Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series covering why each and every candidate for president in 2016 is an awful human being who should not for the love of God be elected to any position of responsibility ever.
If he had any charm, Sen. Ted Cruz would be unstoppable. In spite of his strangely dislikable manner, the Canadian-American-Hispanic who may or may not be eligible to be president (the Constitution is vague, the courts have never ruled) is now topping his first national poll. If he doesn’t make it to the White House, the first-term senator still has put up an impressive showing and will most assuredly be back in 2020.
Many libertarians thought they had an ally in Cruz when he ran for and won his Senate seat in 2012. Perhaps he would be on Sen. Rand Paul’s team of being better than average, if still frustrating at times. But Cruz has picked another, more winning team. That team is occasionally the Christian right, sometimes the neocons and their ilk; generally just the status quo. Now and again he throws a bone to the leave-me-alone crowd who once thought he might be their friend, but mostly that just makes his message all the more unclear.
Cruz went to Harvard Law School, and like any good lawyer he knows how to argue every possible side of an issue. Even when those issues are his own policy opinions. The senator considers himself proud to be one of Sen. John McCain’s “wacko birds” who do not fit in with the rest of Congress. He thinks all of his coworkers hating him means he is clashing heroically against D.C. insiders (like, hmm, senators?) However, Cruz is being assimilated into the entrenched power Borg at a brisk pace.
Cruz has moved on to a better place. Or rather, a more powerful one (an impressive feat for a man with such a middle management face.)
Whether he changed on an issue or was always awful on it, there are countless reasons he would make a terrible, awful, no-good Commander-in-Chief.
As a nearly imperceptible nod to the fact that gay people won, Cruz has said (privately) that he would not exert a lot of time on trying to undo last year’s Obergefell v. Hodges, which federalized same sex marriage rights. However, Cruz has been working hard at his pandering to Christians. He won the Iowa Caucus, after all, and precipitated that with comments about how the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling was “fundamentally illegitimate, lawless, and unconstitutional” and the states should not enforce it. Another aspect of Cruz’s Iowa express was having Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson come and stump for him. Robertson is known for saying the kind of insulting things about gays that even a mainstream conservative in 2016 is not supposed to say. He’s the proxy homophobe every social con needs, if only to win Iowa.
WARNING: CANNOT BE UNWATCHED
Cruz has other “traditionalist” backers, including the National Organization for Marriage and a couple of yahoos named Vander Plaats who dislike gays and want to rid the world of porn (good luck with that). The Canadian senator is also happy to jump on one of the sexiest fears of the moment, which is the horror of trans people using their preferred bathrooms. There, Cruz goes full-on “won’t someone please think of the children.”
Less predictably, Cruz has happily played both sides of the criminal justice reform debate. He started off more on Rand Paul’s team of criminal justice reform and even co-sponsored the 2015 Smarter Sentencing bill. Now he seems to be back-pedaling intensely about the issue, perhaps because it’s so bipartisan-friendly now, perhaps because Barack Obama has actually been moving to pardon various offenders or retroactively reduce sentences (as in the case of the crack cocaine/powder cocaine discrepancy.)
If Cruz is going to be retro-anti-gay, why not also go back to pre-2014 and worry over too many criminals escaping from prison? He’s still not as bad as every single person in government besides outliers like Dennis Kucinich or Ron Paul were up until ten minutes ago when everyone was patting themselves on the back for being tough on crime, but Cruz clearly isn’t terribly committed to reforming prisons and cops if that involves working in an icky, bipartisan way.
And on immigration, Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio endlessly squabble about who was for amnesty when and who is more committed to building up the border now. Much funnier is when they argue about this in español, as in the Florida GOP debate.
Cruz has definitely hardened up on the issue and has gone from being for high-skilled workers coming to basically halting immigration. He was already an outlier on the issue in his early Senate days (waaaaay back in 2013). But with Donald Trump leading the xenophobia charge, Cruz has to make sure the people know he’s opposed to immigrants as much as the next man who wasn’t born in America.
This is another area in which Cruz began much more libertarian and then began sneaking over to the hawk side of the fence. Nobody should be sympathetic towards ISIS, but saying you will “carpet-bomb them into oblivion” until we see “if sand can glow in the dark” is hawk pulpit-pounding in the worst way. Realistically, carpet-bombing causes massive numbers of civilian casualties (to say nothing of the fact that ISIS exists greatly because of previous U.S. intervention.)
When the U.S. sailors were briefly detained by Iran some weeks ago, Cruz also basically suggested if he were president, a bombing would be the correct response. He echoed this outrage over sailors “on their knees” in a South Carolina speech.
Mostly Cruz just wants to name Islamic Terror as the TRUE ENEMY the way Obama supposedly won’t and to bomb a lot but without ground troops. He’s not really angry enough to charm the neocons via grand nation-building plans, but he’s even more sad-sack and middling-aggressive than Rand Paul was on his most sellout days. He has recently discovered the fun talking point about how the military budget is too small; the Pentagon too weak, bureaucratic and gluten-free. This is going to get mighty cheers from all the right ring-wingers.
On the issue of the U.S. spying on itself, Cruz remains mixed. He supported the so-so USA Freedom Act, which re-upped PATRIOT but with some reforms. The National Security Agency (NSA) still gets to spy, and probably can find a work-around to USA Freedom’s restrictions, but supposedly it tied one of their hands at least. For a crumb of credit, it’s good to mention that Cruz has said he wants the NSA to focus on terrorists, not Americans. However, he has yet to clarify exactly how much spying he will tolerate on B to go after A.
The headline-making privacy question today is whether the feds can force Apple to decrypt the iPhone belonging to the deceased San Bernardino terrorists. At a Republican town hall Cruz said Apple should help out and that the search order is lawful. He said concerns are one thing, but privacy and security are not in conflict the way most people say they are. He says this, but he doesn’t trust the company that made the phone when it says it would have to write a whole new program to get the phone data and that that would subsequently endanger the privacy of millions of Apple customers. Cruz’s nods to privacy would feel nicer if he trusted the companies that know how to make their own products to do just that.
It was either Ted Cruz’s campaign, or very enthusiastic Ted Cruz fans, who offered up a Photoshop of Sen. Marco Rubio and President Obama shaking hands.
Regardless, this controversy is as boring as that time Cruz said Ben Carson was dropping out of the race but totally wasn’t. Riveting stuff. Cruz also has the backing of this apocalyptic fucker.
Duck Dynasty. Nobody except Duck Dynasty-based celebrities support Ted Cruz.
If you want someone who talks good on freedom and then begins selling out before his first congressional term is half over, Cruz is a good choice. He’s almost Reagan-esque in his desire to dump garbage on his small government belief and go full social-con pandering. Or as his campaign motto puts it, Cruz is all about “Reigniting the Promise of America.” America does like to promise. It promises you staunch individualism. It says the government will leave you alone, and then it adds right below the asterisk – unless you do drugs, want an abortion or decided to come to America without the proper papers. That sounds like a nation ready to be led by Ted Cruz.