If voters feel like the 2016 election is the last election to save the American experiment, Ted Cruz really is their only option. If voters feel like things are coming to an end in this country without drastic action, they really do not have a choice between Rubio and Cruz. They have only Cruz. Cruz is the disruptive candidate. A voter who feels like the end is near without drastic action has to take the gamble on Cruz, who still has a good chance to win.
Rubio, on the other hand, is the candidate for voters who think the best days are still ahead of us regardless of what happens in 2016. Democrats may fear Rubio as a candidate, but the base of the Democratic Party does not fear him like Ted Cruz. They think they could wait out Marco Rubio, even after eight years in power, and see few of their advances surrendered.
Washington’s lobbyists think that Marco Rubio will not be a disruptive force to them. They know Washington will still be mostly the center of people’s lives to a a greater degree with Marco Rubio than with Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz will burn Washington to the ground and throw lobbyists on the street. Marco Rubio will strategically raze parts of Washington, putting fewer lobbyists in danger than Cruz. At least that is the thinking and it is the thinking that is reflected in the attacks on both men.
For critics of Cruz, he cannot win. The reality is that Cruz can win, but if he wins those lobbyists and politicians attacking him will be out of a job. The Washington elite have every incentive to stop Cruz because he absolutely would be transformational, though his path to victory may be harder than Rubio’s.
For critics of Rubio, he will not go far enough. The reality is that Rubio may have an easier time winning, but his critics do not believe he will go far enough and do as much to fix the problems in Washington.
Cruz and Rubio would both be conservative to varying degrees. What is at stake between the two is how easy their election would be and how transformational their Presidency would be. Rubio backers are looking at the path to the White House. Cruz backers are willing to take a gamble on the slog of a general election campaign so they can see Washington rent asunder.
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