The Impact of the South Carolina Primary

Yesterday, I was in the car with my youngest son, the budding political pundit. We were discussing the fallout of the latest Republican primary in South Carolina. Surprisingly, he is a Ted Cruz guy also. I don’t know where he got that from.

He, like me, doesn’t understand the results in South Carolina with Trump winning overwhelmingly, Rubio taking second, just eking out Ted Cruz who dropped to third place. But he’s a kid and is looking for answers. Whatever the reason, he seems to think I have them all, at least as far as politics goes. Again, I don’t know what gave him that idea.

The conversation began with Donald Trump of course. He said that he couldn’t understand why so many people were voting for Trump. He remembered me making a loose correlation between Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler, but couldn’t remember what it was all about. I told him that I certainly didn’t think that if Donald Trump was elected he would become the next Hitler and America would be turned into the next Third Reich.

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No, I explained that it was both Hitler’s and Trump’s cult of personality that people are drawn to – that Hitler was really a combination of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump – you know – but without the whole mass extermination thing.

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Hitler came to power after the collapse of the post-World War I Weimar Republic. The country was in a deep depression and the morale and outlook of the people was at an all-time low. The German people were angry and frightened, looking for leadership whom they found in Adolf Hitler, with his soaring rhetoric and propaganda. He, like Sanders and Trump, promised the world to the German people.

He, again like Sanders and Trump, was short on specifics and long on grandiose ideas to make Germany great again. He promised an end to unemployment, a return to law and order – nationalized healthcare and education. It wasn’t until Hitler had cemented power that things went dark. Still people willingly, gleefully voted him in with landslide after landslide victory.

Satisfied with that, although not happy, we turned our attention to Jeb Bush. He guessed correctly that virtually all Bush’s support would now be thrown to Marco Rubio putting Ted Cruz potentially in jeopardy – that Bush’s 5 to 10% would go a long way to keeping Rubio firmly in second place behind Trump. That may leave Cruz as the odd man out.

I reminded him that if Kasich goes next, his supporters will also back Rubio giving him another several percentage points over Cruz. Rubio has obviously become the default position for the establishment Republicans. It appears they are becoming very comfortable with Rubio as the moderate pick. This is also concerning, although not quite as much as if Trump gets the nomination. What may end up happening, what conservatives fear, is that Rubio continues his strong showing behind Trump, firmly in second place and this may go all the way to the convention. If this happens, and we end up with a brokered convention, Rubio with the full backing and shenanigans of the establishment Republicans, may be able to pull this off. Then we have to worry about a Third-party Trump.

Then it was on to Ben Carson. He told me he couldn’t understand why Carson was still in the race, as he had no shot of winning. I explained my theory.

I said it was one of two things, or a combination of both. Carson says he is going on despite his low poll numbers and miserable showing thus far. He believes his message of hope and common sense is such that he needs to continue and hopefully have an impact on the overall race. Of course it could be this, and I hope it is. My other theory is that Carson is still very upset about the misunderstanding in Iowa with the Ted Cruz campaign. I told my son that the Cruz campaign was perfectly right in what they did – basing their assertions about Carson dropping out from what appears to be in hindsight, purposeful misreporting by CNN.

It’s possible that Ben Carson still may think he had been wronged in Iowa and wishes to stay in to spite Cruz. Everyone agrees that if Carson drops out all his support will fall automatically to Cruz, not Trump. I hope this is not Carson’s motivation, but it’s possible.

In any event, if one was to take anything out of South Carolina, it is that Ted Cruz may be a little bit of trouble. If one was to look at the electoral map of South Carolina, you’ll see that Trump even one the heavily religious northern part of the state. Cruz had to win these districts to be competitive, but somehow Trump pulled this off also. That is a mystery to me. Far too many people are buying into Trump’s propaganda and angry bluster, and I told my son that he and I should be very worried.

We are not giving up – far from it, but in the end, I guess we’ll get what we deserve, one way or the other.

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