(For those who are not familiar with the News Sandwich format, my goal is always to sandwich some bad news between at least two items of good news. Read “About,” above, for more on this blog.)
Yesterday Ted Cruz delivered this speech
in which he formally announced that he is running for President in the 2016 election. Cruz gave us ample reason to continue to believe that he is the best option we have in the field, reiterating his intention to sign legislation repealing every word of Obamacare and every word of Common Core; to abolish the IRS and have us file our taxes–which would be levied at a flat rate–on a postcard-sized form; to unapologetically stand with Israel and prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon; to protect our privacy, and more.
The date Cruz chose to announce his candidacy could not have been more perfect. He reminded us that, 240 years earlier, Patrick Henry delivered his legendary “Give me liberty, or give me death” speech in a church about 100 miles away; and that 5 years earlier, Barack Obama had signed Obamacare into law. Anyone in whom there remains a glimmer of appreciation for what the United States once was–as Ayn Rand repeatedly said, the most moral and most noble nation on earth–could see the evidence of decline in that single snapshot. And Cruz who, as usual, came across as earnest and knowledgeable (speaking, as many have noted, entirely without teleprompter), is offering us the promise of taking significant steps towards returning this country to what it once was.
I wasn’t surprised that Cruz–a religious man speaking from Liberty University–promised to do some things that would, in my view, violate individual rights: restrict (perhaps even ban–Cruz was a bit vague here) a woman’s right to abortion, as well as gay marriage. What was surprising is that, immediately after promising to repeal every word of Common Core, Cruz spoke of a “fundamental right to education,” something that, to my knowledge, has not yet existed at the federal level. (Many states, in their own constitutions, purport to guarantee such a right, but our federal constitution leaves education as the province of the state governments.) Hearing that, I fear that Cruz, were he to succeed in his plans, might create more freedom in education in the short term, but only at the price of having a bigger federal government takeover of education down the road. I am eager to hear more details about his plans.
Another thing that has not surprised me is many Objectivists’ reluctance to support Ted Cruz because of his religious views. As I reiterated on my show last night, my support for Cruz is a contextual decision, based on my judgement that he is likely to be the best candidate in the field–substantially better than any other–and that our country’s situation is dire enough to take a chance on a good, albeit religious, candidate.
What has surprised me is the vehemence with which many who purport to be limited government conservatives have criticized and, at least so far, rejected Cruz. Assuming these conservatives agree with most or all of Cruz’s policy positions, why the vehemence? I fear there are a couple things that might be going on, and neither bodes well for the future of this country.
First, I fear that many reject Cruz for the same reason that Greg Gutfeld and others have criticized him: that Cruz is, at least to some extent, selfish. In Gutfeld’s terms, “Cruz is in it for himself.” Cruz has twice, on the floor of the Senate during filibuster-type speeches, cited Ayn Rand. Once, during his Obamacare “filibuster,” he went so far as to name Rand as “one of my all-time heroes,” and urged people to read her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged. As I’ve said repeatedly on my show, I think the difference that has made the difference with Cruz is his genuine appreciation for Ayn Rand and his earnest and surprisingly successful attempt to integrate her view of rational self-interest with his religious views. Could it be that many conservatives reject Cruz precisely because of this fact? As Rand demonstrated in her novels and nonfiction works (e.g., The Virtue of Selfishness), it is the morality of rational self-interest that provides the only defensible philosophical foundation for the right to the pursuit of happiness. If many of those who are supposed to be the proponents of limited government reject the ideas on which it rests, tyranny is closer than we think.
The second thing I fear could be seen as a variation on the first: that the thirty-plus years that have passed since we elected Ronald Reagan–thirty-plus additional years of progressive education and inculcating dependence via the welfare state–have taken their toll on the American sense of life. The principle of individual rights and the goal of restoring limited government are, for many, no longer ideas grounded in reality, but fantasies to be achieved “someday.” “The country isn’t ready for a Ted Cruz,” many of these critics say, choosing instead to embrace the milquetoast alternatives of Jeb Bush or Chris Christie, even Scott Walker.
Of course there is no such thing as “milquetoast” when we’re talking about moderating the protection of individual rights. And with Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion becoming more entrenched by the day, the FCC’s recent takeover of the Internet, and much more, the situation is becoming dire. So it baffles me that so many who say they are for individual rights and limited government, so vehemently reject the only candidate who seems to be offering a clear path toward achieving both. Let’s hope that Cruz wins over critics like these over the next 18 months. The support of some talk radio heavyweights–Limbaugh, Beck and Levin–will no doubt help in this.
In the meantime, I thank those who participated in the chatroom during last night’s show for helping me formulate my four-question interview for Ted Cruz, should he ever accept my standing invitation to be interviewed for my show:
1. What would you tell limited-government atheists who would like to support you, but worry that you will ban abortion and prohibit marriage among homosexuals?
2. You say that, on the one hand, you would like to repeal Common Core, but that you would also like to recognize a federal “fundamental right to education.” Don’t you think the latter would create a dangerous new precedent, which would someday invite something even worse than Common Core?
3. During your announcement speech you didn’t mention the Federal Reserve or the vast debt our country has accumulated. Do you have particular plans for those?
4. Rawls or Rand? You have expressed affinity for both thinkers, but they held contradictory views. Can you explain?
Over the next 17 months or so I will do what I can to get these questions before Cruz. Let me know if you can help. And, if you like this post, and would like to see me get this interview, please share with your friends and followers. Thanks!