The bothersome clarity of Senator Ted Cruz
WASHINGTON, December 16, 2014 — As an unapologetic Tea Partier, an unreformed right-winger, I resent being lumped into the same column with the moral and intellectual geldings of the establishment GOP. Many of my fellow Republicans are either too lazy – or intellectually dishonest – to differentiate a conservative from a Republican. Sometimes, depending on the individual, the two are one and the same. Most of the time, unfortunately, the two are mutually exclusive.
Take GOP House Speaker John Boehner… please.
The recent budget battle added clarity to the political war being fought in America. And that war is raging on the fringes of our civil society. While John Boehner – the poster child for the GOP’s gooey, marshmallowy majority – worked with the White House to pass a measure funding the federal government through September, GOP Senator Ted Cruz put forward a “point of order” measure that forced his Senate Republicans to vote on the constitutionality of President Obama’s executive action on amnesty for millions of illegal aliens.
“It allows Republicans to… show they are committed to ending Obama’s amnesty once and for all in the next Congress,” Cruz told the press. “If we agree it is indeed unconstitutional, we have no business funding it when the GOP controls Congress.”
Nearly half the Senate’s Republicans joined Harry Reid’s Democrats to defeat Cruz’s measure and eventually pass Boehner and Obama’s $1.1 trillion Obamacare-amnesty-funding omnibus budget, which included incoming GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
But Cruz accomplished something very important in Washington’s confused, upside-down world: Clarity.
“Criticism of Cruz usually centers on this type of grandstanding at the expense of colleagues. But he also has a propensity to vote no on every piece of major legislation that involves any compromise for the hard right,” wrote Jennifer Rubin, who the Washington Post passes off as the reasoned voice of “conservatism” – the Boehner-McConnell, forever-compromising, branch of conservatism.
Cruz’s “grandstanding at the expense of colleagues” proves that a majority of congressional Republicans are more likely to support the policies of Barack Obama than those of, say, Ronald Reagan.
Cruz gets under the skin of the GOP leadership and the media because with one procedural stroke, he obliterates the fiction that the GOP is a “conservative” party.
“His [Cruz’s] idea of conservatism is standing with [the conservative base of the GOP], making a statement, rather than, I think the conventional idea is, doing something,” said Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer. “Now, there was no way in which the objection he raised over the weekend was going to do anything, anything at all, to stop the president’s executive order.”
Krauthammer completely misses the point. Forcing people to take a stand exposes: a) what they really believe; or b) what their political contributors have paid them to believe.
The result is clarity.
John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Jennifer Rubin and Charles Krauthammer hate clarity. It separates the wheat from the chaff, the feeble fake from the genuine article. Cruz proved that establishment Republicans are a new breed of conservative, one more interested in conserving the dangerous status quo than the freedom of the individual against the unconstitutional expansion of state power.
On the far left, meanwhile, Democratic Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is a rising star among the totalitarian base of her party. “No Democrat speaks as passionately and as effectively about issues related to income inequality, lack of functional governance, and the declining American middle class as Warren does,” wrote Scott Conroy at Real Clear Politics. “And during a campaign season [midterm elections] in which Democrats had little to get excited about, her fist-pumping, high-decibel, populist harangues got crowds fired up wherever she went.”
Warren’s full-throated opposition to the omnibus budget nearly led to a government shutdown. She apposed the GOP rider eliminating a provision of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law prohibiting banks from investing in risky derivatives with guaranteed taxpayer bail-outs should their investments tank.
Warren also distanced herself from President Obama by criticizing his nomination of Wall Street banker Antonio Weiss to become the administration’s Under Secretary for Domestic Finance.
“The over-representation of Wall Street banks in senior government positions sends a bad message,” said Warren. “It tells people that one – and only one – point of view will dominate economic policymaking. It tells people that whatever goes wrong in this economy, the Wall Street banks will be protected first… Sure, big banks are important, but running this economy for American families is a lot more important.”
Warren undercuts her own argument by admitting that it’s the government, not a free people, “running this economy.” It was a democratically-controlled Congress that created the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to purchase mortgages underwritten by the banks, which operate under the sway of that other government-sponsored enterprise – the Federal Reserve.
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It was a Democratic Congress that enacted legislation forcing government-regulated banks to issue sub-prime loans to bad credit risks. Subprime lending, at its essence, was a fast-track income redistribution scheme. The government geniuses “running this economy” assumed that real estate values would never fall. That fast-rising home equity would raise the net worth of subprime borrowers.
Warren’s protestations to the contrary, the geniuses “running this economy,” a.k.a., the government, had no choice but to bail-out banks that were effectively nationalized in 2008 by the government geniuses “running this economy.”
Warren’s brand of “populism” is bipartisan and got us in the mess we find ourselves today. If Warren’s populism continues at its current pace, income equality will resemble that of Cuba, where misery is a commodity shared by all.
President Obama, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and Elizabeth Warren are unified by one ideal: that government must be the lash-wielding master of American civil society. Their only quibble is over who gets to crack the whip, who gets to be the “policymaker.”
The Tea Party unsettles Democrats, Republicans and non-committed Independents because they challenge the comfortable but dangerous fantasies of the status quo.
Tea Party favorite Senator Ted Cruz continually undermines the fiction that there exists a functioning GOP opposition to American decline. He underscores the need for the Tea Party to double its efforts to transform the Republican Party into a principled organization dedicated to the restoration of the American Republic.
“The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion,” said Edmund Burke.
So, thank you Senator Ted Cruz for providing much needed clarity.