Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ted Cruz: modern day McCarthy

Americans have heard quite a bit about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the opinions about it have become increasingly divided. This week, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) took the Senate floor with the stated purpose of opposing "Obamacare" and encouraging his fellow members of Congress to vote to defund the controversial piece of legislation. His speech ended up as one of the longest in the history of the United States Senate, clocking in at slightly over 21 hours.

In that lengthy speech, Cruz spoke on a multitude of issues (Senate decorum does not require a member to stay on topic) and yet hardly any of these issues had to do with the problem of health care cost and coverage. Instead of using this opportunity to discuss ways to create a better health care system, Cruz found it prudent to trot out comparisons of the ACA and Democrats to measures implemented by the Nazis in 1940s Germany.

Despite what any of us may think about the ACA, a comparison to arguably the vilest group of thugs in modern history is both foolish and irresponsible.
The ACA has plenty of provisions that need to be fixed and ought to be critiqued heavily, but Cruz's efforts would have us believe the ACA will be the end of the free market as we know it and send the United States down the path of a single-payer system.

Here's an example of the vague nature of Cruz's shenanigans. He noted about the ACA:
Everyone in America understands ObamaCare is destroying jobs. It is driving up health care costs. It is killing health benefits. It is shattering the economy. All across the country in all 50 States--it doesn't matter what State you go to, you can go to any State in the Union, it doesn't matter if you are talking to Republicans or Democrats or Independents or Libertarians--Americans understand this thing is not working ... ObamaCare is the biggest job killer in this country.

How can anyone understand the ACA isn't working when it hasn't been fully implemented? Additionally, Cruz offered absolutely no statistical data or studies detailing precisely how the ACA was the destructive force he claimed it to be. It's as if Cruz would have us believe he has some intangible, intuitive nature as to what works best in our society. Please feel free to peruse the full text of Cruz's remarks.

If Senator Cruz is so fond of historical comparisons, then allow me to point out another. In 1950, a freshman senator from Wisconsin shocked the nation by claiming he had a list of names of Communists who had infiltrated the American government. Before this revelation, most Americans had no idea of who Joe McCarthy was. He had been a senator near the end of his first term and held no real distinction nor could he lay claim to sponsoring any key legislation. McCarthy's antics in hunting for Communists propelled his political career to heights unseen (and yet no Communist was ever found to have infiltrated the government). Fear became his ally. Likewise, Cruz is not above using such a tool.

Cruz is a rookie senator who had previously never held an elected position at any level. Since taking office last January, he's not been involved in any key legislative action, and his political career has been very pedestrian. Yet, Cruz's actions in his long-winded speech aren't solely to manipulate feelings about the ACA.

Can there be any doubt that Cruz is being groomed by the Republican Party for a presidential run in 2016? His core political beliefs match all the key positions the GOP hold dear — abortion, same-sex marriage, gun rights, and restricting the power of the federal government. Cruz has a stellar career as an attorney, with experience in several high profile cases. Moreover, his lack of voting record in the past allows the GOP to craft a future candidate that will be more difficult for Democrats to attack. And, of course, Cruz is Hispanic. The GOP understands its need to reach out to the fastest growing voting bloc in the nation and one that has traditionally voted Democrat.

By making a 21 hour speech, Cruz became the headline story on every major news outlet and late night talk show. He created a buzz on Twitter by encouraging follows to "#makeDClisten". In typical American fashion, though, people were enamored by the senator's style, and not his substance. Americans seemed more intrigued by the notion that a man would speak for such an incredible amount of time rather than the words dribbling from his mouth.

After vaguely labeling the ACA as the great end to all economic prosperity, Cruz used his time on the Senate floor to mention movies such as "Star Wars" and "Freddy vs. Jason", read bedtime stories, reminisce about his childhood, and read the 'tweets' of his supporters.

Cruz is no different than any other demagogue trying to whip people into a frenzy. The Republican Party wants us to believe Cruz is the defender of freedom and presidential material. Cruz wants you to believe he's a modern day Churchill. In reality, he has sunk to the level of McCarthy. Instead of working to create quality legislation, Cruz pounds the table loudly because he has no other way to distinguish himself.

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