Charisma Caucus

A Raucous Caucus: Part 1

Immigration Protesters
Immigration is a key issue in the 2016 elections, and an Iowa pastor sheds some light on what he's learned about a few of the candidates' views. (Reuters photo)

I have spent this political season approaching things differently than in past years. Each cycle I am humbled by a string of candidates who want me to endorse them over and above their rivals, with the expectation that I will use my "important influence" (their words, not mine) to turn out votes for them during the first in the nation Iowa Caucus. This time around, I have been much more curious to see whether my influence was strong enough to simply move individual candidates out of what I have perceived to be their respective weaknesses. This has been a fascinating experiment, and I must say that I have not been very impressed with my own "important influence." In fact, I'm so unimpressed with my "important influence" that I have decided not to endorse anyone for president this cycle.  

While I did carefully vet the extra jumbo Republican field and publicly winnowed out 13 candidates I did not believe passed minimum muster to deserve further scrutiny (based upon my infamous "5 Steps" cartoon series), after meeting with the presidential finalists in intimate settings, discussing compliments and critiques, I chose to step back and leave my ballot to be cast in the reasonable privacy of my own caucus location now a few days away.  

I have nothing further to disclose and offer you, no hidden agendas or conspiracies to savor. I'm not necessarily plunking against your new hero. I've never been compensated with anything other than epithets and grief for sharing my thoughts during a campaign season, and I'm probably not your enemy (even if you need me to be so that you can excuse yourself from accepting what I'm about to share).

After a great deal of frustration trying to navigate the comments of Rep. Steve King (who endorsed and defended Rep. Cruz's positions on illegal immigration), and having seen both sides of the arguments in defense of and opposed to Sen. Ted Cruz's candidacy to become president of the United States, I have reached conclusions I am inclined to share.  

It's a shame you have to give yourself a headache trying to get to the truth of a matter because of obfuscation, but that's what I have been through trying to figure out the whackings between Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump that took place again this week with Donald's boycott of the final debate before Iowans vote and the previous debate that took place two weeks ago (Jan. 14, 2016) during their televised Fox Business debate. Before I pull you into the morass with me in an effort to show you what I've found, let me do things in reverse as an attempt to make the rest of your read less complicated. Here are five points that would normally serve as final conclusions, but for some reason I feel compelled to begin with:

  1. Marco Rubio is profoundly terrible when it comes to mishandling the enormous problem of immigration in the United States.
  2. Ted Cruz is much better than Marco Rubio when it comes to offering solutions to the problem of immigration in the United States.
  3. Ted Cruz has shown his own flaws in his approach to the issue of immigration in the United States.
  4. For all his bluster and hyperbole on the issue, Donald Trump isn't nearly as good on the issue of illegal immigration as so many of you apparently believe he is.
  5. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump all say H1B Visas should be increased, and by agreeing on this particular issue, they share the same superbly puzzling defect. 

I will not invest much more effort discussing Marco Rubio in this article. He is simply the worst on this issue of anyone running for office in the Republican Party since the Communist Governor of California (Democrat Jerry Brown) found a clever way to allow illegal aliens to vote in California elections this past year.  

Meanwhile, despite Cruz's own deficiencies on this subject (we will discuss further in a moment), he did at some point participate in something very good for the United States. While it is not easy to identify what actually was or was not a "poison pill" when carefully reviewing a chronological timeline of opposition research emanating from several independent sources (some things now called "poison pills" were not called "poison pills" a few years ago), one thing remains absolutely certain: Marco Rubio's "Gang of 8" fiasco failed! Whether or not the good guys "poisoned" it, surely true conservatives agree that it was definitely poisoned by its original creators. It put America's future in jeopardy. The villains of our American story—architects of what has been called "scamnesty"—hoped to increase registrations in the Democratic Party, you see. They failed. For whatever role Ted Cruz played in that defeat, I wish to publicly say thanks. More important than thanking Ted Cruz and his friends, I join with the hymn writer and say, "Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!"

Along these lines, while I'm happy for candidates to garner endorsements of other great American conservatives, when it comes to substance of issues and principles I absolutely do not care who has or has not endorsed Ted Cruz (or any other candidate for that matter). Bringing that up is not an answer to the following important questions. Please stick to answering these very rhetorical questions in the privacy of your own mind without evasively telling yourself (or me) that Rep. Steve King of Iowa—a stalwart figure in the illegal immigration struggle—endorsed Ted Cruz.

Surely we agree that endorsements, however flattering they may truly be, cannot change reality. Along similar lines, squeezing one's eyes shut while flipping a nickel into the fountain downtown won't make your lottery numbers rewrite themselves on your printed ticket for the big win, and presidential elections made under the weight of existential threats shouldn't be treated like wishing wells. We must deal with more than emotions and personal loyalties on the coming night of the Iowa Caucus and primaries galore to follow. We must deal with facts.

Here's a question we need to answer:

When Ted Cruz offered a series of what are now being called "poison pills" into the horrible "Gang of 8" bill, did Ted believe his particular amendment (which increased H1B Visas by 500%) was so fantastically good for America that Democrats would vote it down?

Or Did Ted believe increasing H1B visas by 500 percent was such a terribly bad idea that it would cause Republicans to vote it down?

Which is it? We are not nearly as interested in the perceptions of either party who viewed his "poison pills" as we ought to be in what Ted Cruz truly believed about increasing H1B visas by 500 percent at the time he proposed it.

Here's my frustration with the answer. Cruz has implicitly suggested "yes" to both of the questions I just raised, which makes his responses puzzling at best. It simply cannot be both. This is a legitimate either/or dichotomy. Increasing H1B visas is either good for America or it is bad for America.  

Which is it, folks?

Never mind what your would-be rulers are telling you while the paparazzi chase them around Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Let us set aside the sophistry of Rubio, Trump and Cruz for a moment. You pick a side. Please. Then go hold your favorite candidate accountable to your decision on this matter and tell him to do what actually makes sense for our nation, or else you'll find a candidate who better represents the right way forward on it. (If the Rubio, Trump and Cruz trio copied the immigration proposal and rationale of Rick Santorum, America would be better off in the days ahead.)

I realize some may be blushing and thinking to themselves, "What on earth are H1B visas anyway?" Well, think of them as a legal means of allowing particular "qualified" immigrants into the country to work high paying jobs. Why do businesses want H1B visas granted for their job openings? Once you truthfully answer that question, you'll understand why Americans who have been laid off and replaced by immigrants are so angry. (The immigrants are willing to work for much less pay in exchange for access to American life.) Increasing H1B visas makes it legal to nourish an existing problem (as opposed to nourishing a solution) already overachieved by illegal immigration.  

Here's what I mean: illegal immigration primarily takes away low-paying jobs while increasing H1B visas primarily takes away high-paying jobs. One legally nourishes a problem hurting America. One illegally nourishes a problem hurting America. I am against both scenarios because I am thoroughly consistent. Outside of candidates trying to avoid being called unflattering names for taking this position, which I obviously believe is the correct position in the best interest of our citizenry, none of the three candidates (Trump, Cruz and Rubio) promoting this particular idea make a lot of sense when you look at the issue very closely. You can dress that up as being "savvy" if it makes you feel better about them, but I don't think you're being honest with yourself if you do. For example, what do you do when you've already eaten way too much? Well, for Heaven's sake, you should not eat more! And may I add that by refusing to eat more, it would be senseless to accuse the bloated man of being "anti-food" or "nutrition-o-phobic."

This is essentially what the antagonists do in dishonest custom. If one advocates what is best for America, one is branded a "racist," "anti-immigrant" or "xenophobic." What is truth? Well, here's some truth: these name-calling antagonists are America's enemies in the gates.

Rev. Cary K. Gordon is senior pastor at Cornerstone World Outreach in Sioux City, Iowa.

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