Ted Cruz’s victory speech on Monday night in Iowa was the speech conservatives have been waiting for since the days of Ronald Reagan.
Cruz, after receiving more votes than any Republican candidate has ever received in the Iowa caucus, affirmed every fundamental principle conservatives cherish and did so without apology, retreat, or nuance. He used his first two sentences, for example, to thank God for his victory and call for God’s blessing to rest upon the people of Iowa.
He affirmed the bedrock American principle that our fundamental civil rights are a gift to us from God, not government. Conservatives have waited a long time for a viable presidential candidate who is as open and vocal as Cruz is about his faith in Christ.
Cruz has not confined his message about the importance of Christian faith and “the Judeo-Christian values that built this great nation” to the friendly confines of Iowa. He has taken that message right into New Hampshire and injected it into his campaign appearances there. It’s not pandering on his part. It’s who he is. It’s in his DNA.
That raises, by the way, a fundamental concern conservatives ought to have about Donald Trump. He wants to make America great again, but does not seem to understand what made America great in the first place. Cruz does.
Cruz stressed that he would fight for the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage, and religious liberty. I don’t think anybody on either side of the aisle doubts him. That’s why the GOP establishment and the left is panicked by the thought of a Cruz presidency. To use Cruz’s words, it’s why he “terrifies D.C.” If conservatives are looking for a fighter on matters of fundamental moral importance, they won’t have to look far. He is the only candidate, for instance, who has pledged that, as president, he will investigate and prosecute Planned Parenthood after defunding them.
Cruz vigorously asserted that it’s time to trim the federal government back to its constitutional limits. He reaffirmed his dedication to repealing the monstrosity that is ObamaCare, and pledged to end amnesty, secure the southern border, and end sanctuary cities. He renewed his pledge to protect the right to keep and bear arms. In his own words, he pledged to “drive the liberal elite and the Washington cartel into the Potomac and out to sea, never to be seen again.” This should be music to everyone’s ears, including the blue collar workers who form the core of Donald Trump’s base.
He avowed again his support for Israel, support which has been tenuous at best under this administration. There is no doubt whatsoever that Israel will have a true friend in a President Cruz. He identified our enemy as “radical Islamic terrorism” and promised to unshackle our military from the irrational rules of engagement that have tied their hands behind their backs, so that they can neutralize every military threat the United States faces.
He pledged his support to those in law enforcement who have been demeaned and demonized relentlessly by the community agitators who run this current administration.
Donald Trump, stung by his defeat in Iowa, is back on the stump again, full of increased invective, profanity and character assassination. After blaming voters for his loss in Iowa (yes, Donald, that’s how things work) he emerged from 15 hours of Tweetless silence to unleash a fresh wave of carpet-bombing rhetoric on Twitter and on the trail, using language not fit for family consumption.
The contrast for voters, especially social conservatives, could not be more stark. Cruz has refused, when personally attacked by Trump, to respond in kind. He will not return evil for evil or insult for insult. Unlike his spiritually-challenged adversary, he knows the difference between a communion tray and an offering plate.
Evangelicals made the difference in Iowa. A full 64% of all Republican caucus-goers were of the evangelical persuasion. The 50% jump in caucus attendance (from a then-record 120,000 in 2012 to 185,000 Monday) was likely due to increased evangelical turnout.
If that trend continues throughout the primary season and general election season, there is reason for social conservatives to be optimistic about our future as a nation.
Cruz’s victory illustrates an underappreciated political fact: evangelicals exist in sufficient numbers to determine the outcome of every election at every level everywhere in the United States, including the selection of our next president. May they recognize their power and use it wisely.