While most people were watching the season premiere of Game of Thrones on Sunday night, the presidential election was playing its own game. You could almost hear journalists typing away at the news of the developing alliance between Republican presidential candidates Senator Ted Cruz and Governor John Kasich to stop Donald Trump.
In this election full of surprises, this unprecedented, publicized move to block the front-runner should come as no surprise at all. In fact, some wonder why this didn’t happen earlier.
This agreement is designed to wage a war of attrition on Trump: Kasich will step out of the way in Indiana, and Cruz has agreed to step aside in New Mexico and Oregon. Essentially, they will eat away at the remaining delegates to keep Trump from getting the 1,237 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention in July.
Naturally, Trump has come out swinging against “Lyin’ Ted” and Kasich, citing collusion. Trump released a statement claiming that “it is sad that two grown politicians have to collude against one person who has only been a politician for ten months.” I struggle to see how this is supposed to be a convincing argument, but then again, Trump would remind us that he has a good brain. It must just be me.
It is not collusion, as each candidate is operating within the electoral rules. But even if it’s not illegal, is it smart?
There are a few reasons why it may not be. Strategic voting is difficult to implement this late in the game. Early voting also factors into this, as it did in the Arizona primary: Kasich received fewer votes than Marco Rubio, even though Rubio had dropped out of the race before the day of the primary. Another issue is the overlap between Kasich’s voters and Cruz’s voters: there isn’t one. Kasich is the archetypal establishment Republican, against whom Cruz has been railing since he got into the Senate. They sit on the opposite ends of the party.
Yet, the two have come together to defend whatever is left of the Republican party. It may be conservatism’s last, best hope. There are some who really believe it will work.
I remain cynical, as this planned seemed to fold like a cheap suit within the first twenty-four hours. By Monday, Kasich said at a campaign event in Philadelphia that voters in Indiana “ought to vote for me,” even if he would not be campaigning publicly in the state. (He didn’t “see this as any big deal,” though, so he sure seems committed.) With nine primaries left, we will have to wait to see how this “alliance” plays out.
Grab your popcorn, America, you’re in for quite a show.