By Evan Scollard
I’ve written often about this newspaper’s need to emphasize campus issues in our opinion editorials, but I believe some national issues deserve commentary in publications of any size. Though Trump may seem like the obvious target here, I’d rather discuss the man who’s enjoyed his shadow—Ted Cruz.
Cloaked in misguided Christian morality, the Texas Senator continues to demonstrate the extremism that hinders the Republican party, but escapes the scrutiny that Trump disproportionately receives. Make no mistake—had Trump not run, Cruz would have been the demagogue and the madman.
His Princeton education and distinguished clerkship mislead voters to a sense of assurance. But his commitment to archaic moral convictions undermines his qualifications for any elected position in government. He champions the last few ridiculous beliefs that shackle the GOP to a bygone era of social oppression—opposition to women’s rights, environmental protection, and gay marriage. Cruz entrenches himself in unreasonable positions on these social issues, appealing only to a base of voters that would never turn away from the party and simultaneously scaring away every undecided voter with a room temperature IQ.
He fancies himself a political archetype in the likeness of Reagan, but makes his name with cheap, public stunts like filibustering his own bill rather than with a commitment to innovative policy construction. Though they unilaterally dismiss Obama’s administration as ineffectual, Republicans should at least realize the bold legislative steps that the President has taken in accordance with his political vision. Cruz’s political career, however, has focused on antagonism and vocal criticism of Democratic policy, without bringing anything significant to the floor himself.
Of course, I worry that Trump will take the nomination, but I fear most that Cruz will. While Trump’s bombastic rhetoric ensures that he’ll get very little passed through Congress, Cruz’s more reasonable language might give those same legislative efforts a better chance of passing. He will spread the message that the elephants have killed themselves with obsolete conventionalism during a time of progression. When Republicans insist on lecturing the educated masses on the perils of homosexuality and the ethical quandaries of abortion, they alienate independent voters and undermine the platform as a whole. How can a candidate defend a respectable stance on foreign or economic policy minutes after unabashedly denouncing a woman’s right to her own body? The answer rests on a fundamental tenet of his campaign philosophy; Cruz has correctly realized that logical and consistent rhetoric delivered with decorum typically goes unnoticed, whereas rabble–rousing attracts immediate attention.
Cruz is following Trump’s lead, just more moderately. By removing the nuance and complexity from controversial issues, Cruz reduces these to straw-men that he can knock down in an act of political extremism that discourages compromise. In essence, he commits himself to simplified ideals that can be easily endorsed but are unrealistic and no longer in vogue.
He stands in front of the cameras and outlines his platform as a series of ultimatums, demanding unwavering support for Israel, the abolishing of gay marriage, and bombing enemy combatants “back into the Stone Age.” Normally, this would garner mostly negative attention. Small voting pockets would appreciate his defense of Christianity and hard–lined approach to military intervention, while everyone else would dismiss him as sophomoric.
The spectre of a Trump administration makes Cruz suddenly palatable. He’s refrained from the Twitter wars and toned down his rhetoric away from overt racism, so we dissuade ourselves into believing that he’s a moderate. However, he’s only put Trump’s stances into more articulate terms. If we allow Cruz onto a ticket, we signal the same message as we would with a Trump nomination. All of our more moderate voters will understand that the GOP hold fast to those vestiges of anachronism and refuses the social progression that our generation demands.
By Evan Scollard