The religious right’s last stand: Ted Cruz

[Added 4/14/2016]  I think that of all the five current Democratic and Republican candidates, Ted Cruz would do the most harm if elected.  The reason is that he says what he means, and means what he says.  When he speaks of carpet-bombing and torture, it is not hyperbole.  He should be taken literally.

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz

The post-Reagan Republican Party has been supported by three pillars—(1) the so-called neo-conservatives who think there is a military solution to all problems, (2) the so-called neo-liberals, who think there is a corporate solution to all problems, and (3) the so-called religious right, who think there is a Biblical solution to all problems.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is a hard-line supporter of all three, but his championship of the religious right is what is most politically significant, both for him and for religious conservatives.

The reason is that the interests of military contractors and Wall Street bankers are well-represented in both parties, but fundamental Christian preachers are represented only in the Republican Party and, from their standpoint, not too well.   Unlike the military and high finance, they are not part of the so-called “deep state“.

Ted Cruz’s platform on his web site gives more information about the specifics of where he stands than that of any of the other candidates.  It shows that he has obviously given a lot of thought not just to what he believes, but how he would accomplish it.

That makes him a more formidable candidate than Donald Trump, who answers questions about policy as if he were thinking about the issues for the very first time.

I have respect Cruz as a intelligent and committed ideological warrior.  But adoption of his political program would mean perpetual quagmire war, upward redistribution of wealth and a vain and divisive attempt to enforce the morality of an earlier America.

Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, in 1970, the son of Rafael Beinvenido Cruz, a Cuban emigre, and his then wife, Eleanor Darragh Wilson, who had a business processing seismic data.  Both his father and mother had college degrees in mathematics.

Ted Cruz grew up in Texas and attended church schools, Faith West Academy in Katy, Texas, and Second Baptist High School in Houston.  He graduated with honors from Princeton University School of Public and International Affairs, where he was a champion debater, and also with honors from Harvard Law School, where he edited the Harvard Law Review.

He was a law clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist, among others.  As a lawyer in private practice, he helped prepare testimony for the Bill Clinton impeachment.

His wife, the former Heidi Nelson, had a similar combination of strong religious and academic background.  As a girl, she spent time in Kenya and Nigeria as the daughter of Seventh Day Adventist missionaries.   She earned a B.A. in economics and international relations from Claremont University, a Master of European Business degree from Solvey School of  Economics and Management in Brussels, and an M.B.A from Harvard Business School.

After they married in 2001, they both held positions in the George W. Bush administration.  Heidi Cruz was Western Hemisphere economic director for the National Security Council, and reported directly to Condoleeza Rice, and director of the Latin American office at the U.S. Treasury Department.

Ted Cruz was an associate deputy attorney general in the Department of Justice, and then director of policy planning for the Federal Trade Commission.   He left Washington in 2003 to become Solicitor General of Texas—in effect, the main lawyer for the state of Texas.  Attorney-General Bob Abbott recruited him specifically to champion conservative causes, such as the death penalty in the courts.

His wife Heidi meanwhile pursued a career in finance with JB Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, where she is now Southwest regional manager for Goldman Sachs’ Investment Management Division in Houston.

I mention Cruz’s elite credentials so that nobody who reads this web log mistakes him for an anti-establishment populist.   Although many of his fellow Senators dislike him, he is plugged in very well in both Washington and Wall Street.

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After some time in private practice, Cruz was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012 in an upset victory over Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst.

He was a leading figure in the 2013 government shutdown.  He gave a 21-hour speech in an attempt to hold up the federal budget bill and thereby prevent funding of the Affordable Care Act.

He is one of President Obama’s most extreme critics.  He said President Obama’s criticism of police in killings of unarmed persons has resulted in increase in crime and killings of police officers.  When three people were killed in an attack on Planned Parenthood, Cruz said that most violent criminals are Democrats, and that is why Democrats are soft on crime.

He said the nuclear deal with Iran makes Obama the world’s leading financier of Islamic terrorists, on the grounds that the agreement allows Iranians access to up to $100 billion of their money that the U.S. government had frozen after the 1979 hostage crisis.

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Here are some of Ted Cruz’s more noteworthy proposals:

  • Impose a five-year mandatory minimum sentence on anyone who enters the United States illegally for a second time..ted-cruz-cartoon-sack
  • Abolish the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Energy, Department of Education, Department of Commerce and Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Eliminate federal income taxes, payroll taxes, business taxes and inheritance taxes.
  • Replace them with (1) a 10 percent flat rate tax on incomes above a threshold, which would be $36,000 for a family of four, and after certain deductions, and (2) a 16 percent business tax on revenue minus expenses (technically this is different from profit)
  • Impose a hiring freeze on federal civilian employees which would allow hiring of only one employee for every three that left.
  • Ban immigration from any country, such as Syria or Iraq, which contains territory controlled by terrorists.
  • Rescind the nuclear deal with Iran and resume sanctions against Iran.
  • Cease U.S. contributions to the United Nations as long as the U.N. continues its “anti-Israel” bias.
  • Cut off federal funds to any U.S. university that boycotts Israel.
  • Cease any effort to mitigate climate change or limit greenhouse gasses, because neither is real.

He actually seems more moderate on some of the “virtue” issues than others:

  • Forbid abortion, but with an exception if the life of the mother is endangered.
  • Oppose same sex marriage and civil unions, but leave it to the states to decide.
  • Oppose marijuana legalization, but leave it to the states to decide.
  • Retain the death penalty, but reduce “overcriminalization, harsh mandatory minimum sentences and the demise of jury trials.”

I think his relative moderation is because he recognizes that the national public opinion is flowing against his desired version of a Christian society, but thinks it might be possible to preserve it in Texas and certain other individual states.

I agree with him on at least one issue.  He said U.S. efforts to overthrow the government of President Assad of Syria would only bring the Islamic State (ISIS) into power.  “We have no dog in that fight,” he said.  He does favor an intensified war on terror, backed up by a larger army with more up-to-date weapons, but a Cruz administration might have the merit of concentrating on the actual terrorists.

Then again, he talks about carpet-bombing of areas where ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorists are strong.  Does he know what “carpet bombing” is?  It is the saturation of an area with bombs so that no living thing survives and no structure is left standing.  Does he think this is Christian?  Does he think this will make us safe?

LINKS

Ted Cruz article on Wikipedia.

Cruz for President: Issues on the web site of his Presidential campaign.

Ted Cruz on the Issues.

The Theology of Ted Cruz by John Fea for Christianity Today.  [added 4/18/2016]

Stop Calling Ted Cruz a Dominionist by Robert Gagnon and Edith Humphrey for Chtistianity Today [added 4/18/2015]

Five faith facts about Ted Cruz: It’s all about God’s work by Cathy Lynn Grossman for Religion News.

Ted Cruz Believing God for the Second Great Awakening by Jennifer LeClaire for Charisma News.

Is Ted Cruz a Reagan 2.0 Candidate? by Steve Strang and Jennifer LeClaire for Charisma News.

Ted Cruz embraces apocalyptic preachers and anti-gay militants by David Horsey for the Baltimore Sun [added 4/16/2016]

Ted Cruz mega-donors’ path to ‘kingdom building’ by Kenneth P. Vogel for POLITICO.  [added 4/16/2016]

Ted Cruz and the born-again GOP by Steve Chapman for the Chicago Tribune.

Cruz warns of ‘war on faith’ at religion freedom rally by Emma Margolin for MSNBC.

Ted Cruz Assures Voters He Will Address ‘Crisis’ of Gay Marriage by Emily Atkin for ThinkProgress.

As Supreme Court Clerk, Ted Cruz Made Death Penalty His Cause by Jason Horowitz for The New York Times.

Cruz’s Record Before the Supreme Court by Robert Farley for FactCheck.org.

Ted Cruz, In Case You Had Forgotten, Is Scary, Too by Nick Ottens for the Atlantic Sentinel.

Ted Cruz’s Conservative Revolution by Molly Ball for The Atlantic.

Ted Cruz: Police need to ‘patrol’ Muslim neighborhoods by Jeremy Diamond for CNN.

Ted Cruz’s Definition of Torture Is So Extreme, His Father’s Torture Might Not Even Qualify by Alex Emmons for The Intercept.  [Added 4/14/2016]

Memo to Ted Cruz: Carpet Bombing Is, By Definition, a Human Rights Atrocity by Branko Marcetic for In These Times [Added 4/14/2014}

Big Money—If Not the GOP Establishment—Has Been With Ted Cruz From the Start by Will Tucker for Moyers and Company.

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