2016 Presidential Race

Ted Cruz, Libertarianism, and the Republican Veepstakes

Since I have made a career out of being libertarianism’s best frenemy, permit me to extend the heresy and humbly suggest a most Machiavellian of schemes.

Rand Paul will not be the Republican nominee no matter how many articles some sites publish to the contrary. That leaves the friends of liberty with Ted Cruz as the least bad option. Assuming that this is true, Rand Paul will also not be the vice president. He offers no significant electoral or strategic advantage for Cruz who needs to bring along the establishment, Latinos, women, and independents. He also needs to turn a couple of purple states red just to make the electoral math work.

Being a Cuban-American and non-Spanish speaker, nominating Cruz offers little advantage in terms of peeling off a sufficient number of Latinos to capture swing states such as Virginia, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. Hispanic voters of Mexican, Central and South American descent have little cultural identification with Caribbean-Americans and Cubans in particular.  Cuban-Americans already vote overwhelmingly for Republicans. While that helps in Florida, it does little to move the dial elsewhere.

It is the worst kept secret in politics that Hillary Clinton will tap HUD secretary and former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro as her VP nominee. This gives Clinton a huge advantage in capturing Mexican and Central-American voters.

The establishment doesn’t like or trust Cruz, but they loath Donald Trump. Many have already indicated that they will settle for Cruz if it is the only way to stop Trump. They still pray for Rubio or Bush to pull it out of the fire, but those odds look increasingly long.

Independents also have serious misgivings about Cruz. They are culturally moderate, are less informed by religion in terms of political preference and more inclined to conciliation than bombast. No one would describe Cruz as having soft edges.

Additionally, Republicans face a historic gender gap. Running against the first viable female presidential contender will, at least at the margins, make this gap even worse for Ted Cruz or any potential nominee.

Finally, president is an executive position. As a first term senator and former solicitor general, Cruz has no executive experience. This is another disadvantage running against Hillary Clinton who not only matches him in legislative experience as a former senator, she has also run a White House staff and the State Department. Therefore, the ideal running mate will come from an executive position, ideally a governor or former governor.

Taking all of these factors into consideration, the best chance to blunt the Democrats advantage and capturing the White House would be for Cruz to pick a moderate, female, Spanish-speaking Latina governor from a swing state.

Luckily for him, the GOP has one of these. Given every consideration in play, Ted Cruz, or any Republican nominee, will be committing political malpractice if they pick anyone for their running mate other than New Mexico governor Susanna Martinez. Not only does she fill all of the strategic needs I have described, she won re-election in 2014 with 57% in a Democrat-leaning purple state.

While no libertarian would consider her ideologically ideal, when it comes to the presidential politics of 2016, she is straight out of central casting. Since my embarrassing decision to vote for George Bush in 2000, I have abstained from voting for president. I would break that streak for Cruz/Martinez.

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