Talk about a scary Halloween. We're fearing little goblins with Ted Cruz masks, demanding all the Candy or else, the "trick" being they will stay at our doorstep forever, blocking our exit until we relent. Other non-Cruz goblins better watch out too, once the Cruz clan congregates.
Until now, I've been silent on the subject of Ted Cruz. He burst on the political scene as did Sarah Palin, but Palin was clearly a hopeless lightweight who was "hired" to play a role. She is a reality TV star, and that's about it. But Cruz is very different, and I've been trying to make some sense of him, his views, and where he might be going.
He is perhaps the most disturbing politician I've witnessed firsthand (only vaguely remembering Joseph McCarthy from my childhood). I thought Barry Goldwater was dangerous, but unlike Ted Cruz I don't remember him threatening to hold the US Government hostage. Cruz's intransigent political views, with no compromise possible, is menacing enough. He is clearly an exceedingly ambitious politician who has all the requisite American-as-apple-pie views and the mannerisms of a preacher, attributes that appeal to his Tea Party / Christian Right followers. (His recent hunting outing was amusing, perhaps not as well staged as Sarah-got-her-gun trained from a helicopter for moose in Alaska; he was in Iowa, the first stop for the Primary. And he looks oh so manly with a gun. Check out the pix here.) Furthermore, Cruz is well educated and one can only assume that his behavior is being carefully choreographed to achieve the objective of running for the Presidency of the United States.
His call to shut down the government and have the US default on its debts is a form of economic terrorism, i.e. the "threatened use of force [in this case, legislative force]...by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons." (The Free Dictionary) Or at least the rubric of demagogue might apply -- "a political leader in a democracy who appeals to the emotions, fears, prejudices, and ignorance of the less-educated citizens in order to gain power and promote political motives. Demagogues usually oppose deliberation and advocate immediate, violent action to address a national crisis; they accuse moderate and thoughtful opponents of weakness." (Wikipedia)
I can't help but think of Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here, depicting the rise of a Senator "Buzz Windrip" to the Presidency, a campaign built on the back of patriotism and traditional "American values" promising economic reform, and after election appoints his own personal army ("The Minutemen" -- perhaps the NRA would apply for the job?), curtails minority rights, institutes kangaroo courts to do his dictatorial biding, while also limiting the power of the United States Congress.
No, I don't believe that is what would happen if the unthinkable occurs, Ted Cruz being elected President, but he has mainly used his Senatorial seat as a bully pulpit for his Tea Party views, so his political ambition seems to know no bounds. And I also can't help but think of this very loose paraphrase of a quote (sometimes attributed to Sinclair Lewis, but no one is sure) -- if some form of dictatorship ever comes to America, it will be with a cross wrapped in an American flag. (Whatever happened to the concept of the separation of Church and State?)
One would hope that moderates in the Republican Party can put down this radical, take-all-or-else faction. John G. Taft, who rightly calls himself "a genetic Republican" made the brilliant case for reigning in the likes of Ted Cruz in his Op-Ed column in the October 22 NYT. He expresses my concerns exactly.
Here are some bullet point quotes from the article....
* If he [Senator Robert Alphonso Taft, his grandfather] were alive today, I can assure you he wouldn’t even recognize the modern Republican Party, which has repeatedly brought the United States of America to the edge of a fiscal cliff — seemingly with every intention of pushing us off the edge.
* Throughout my family’s more than 170-year legacy of public service, Republicans have represented the voice of fiscal conservatism. Republicans have been the adults in the room. Yet somehow the current generation of party activists has managed to do what no previous Republicans have been able to do — position the Democratic Party as the agents of fiscal responsibility.
* Speaking through the night, Senator Ted Cruz, with heavy-lidded, sleep-deprived eyes, conveyed not the libertarian element in Republican philosophy that advocates for smaller government and less intrusion into the personal lives of citizens, but a new, virulent strain of empty nihilism: “blow it up if we can’t get what we want.”
* This recent display of bomb-throwing obstructionism by Republicans in Congress evokes another painful, historically embarrassing chapter in the Republican Party — that of Senator Joseph McCarthy.....There is more than a passing similarity between Joseph McCarthy and Ted Cruz, between McCarthyism and the Tea Party movement.
* Watching the Republican Party use the full faith and credit of the United States to try to roll back Obamacare, watching its members threaten not to raise the debt limit — which Warren Buffett rightly called a “political weapon of mass destruction” — to repeal a tax on medical devices, I so wanted to ask a similar question: “Have you no sense of responsibility? At long last, have you left no sense of responsibility?” [A paraphrase of what was asked of Senator McCarthy.]
So, we now wait until February 7, the next "deadline" for the debt ceiling (it's becoming a Yo-Yo economy with all these kaleidoscopic, Armageddon-like cut-off dates). It will be fascinating (or perhaps even more frightening) to watch Senator Cruz's machinations as that fateful day approaches.