The race for the 2016 Presidential Election has officially begun, with Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) becoming the first Republican candidate to announce their run for the Oval Office. Cruz first announced his candidacy through Twitter shortly past midnight Monday night. Later on that day, Cruz followed up his tweet by announcing his run for president through an enthusiastic speech in front of 11,000 students at Liberty University, a self-proclaimed Christian academic community in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Senator Ted Cruz
In his speech, Cruz talks heavily about his faith and belief in God and how it has helped shaped his own personal life. He asks the crowd to imagine (a word he used a total of 41 times in his speech) “millions of courageous conservatives, all across America, rising up together to say in unison ‘we demand our liberty’,” apparently referring to President Obama’s time in office as a totalitarian regime. Naturally, Cruz used his speech to bash Obamacare, stating that President Obama’s crowning piece of legislation left “millions” of Americans uninsured. In reality, more than 10 million Americans became insured because of the Affordable Care Act, effectively dropping the rate of uninsured Americans to 12.9%— the lowest it has ever been.
Cruz went on to insist that there is an assault on American’s religious freedoms on behalf of the federal government, telling his audience to imagine a federal government that “works to defend the sanctity of human life and to uphold the sacrament of marriage,”; that is, one man, one woman. “Instead of a president who boycotts Prime Minister Netanyahu,” Cruz tells his audience to imagine a president “who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel,” a clear reference to the recent tension between the two nation’s leaders. In Cruz’s imaginary world, the president upholds the Constitution and will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons under any circumstance, because the two are somehow related.
While Cruz admits his ideas might seem a little far fetched, he tells his audience that anything is possible in America through the grace of God Almighty, not the hard work of the millions of people in this country. To prove this point, Cruz referenced the GOP’s lord and savior
Jesus Christ Ronald Reagan, how he single-handedly destroyed communism, freed those American captives held by Iran, and created an economic boom in America through his flat tax rate (though some would argue that Reaganomics did more harm than good); all those things seemed impossible at the time, yet Reagan managed to do it through the help of God.
For those of our readers who either don’t follow American politics or don’t know much about Ted Cruz, I’ve decided to use this section to explain his stances on social issues.
What are Ted Cruz’s views on….
- Ted Cruz is one of the greatest detractors of women’s rights. He not only fiercely opposes abortion and believes that they should not be publicly (tax-dollar) funded, but also was one of the twenty-two male Republican Senators that voted against renewing the Violence Against Women Act.
- When questioned why he voted against it, Cruz stated that he did so “because stopping and punishing violent criminals is primarily a state responsibility, and the federal government does not need to be dictating state criminal law,” pretty much dodging the question and reducing the complex issue of domestic and sexual abuse to a state’s rights issue.
- Believes that companies and churches should be allowed to deny contraceptive care for their employees if it contradicts with their religious views.
- Marriage should be between one man and one woman and should be defined as so. Any state definition of marriage should supersede any legalization of gay marriage at the federal level.
- The Second Amendment should not be restricted, opposes high-capacity magazine bans.
- Supports death penalty.
- Supports voter ID laws.
- Big proponent of Reaganomics, or as it’s commonly known by its critics, trickle-down economics. Reaganomics is the economic school-of-thought with these four main tenets: federal spending should be cut, taxes on wealthy people and corporations should be lowered, government regulations should be eased, and the growth of the money supply should be controlled in order to tame inflation.
- As a fan of Reaganomics, Cruz proposes the United States adopt a flat-rate tax across the board, meaning that all tax brackets would be paying the same tax rate.
- If Cruz becomes president, he will also get rid of the IRS.
The Environment & Energy
- Cruz does not believe that humans have greatly contributed to global warming, stating that there has been “zero warming” or “no recorded warming” in the past seventeen years. In an interview with The Texas Tribune, Cruz went as far as to say that “global warming alarmists” are the equivalent of flat-Earthers– people who believe the earth is flat.
- Voted against the Water Resources Development Act of 2013, a piece of legislation that would appropriate federal founds to the “protection and conservation of United States ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems”.
- Proposed the American Energy Renaissance Act, which, if passed, would nullify all federal climate change regulation in the United States, effectively stripping the federal government of their power to regulate carbon and greenhouse emissions. Would also include provisions to approve the Keystone Pipeline and allow increased drilling in public lands.
Homeland Security & Immigration
- Despite being the child of a Cuban immigrant and grandchild of Irish immigrants, Cruz is very anti-immigrant. He opposed President Obama’s executive order that granted protection from deportation to millions of immigrants in this country as well as the President’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration plan
- Opposes a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country.
- Supports giving police more power to ask detainees about their immigration status.
- Proponent of adding extra manpower to the US-Mexico border and creating a larger physical wall.
- Cruz would throw himself in front of a train if it meant stopping the expansion of Obamacare.
- Back in 2013, Cruz persuaded fellow Republican Senators to tie government funding to a bill that would completely defund Obamacare. The bill did not pass, causing the federal government to shut down for over two weeks. Cruz still sees the government shutdown that he caused as a political victory for Republicans to this day.
- Vows to repeal every single word of the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a market-based health insurance system.
Despite his sometimes ignorant or misinformed stances on social issues, Ted Cruz, is in fact, quite intelligent. Not only does he hold degrees from both Princeton and Harvard Law School, but his choice of setting in which he announced his candidacy was quite the smart tactical move on his part. By announcing his bid for the presidency in front of a crowd of thousands of fervent evangelical students, Cruz begins his courtship of the same voter block that helped George W. Bush win two presidential elections.
As of this writing, Ted Cruz ranks extremely low on various 2016 election polls, with more prominent Republican candidates such as Jeb Bush or Scott Walker leading the pack, despite neither of those two having officially announced their candidacy yet. Cruz’s announcement was strategically planned to give him the leg-up and media coverage he so desperately needs. And it worked. Within a day of announcing his run for president, Ted Cruz’s campaign raised over $1 million, with two thirds of the donations made being under $200.
In the past two decades, Liberty University has become quite the political powerhouse. The university’s young conservative Southern Baptist student body creates an enticing audience that Republican politicians have pandered to. Seeing how the majority of the GOP’s support comes from older people, it has became crucial for Republican candidates to woo younger voters in order to win elections.
While Liberty University provided the young, conservative audience that is crucial to his election, Ted Cruz’s speech did not sit well with everyone in the student body. Irregardless of the students’ individual political beliefs, attendance to Ted Cruz’s speech was mandatory. According to Politifact, Liberty students that do not attend the Convocations, such as the one in which Cruz gave his speech, are given a $10 fine and have to do four reprimands. It may not seem like much, but the fine creates somewhat of a chilling effect on the students, essentially binding them to attend a political rally of a candidate they might not necessarily agree with. A student at Liberty actually put it best: “Students will either attend Convocation and lend to the illusion of widespread support for Sen. Cruz, or they will be subject to administrative punishment — specifically, four reprimands and a $10 fine — if they are absent. While Sen. Cruz has every right to run for president and to announce his candidacy, it is a highly deceptive, albeit politically savvy, move on Sen. Cruz’s part to make his big announcement here.”
The 2016 election cycle is a year and a half away, yet things are already beginning to heat up. With President Obama no longer running for re-election, it will be interesting to see in which direction voters will take this country. While it is far too early to make any predictions, the political stances of Republican Senator Ted Cruz make me worried about the actual possibility that we as a country might digress back to the George W. Bush era if not worse.