Demagogue Ted Cruz Launches 2016 Run, Compares Himself to Patrick Henry
It was all-too-predictable that Sen. Ted Cruz, the rhetorical bomb-throwing Texas senator, would throw the first bomb into the crowded field of 2016’s GOP presidential contenders by being first to officially announce his run on Monday.
Equally predictable was Cruz’s platform: a mix of longtime evangelical demands that government get right with God, tough talk about abolishing federal agencies and programs long-targeted by right wingers, and a libertarian pledges espousing the need for more freedom in America.
“I want to talk to you this morning about reigniting the promise of America: 240 years ago on this very day, a 38-year-old lawyer named Patrick Henry stood up just a hundred miles from here in Richmond, Virginia,” Cruz said in his announcement speech at the evangelical Christian school, Liberty University, comparing himself to the Revolutionary War hero who proclaimed “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Liberty, as would-be president Cruz explained, means abolishing Obamacare (which celebrated its fifth anniversary this week, with 16 million Americans gaining health coverage), sealing U.S. borders, elevating religious freedom under the First Amendment (to allow discrimination against LBGT individuals), ending Common Core national public school standards, ending gun controls, denying climate change, more oil and gas drilling, repealing all kinds of regulations on business, and making federal government as anti-abortion and anti-same sex marriage as possible.
This agenda is not aimed at mainstream America. It is aimed at the slice of early Republican Party caucus goers and primary voters who temporarily elevated ideologues in previous presidential years, such as ex-Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum who beat Mitt Romney in Iowa in 2012. It’s also Cruz's attempt to stand out in a GOP field dominated on the far right by preachers (Ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee) or preacher’s sons (Wisc. Gov. Scott Walker), including Cruz himself.
Cruz is the Joseph McCarthy of our time: a Republican U.S. senator whose aggressive rhetoric and actions have held slices of America hostage until he lost credibility. It was Cruz, you may remember, who fillibustered Obamacare for 21 hours and even read the Dr. Suess book, Green Eggs and Ham, into the congressional record. He’s more than angered other Republicans by pushing the House in September 2011 to shut down the federal government for several weeks in a fight about reauthorizing federal debt.
These kinds of antics may play well in right-wing circles where some may still think that Timothy McVeigh had a legitmate grudge, even if he went too far in blowing up the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people. But to win any major party’s presidential nomination, a candidate has to have their party’s establishment behind them. That person is not Ted Cruz.
So what is he doing besides building a national donor base for his own senate re-election in 2018? He’s primarily jockeying with Scott Walker for the title of the Republican most willing to pick unnecessary fights as a way to elevate a very well known right wing agenda. Beyond reminding evangelicals that he is one of them, he’s also standing with libertarians like the oil and gas billionaire Koch brothers, who do not want to see any lessening of America’s reliance on carbon fuel—regardless of global climate change.
The emerging fight over who's the toughest Republican is likely to remind voters about another Texas cowboy president: George W. Bush, who led the nation into a disastrous war of choice in Iraq.
There is a great benefit for all Americans to see what Cruz and the other Republican extremists who want to be president are all about—when there is not much else happening on the Democratic side. These GOP candidates will seek to outdo each other to win the support of merely tens of thousands of voters in 2016’s earliest contests. That’s how close those races margins can be.
In doing so, they will be showing Americans the true face of Republican extremism. Of couse, whoever starts accumulating national convention delegates in 2016 will then try to back away from the draconian pronouncements that we’re about to hear. Just like Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu said, after winning a fourth term, that he didn’t mean he’d be forever opposed to a Palestinian state. Right.
“From the dawn of this country, at every stage America has enjoyed God’s providential blessing,” Cruz told his Liberty University audience. “Over and over again, when we face impossible odds, the American people rose to the challenge. You know, compared to that, repealing Obamacare and abolishing the IRS ain’t all that tough.”
If there’s one thing we can count on Cruz doing, it’s not staying silent. The GOP’s 2016 field may turn into a circular firing squad sooner than we expected, now that the political bomb-thower has entered the ring.