A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Let’s Talk About Ted: What People Aren’t Admitting About Ted Cruz

The U.S. has been so obsessed with a particular racist Oompa-Loompa running for the Republican candidacy that we haven’t paid enough attention to the even more threatening Ted Cruz. This election has allowed the Kevin Malone look-alike to do the impossible: convince America that he’s a moderate candidate.

Cruz presenting himself as a moderate is ridiculous because not only has he devoted his Senate career to being a radical, anti-establishment conservative, but he himself hates moderate Republicans. In an interview with The New Yorker in 2014, Cruz condemned moderates, claiming, “…what does the entire D.C. Republican consulting class say? ‘In 2016, we need another establishment moderate!’ Hasn’t worked in four decades.” Cruz has always worked to be seen as an extreme, right wing Republican. Now, with the 2016 election being unlike any before it, Donald Trump has redefined what it means to be a Republican fringe candidate. In comparison to America’s favorite orange-faced businessman, Cruz seems even-tempered and reasonable. He has embraced this newly moderate image because he knows it might be his best chance at the nomination. But after peeling back the layers, Ted Cruz is just as irrational as Donald Trump.

When Cruz first announced he was running, many Republican politicians liked the idea of a Cruz presidency as much as Cruz’s daughter wanted to kiss her own father on the campaign trail. The majority of Republican leaders hate Cruz. They don’t hate him because of his views, his voting record, or his spine-tingling laugh. They hate him for his blatant self-aggrandizement. Take it from Josh Holmes, former Chief of Staff for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “It’s not what he’s trying to accomplish or what he says he’s trying to accomplish that bothers people. It’s that he’s consistently sacrificed the mutual goals of many for his personal enhancement.” In 2013, Cruz pushed Tea Party Republicans to edit the year’s spending bill and include a piece repealing Obamacare. He knew it wouldn’t get by a Democratic-majority Senate, but he did so anyway. This resulted in the infamous 2013 government shutdown, which lasted more than two weeks and trashed the GOP’s image. Regardless of how it made the party look, Cruz solidified his radical reputation and garnered more support from Tea Party voters than ever before.

Ted CruzHowever, with no other hope to end Trump’s reign of xenophobia and misogyny, the same Republican establishment that despises Cruz has been pushed to support him. John McCain, who once called him a “wacko bird”, recently told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, “I have to put aside my anger in some cases and work with him in every possible way that I can.” South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham is quoted saying, “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, no one would convict you.” Graham appeared on the Daily Show in March and giggled over footage of himself roasting Cruz in the past. He compared picking between Trump and Cruz to picking between being shot in the face and drinking poison, saying that in Cruz’s case, at least, “there might be an antidote.” Not only did this make clear Graham’s distaste for Cruz, but it secured him the position of official clapback queen for the Republican Party. Yet Graham has officially endorsed Cruz’s campagn and told CNN that he plans to start fundraising for Cruz as well. Cruz has managed to force his enemies onto his side by virtue of the fact that he doesn’t appear as deranged as Trump and his short fingers.
Cruz’s plan for peace in the Middle East is not a far cry from Trump’s idea to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. Cruz’s newly-formed team of foreign policy advisors is made up of known criminals, Islamophobes, and conspiracy theorists. Picture your one sketchy, kinda racist uncle that gets really drunk on Christmas Eve and rants about “the Muslims.” Now, imagine if that same uncle (and 22 other people just like him) were in charge of U.S. foreign policy. You’ve got yourself a pretty accurate description of Cruz’s “Coalition for Nation Security.” One of them, Elliott Abrams, confessed to lying to Congress about the Iran/Contra scandal under the Reagan administration. Another, Michael Ledeen, believes that “every 10 years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall.” The cherry on top of this train wreck of a sundae is Frank Gaffney, who believes the Muslim Brotherhood is secretly trying to infiltrate America. He also thinks that Saddam Hussein organized the Oklahoma City bombing and that Obama’s campaign logo was a sly indication of his “submission to sharia.” If that doesn’t scream racist, drunk uncle to you, then I don’t know what does. If Cruz becomes president, he and his squad of right-wing lunatics will be in charge of the U.S. military in the Middle East. Even Donald Trump’s plan to “consult himself” on foreign policy seems like a better alternative.

It’s time for the Republican Party to draw the line. I understand the importance of keeping Trump out of office, but politicians shouldn’t be abandoning their core moral and political beliefs to do so. The conflict between anti-establishment candidates and traditional conservatives is coming to a breaking point, and as politicians are forced to stand behind candidates that go against their every belief, they diminish the integrity of the GOP and devalue the party as a whole. Political decisions shouldn’t be about keeping a wispy-haired fool out of the White House, it should be about voting for a candidate who represents what you believe in.