The crazy Texas senate race could be a preview of the 2020 Presidential contest. Notably, a few pundits are predicting U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and his challenger; U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso), will face each other in the next presidential battle.
Therefore, America could repeat something that has not happened since before the Civil War. To explain, in 1858 the eyes of the nation were on the Illinois U.S. Senate contest.
The race pitted former Congressman Abraham Lincoln (R-Springfield) against U.S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas (D-Illinois). Dramatically, the two faced each other again in the 1860 U.S. Presidential election.
Is History repeating itself in the Texas Senate Race?
There are some interesting parallels between Texas 2018 and Illinois 1858. For example, one candidate; leftist O’Rourke, represents the radical rising tide. Moreover, his opponent; conservative bad boy Cruz, represents the increasingly unpopular old order.
To clarify, back in 1858 average people widely viewed Douglas as a puppet of the Southern Slave Power. Correspondingly, many modern Americans view conservatives; like Cruz, as shills for the corporate plutocracy or 1%.
In 1858, for example, many Americans; particularly northerners, felt the government was the puppet of the Slave Power. That drove them to back the radical Republican Party and vote for unknowns like Lincoln.
Does the Texas Senate Race mean it is 1858 all over again?
Another similarity between 1858 and 2018 is a widely despised, unpopular, and incompetent president. In 1858, northerners viewed President James Buchanan (D-Pennsylvania) as an incompetent fool and a puppet of the slaveocracy.
Pointedly, President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) had a 52.6% disapproval rating in all polls on 14 October 2018, FiveThirtyEight calculates. Furthermore, Buchanan; like Trump was a compromise candidate. To explain the party establishment accepted Trump only because they could find nobody else.
Like Trump, Buchanan, was an outsider. To explain, Democrats nominated Buchanan because he had spent several years outside the country, as ambassador to Great Britain. Correspondingly, Trump won the 2016 Republican primary largely because he was not part of the establishment.
Therefore, Buchanan avoided round after round of sleazy; and unpopular, deal making over slavery that was going on in Washington in the 1850s. Likewise, Trump was a political outsider who spent the 48 years before running in real estate, entertainment, and reality TV rather than politics.
An interesting difference between Trump and Buchanan is that the Donald has a rabid following among a segment of the population. Buchanan had no real political following. Only history will tell if Trump’s rock star status can overcome his unpopularity.
Notably, past political rock stars; like U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater (R-Arizona) and U.S. Senator George McGovern (D-South Dakota), failed dramatically in presidential races. Cult-like followings enabled Goldwater and McGovern to capture the party, but lose the big race.
Will History Repeat itself in the Texas Senate Race?
If history repeats itself, O’Rourke will lose the Senate race but win the presidency.
Frighteningly, that seems to be happening. For instance, on 14 October 2018 Cruz was leading by 7%, the RealClearPolitics average of polls reveals. Additionally some recent polls like; The New York Times /Siena and the Quinnipiac, have Cruz doing better with an 8% or 9% lead.
Moreover, O’Rourke is accumulating a massive war chest. In particular, O’Rourke raised $38.1 million in 3rd Quarter 2018, The Dallas Morning News reports. Correspondingly, O’Rourke could have as much as $61.2 million in the bank.
O’Rourke could have money to fund a presidential bid. More importantly, Beto has the infrastructure in place to finance a presidential run.
Texas Senate Race is a 2020 Preview
Specifically, Cruz himself believes O’Rourke is testing the waters for a 2020 presidential bid. For instance on 13 October 2018, Cruz told reporters he thinks O’Rourke’s war chest is for 2020 not 2018.
Conversely, Cruz is also testing the presidential waters. For example, an October 13, 2018, Cruz rally in El Paso looked and sounded like a Trump presidential circus. In particular, Cruz supporters wore “Make America Great Again Hats” and the Senator touched on hot-button issues like immigration, The Dallas Morning News reports.
Remember, Cruz himself is no stranger to presidential politics. He fared well against Trump in the 2016 Republican primary.
The final ingredient needed for 2020 as 1860 will be for Trump to drop out of the presidential race. Since the Donald himself has been silent about reelection, that is a strong possibility.
Why the Texas Senate Race is Important
Whether he wins or loses, O’Rourke has made an important breakthrough that will transform American politics.
Beto has changed campaign finance by raising vast amounts of cash from small donors. In detail, O’Rourke collected donations from 802,836 individuals in three months, The Dallas Morning News claims. This is a game changer because it makes O’Rourke an independent candidate, who is free to ignore the party establishment.
Like Trump, O’Rourke is free to run on popular issues the establishment hates. For example, O’Rourke is an unspoken champion of single-payer healthcare. Therefore, O’Rourke is free to go as far left as necessary to win votes. That gives him an edge mushy moderates cannot overcome.
Moreover, it increases the amount of money in politics and the power and influence of big money donors. To explain, Cruz has to go begging to the Koch Brothers every other day to stay in the race. What happens to Ted when the Koch Brothers tire of dumping their money in his campaign?
The money could give O’Rourke an edge in the Presidential contest. Particularly, O’Rourke will be a far easier sale nationwide where voters are more liberal than in Texas.
Hopefully, history will not totally repeat itself. Lincoln’s victory in the 1860 Presidential election sparked the Civil War.
Interestingly, after the election Douglas emerged as a staunch unionist. For example, Douglas advised his friend Abe to raise an army of several hundred thousand men to crush his former allies in the Slave Power. I wonder what side Cruz will take in the final battle of the culture wars.