February 3, 2016

GLANZEL | The End of the Beginning

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During the depths of the Second World War, the British army in North Africa secured a decisive victory over Nazi Germany in the Battle of El Alamein. In response to the victory, Winston Churchill delivered one of the most lyrical orations of the 20th century: “The Bright Gleam of Victory.” In this speech, Churchill uttered one of the most famous lines of the war: “Now is not the end.  It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”  As we emerge from the national variety show that was the Iowa caucuses, Churchill’s words echo loudly.

Monday night’s caucus represented the end product of months of campaigning, over $70 million in advertising and almost a dozen debates. As the politicos navigate the waters of a post-Iowa world, one can only come to the conclusion that Monday was the end of the beginning. Just as El Alamein was a decisive turning point for the Allies, so too was Iowa a turning point for the 2016 race. Iowa put the first serious dent into the Trump political machine, suffocated many of the candidates out of viability (Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina and Martin O’Malley), put several candidates in the endangered species category (Chris Christie, John Kasich and Jeb Bush) and established potentially vicious rivalries (Hillary vs. Bernie and Cruz vs. Trump vs. Rubio). Iowa was the first major turning point of the 2016 race, and thus the end of the beginning.

With just under 40 weeks until the election draws to a close, the race seems poised to be aggressive, nasty, expensive and long. With this in mind, I’d like to make a few comments on some of my fellow Republicans.

Marco Rubio: Throughout the campaign, Marco’s strategy has been ridiculed, mocked and lambasted. The youthful senator has played a risky strategy of not focusing on a single early voting state. Instead, Rubio has campaigned in each of the four early states (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada). Furthermore, Rubio has worked tirelessly to avoid peaking at the wrong moment. Instead of seizing on potential momentum, the Florida senator has aggressively worked to tamp down expectations and avoid the spotlight until the moment is right. Through harshly ridiculed, Rubio’s performance on Monday night showed that this strategy might just work. Though the senator only came in third place, it was a very close third place –– a virtual tie with Trump.

Now a great question looms over Rubio: can he consolidate enough establishment support to power him through New Hampshire and South Carolina? If Rubio is able to successfully steal a healthy amount of support from Kasich, Bush and Christie in Iowa, the senator could easily be competitive with Trump in New Hampshire. And if Rubio is able to secure a strong showing in the Granite State, the 44 year-old will be a very strong contender for the nomination.

Jeb! Bush: Jeb is the biggest loser in Iowa that no one is talking about. Of course the former Florida governor was never expected to do well in Iowa, but there was hope that the Bush political machine could bring down Rubio. Bush and Rubio occupy the same establishment circle –– and only one will be able to successfully harness the power of that circle. The Bush campaign hoped that a massive blitz of attack ads would sink the Rubio campaign. According to some estimates, the Bush campaign and its Super PAC spent over $10 million on ads attacking the Florida senator. Obviously, it backfired. Not only did the attack ads miserably fail to bring down Senator Rubio, the charismatic leader is now the clear favorite among establishment Republicans. In the end, Iowa cost Jeb a total of $14 million and depleted any possibility of regaining a foothold in the race to be the establishment favorite.  If Jeb wants to prevent Trump or Cruz from getting the nomination, he should abandon his hopeless race for the nomination and get behind Rubio. If not, Jeb will only be delaying the inevitable and will be hurting the chances of an establishment figure to secure the nomination.

Donald Trump: While some in the establishment would like to think Monday was Trump’s Waterloo, anyone who has been watching the past six months knows that Trump isn’t going anywhere.  Trump has faced adversity throughout the race, and Iowa has never been the business magnet’s stronghold.  However, New Hampshire will be critical for the Donald. If Trump is unable to pull a victory in the upcoming primary, he will certainly lose most of his credibly as a candidate. The entire premise of “Make America Great Again” is that Trump is a winner.  However, if Trump succumbs to the forces of Cruz or Rubio on Tuesday night, the real estate mogul will have lost any perception he holds of being a winner.

Overall, it is clear that Iowa has changed the game. A blitzkrieg of Trump through all of the early voting states has failed to come to fruition. Instead, the Republican party is locked in a grueling three-man match that will likely last months.  Truly, Monday night was only the end of the beginning of what will likely be a very long race.

Michael Glanzel is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at mg786@cornell.edu. Cornell Shrugged appears alternate Thursdays this semester. 

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