Cruz is the Proven Conservative
January 25, 2016
When Ted Cruz was a junior U.S. senator he attended a closed luncheon and was shocked to hear senate majority leader Mitch McConnell push a plan that would allow GOP senators to vote in secret to raise the national debt thus shielding them from blame. Cruz was appalled. He’d won his seat promising he’d fight any debt increases – as had many of the senators around him nodding with McConnell. When he protested, he was shouted down. What’s wrong with you, they cursed. “That’s what you say to folks back home. You don’t actually do it.”
He refused to go along and its one of the reasons he’s hated so by many senators in his own party. He didn’t back down when they threatened but his political future was instantly in jeopardy. You buck the bosses and they withhold needed election money and saddle you with bad assignments.
Cruz’s protest is in his book, A Time For Truth. It’s an example of Cruz walking the walk he pledged, not just talking it as so many politicians do once elected and comfortable in Washington. They abandon their principles. Cruz has not.
Now however, contesting Donald Trump for the lead in the Republican contest for president, he’s again under attack. He’s not eligible to run, say opponents. He didn’t report loan information on all his forms. He’s hated in Washington and therefore can’t make a deal. That last criticism is by Trump, the supreme deal maker.
But what underlies that charge is one of the reasons Cruz is rising. The base, supporters of both Trump and Cruz, don’t like the deal-making in Washington. It always favors the Democrats. Conservatives get screwed. Trump better think about this in using this criticism on Cruz. It could backfire – as several other of his recent attacks have backfired.
During the GOP debate last week, Trump jumped on Cruz for mentioning Trump’s “New York values.” At first it seemed a big Cruz mistake. New Yorkers were slurred, a win for Trump. Clearly pleased, he smiled, folded his arms in that strident Mussolini like pose. But Republicans in New York cheered Cruz. And then we learned Cruz got the phrase from Trump himself; i.e., Trump had unwittingly supplied Cruz with the retort. In a 1999 interview on Meet The Press he explained to Tim Russert that his pro-choice and pro-gay marriage views were the result of “living in New York City all my life.” He wasn’t brought up in “Iowa,” he said.
Voila: “New York values” - not that there’s anything wrong with such values, of course. But they’re not typically conservative, which is an increasing knock on Trump. They’re more likely liberal views. And Trump also gave money to Hillary Clinton and likes imminent domain, the taking of property for civic gain, neither of which is typically conservative. So is Donald Trump a conservative? In the immortal words of Tom Brokaw to Charlie Rose, we don’t really know, do we? But given that he’s never held office, we do know he’s untested – at least as an actual politician. For all his red, white and blue bluster, finger to political correctness, and tough guy talk – all of which I love - he has no working politician record. He’s never, like Cruz, put it all out there to be chopped off. He’s done it in business, but not as a political leader in Washington.
Cruz has demonstrated his conservative bonefides often since challenging McConnell at that senate luncheon. The one I remember most was his backing of a government shutdown when almost all in Washington considered (and still do) such a shutdown catastrophe, a phony notion since essential services continue and even delayed government salaries eventually get paid. Shutting the government down to save money, cut the national debt, and stop funding of bad programs is a core conservative action. Cruz was just living up to his principles and doing a good thing, according to conservatives.
Now, as Trump and Cruz grapple for Iowa, the first GOP caucus – which will be significant in the race, perhaps a game changer – Cruz has again showed his guts and adherence to conservative principle. Even though he’s courting Iowans, he’s come out against ethanol subsidies which are important to Iowa voters. Ethanol fuel, made from corn husks there, is a boon to Iowa. Its subsidy helps companies and workers in the Hawkeye state. Cruz is not anti-energy as Iowa’s governor has falsely charged. He’s anti subsidy. He doesn’t believe the government should fund any private enterprise. That’s corporate welfare. Such funding should be through the private sector.
How many politicians do you see actually going against something that the voters they court covet? It’s a courageous and principled stance. He could lose because of it.
Trump however backs the subsidies. He courts evangelicals by citing “Two” Corinthians rather than the nearly universally used “Second” Corinthians. He’s a Presbyterian, he says, but the use of “two” calls into question his sincerity. Anyone familiar with the passage would use “Second.” It’s similar to Obama’s incorrect pronouncement of “corpsmen” early in his presidency. It signaled unfamiliarity and ultimately disdain for the military.
Sarah Palin has endorsed Trump. It is a surprising decision given her background with the Tea Party and conservative politics. Has she made a deal to be vice president? It will be interesting to hear her justifications. But if there’s any doubt about who is the tested conservative, it has to be about Trump. Cruz has proven himself the most conservative many times over. That will become very important after the election when decisions like who will replace vacated seats on the Supreme Court are made. If the chooser isn’t a principled conservative, the nation most likely continues its Leftist slide.
Robert K. Wilcox is an author, journalist and historian whose latest book is Target: Patton: The Plot to Assassinate Gen. George S. Patton.
Visit Robert K. Wilcox's web site at http://www.robertkwilcox.com