A 42-year-old man with less than 9 months on the job as a Junior Senator from Texas is shaping the message of the Republican Party and accumulating a dangerous amount of power. His name is Ted Cruz.
This summer, Cruz embarked on a nationwide tour sponsored by The Heritage Foundation to promote an effort to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare. He’s poised to filibuster the bill next Tuesday which will force a government shutdown, leaving many employees including the Marines, unpaid, until Congress reconvenes and figures out how to pass it. Ted Cruz has become a celebrity, a rock star really, inside a branch, a lone, outlying, sad branch, of the GOP that includes such luminaries as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Fox News. But before you think that Ted Cruz is Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, he’s really more Joe McCarthy.
In the past two years, since Ted Cruz announced his Senate candidacy, the phrase “Tea Party Intellectual” has described the Princeton undergrad, Harvard Law degreed attorney. His college professor, famed jurist, Alan Dershowitz, calls Cruz “off the charts brilliant”. The right wing thinks it’s found its intelligent guy to counter media claims that their other stars – Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, Michele Bachman, are grade A morons. The problem is, not only has Cruz not shown any of the smarts that argued 9 cases before the Supreme Court, he’s been really dumb. Alternating between taking down Marco Rubio and any other moderate Republican who dared to compromise with Obama on immigration reform and calling Obamacare “Armageddon for the United States”, Cruz has basked in sudden power and adulation.
In 1995, the post grunge era’s Ted Cruz was Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. He was a right wing bomb thrower who disparaged President Bill Clinton and defeated First lady Hillary Clinton’s attempt to change health care. In a fight over the balance budget amendment, Gingrich and his Republican Revolution colleagues shut down the government in late 1995 and early 1996. It proved disastrous for Gingrich’s career and cost the GOP Congressional seats in 1996 and 1998, ultimately helping Bill Clinton become more popular, survive the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and leave office with a 65 percent approval rating. The difference between Gingrich and Cruz is Gingrich had support. Republicans are running from Cruz like he has the measles and an Obamacare drug card.
Barack Obama’s current approval rating is around 48 percent. After a bad summer with foreign policy and the whirlwind right wing smear campaign against his Obamacare baby, you’d think Republicans would let the President’s Administration keep digging its hole. Do these folks watch House of Cards on Netflix or catch reruns of The West Wing? I guess not. Instead of using the checks and balances system of government – elections – to correct Obama errors, they’d rather hurt everyone else to make a point. This sets up an egomaniacal Ted Cruz like a 5-year-old with a good tee ball swing. Unless Cruz’s big brain is playing games with us all, then assume the shutdown happens October 1. All of you “Washington blows this will be a good thing because I heard Rush Limbaugh say it Ted Cruz is a Patriot I’ll be okay” people, take heed.
* Get your passport today. After that, forget it. No trip to Bloody Ole England. Are you planning a vacation to Yellowstone or Mt. Rushmore? Not doable.
* You work for Uncle Sam? Cool, you’re on indefinite vacation. Don’t tell your friends and family. They’ll hate you. Fake being sick and try to blame Obamacare, for irony purposes.
* Don’t worry about needing the military. They’re awesome. They work regardless of the gigantic Ted Cruz douchbaggery. But they’ll be paid on IOUs, or not at all, in the case of the Marines, until government comes back. If you do need feds in uniform, be nice. Not getting paid sucks and they’ll be moody with guns.
* Those new drugs needed for mental illness, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, and other incurable but treatable diseases? The grants to the FDA and other agencies will be down. Irony plays again, as trying to defund Obamacare means less research and hard to get meds needed to survive and live.
* Here’s some good news, unless you love guns. Those weapon permits? They’re not happening anytime soon. I like silver linings and more irony.
* Hope you don’t live in Washington D.C. or anywhere else where the trash pickup is government regulated. Pee and yew.
* America will look stupid, greedy, and petty. And over 60 percent of the population will blame Republicans.
You’d think I’d cheer for all this. No. It’s bad for the country.
There are other options for Republicans against Obamacare. If they let it go into law, they can get state opt out provisions passed through legislation. Many Democrats support this idea. They can also get the President to delay Obamacare’s implementation through 2015, meaning they can gain seats in both houses of Congress in 2014 to defund Obamacare later. Obamacare will happen. Even Rand Paul, last year’s right wing rock star, has moderated his position, saying that a filibuster and shutdown is a “terrible idea”. Would it be cool to watch the GOP implode in a Civil War that’ll eventually see Hillary Clinton elected President in 2016. Yes. But it doesn’t have to happen in a way that hurts America. Ted Cruz isn’t about the little guy. He’s about Ted Cruz. He feels cheated out of a 2006 Bush Administration appointment and he’s getting cheap pops from a cheap crowd, the extreme right Obama haters.
Obamacare isn’t the cure all for a broken health care system. Its cost is astronomical and the exemptions for certain groups raises red flags. But it provides health care for every child in the country and an estimated 35 million who are uninsured. It closes the gap between the haves and have nots. This is what Cruz is fighting against.
By ignoring the political system in Washington, which requires bi-partisanism, thus alienating his GOP colleagues, and shutting down government for a point he may not even believe in 100 percent, Ted Cruz’s showing himself to be everything he says he hates; an arrogant Washington demagogue.
Lance Burson is a writer living outside Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and three daughters. He’s the published author of two books, The Ballad of Helene Troy and Soul To Body, found digitally on amazon.com/kindle and in paperback from Lulu.com. His favorite political movie is The Seduction of Joe Tynan.