going to be the nominee. And by naming Carly Fiorina as his running mate, Cruz has moved from fight into fantasy.

“A majority of Republican voters don’t want Donald Trump to be their nominee,” Fiorina said Wednesday.

Okay. So what do you call the portion of Republican voters who don’t want Ted Cruz to be their nominee? A supermajority? This myth that the Republican electorate has always been divided between “Trump” and “Not Trump” is no longer viable. If it was, Trump’s winning streak would have come to an end the moment Marco Rubio dropped out of the race. Instead, as evidenced by the last six primaries, his base of support is only growing. For many of these so-called “Not Trump” voters, Trump was the second choice.

By remaining in the race beyond the point of mathematical elimination, Cruz is risking his career on a doomed strategy. For one of the Senate’s few true conservatives to blow this much political capital on a fantasy is quite sad.