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The Ted Cruz Majority

What's a revolution without a food taster?

By 2.20.14

UPI
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So. ABC’s Jonathan Karl jokes that Senator Ted Cruz is so hated inside the Senate GOP Caucus that he needs “a food taster” to attend Republican lunches. But? But the Hill has this story:

Cruz to get hero's welcome in Iowa, NH

Conservatives in Iowa and New Hampshire are preparing a hero’s welcome for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) after he showed up Senate Republican leaders during a crucial vote on the debt limit.

Cruz infuriated his Senate Republican colleagues this week when he filibustered a clean bill to raise the debt limit. His objection forced Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and 11 other Republicans to vote with Democrats to advance the legislation.

But in Iowa and New Hampshire, two important presidential primary states, conservative activists are cheering Cruz’s stand and buzzing about a possible presidential run in 2016.

Activists in the two states said they plan to show Cruz their appreciation when he visits in March and April.

“A tickertape parade,” said Steve Deace, a conservative radio host based in Iowa when asked what kind of reception Cruz will receive from activists next month.

“At this point with grassroots conservatives around the country it’s a close vote between who they distrust the most, the president, [Speaker] John Boehner [R-Ohio] or Mitch McConnell,” he said.

Senator Cruz, as indicated above, has again ruffled Senate GOP Leadership feathers, this time by forcing the Senate to come up with 60 votes to increase the debt ceiling. Cruz went on Mark Levin’s show the other night and had some pointed comments on the subject.

But first, Fox’s Chris Stirewalt wrote the following last week in his always informative Fox News political briefing:

CRUZ BRUSHES BY MCCONNELL PRIMARY

AP: “Legislation to raise the nation's borrowing authority with no strings attached was short of the 60 votes it needed to advance — a threshold [Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas] demanded — and without a few conversions, Republicans would be blamed for its failure. The stock market was watching. After what seemed like an eternity, a grim-faced Sen. Mitch McConnell, the party leader who faces a tea party challenge back home, finally voted yes. An equally grim-faced Sen. John Cornyn, the party's No. 2 leader and Cruz's Texas colleague, changed his vote from no to yes. Cruz showed no mercy in exposing Republican leaders to widespread criticism from their primary challengers over a procedural vote on the debt limit after their pronouncements about the imperative of spending cuts. It could have been a simple 50-vote requirement, with Democrats delivering the votes to lift the debt limit, but Cruz insisted. Pressed after the vote about what he made his leaders do, Cruz was unapologetic. ‘It should have been a very easy vote,’ he told reporters. ‘In my view, every Senate Republican should have stood together.’ He added that the verdict on McConnell ‘is ultimately a decision ... for the voters in Kentucky.’’’

Remember when? — In a statement, Cruz warned “There are too many members of Congress who think they can fool people and they will forget about it the next week. But sometimes, come November, the people remember.”

Translation for conservatives? Yet again the GOP establishment caved. Is it any wonder Ted Cruz is going to be getting that hero’s welcome next month? Or that out there in America at the grassroots level it can be said “that it’s a close vote between who they distrust the most, the president, [Speaker] John Boehner [R-Ohio] or Mitch McConnell"?

Yet even the great Thomas Sowell and our friends at the WSJ are going after Senator Cruz, the latter labeling Cruz as “The Minority Maker” and tagging him as the leader of a “rump kamikaze caucus.” Notably, in suggesting that Senator Cruz is leading the GOP to minority status, the paper wrote:

We’re all for holding politicians accountable with votes on substantive issues, but Mr. Cruz knew he couldn’t stop a debt increase the House had already passed.

Writes Mr. Sowell:

Senator Ted Cruz has not yet reached the point where he can make policy, rather than just make political trouble. But there are already disquieting signs that he is looking out for Ted Cruz — even if that sets back the causes he claims to be serving.

Those causes are not being served when Senator Cruz undermines the election chances of the only political party that has any chance of undoing the disasters that Barack Obama has already inflicted on the nation — and forestalling new disasters that are visible on the horizon.

Aside from asking what else Cruz should have done — he was, after all, elected to the Senate in the first place promising to do exactly what he’s doing — it is to be reminded that Cruz was following exactly Ronald Reagan’s winning strategy in this kind of situation. Back there in the stone age of 1987, when the House and Senate were controlled by Democrats, a Clean Water bill, trumpeted as an environmental must, was sent to Reagan’s desk. Reagan thought the bill loaded with pork, and said so. Not only did he say so — drawing a rebuke on the House floor for supporting pollution, wanting dirty air and water, etc. — he promised a veto. On February 3, House Republicans were called in to the White House and Reagan requested their support of his veto. He was told that the votes weren’t there, that his veto was doomed to be overridden — and it was. But as Reagan later that night wrote in his diary:

“A meeting with Repub. Cong. Leadership. I pitched a plan that they stand together so that even with Dem’s out voting us we can point out to the people how different the Dems and Repubs are. I don’t think they got the message. In the House today only 26 Republicans supported my Veto of the Clean Water Bill.”

In other words? Just as Ted Cruz knew he couldn’t stop the debt ceiling increase, Ronald Reagan knew he couldn’t stop his Clean Water veto from being overridden. Democrats had the votes. But as was true throughout his active political life, Reagan believed it was important to draw a line in the sand so “we can point out to the people how different the Dems and Repubs are.” Reagan — and the GOP — were amply rewarded for this strategy. In fact, it was exactly this that prompted voters to elect Reagan twice in two landslides, elect a GOP Senate in 1980, and elect the man who campaigned as Reagan’s heir, George H.W. Bush, in another landslide that was seen in the day as a win for a “Reagan Third Term.” In 1994, after using the same strategy, Newt Gingrich led another Reaganite victory to overturn the go-along-to-get-along GOP Old Guard in the House — they who had had produced 40 years of minority status. Did Reagan understand that his strategy might mean losing this or that fight on occasion, as Reagan lost the Clean Water bill fight? Absolutely. But Reagan played the long game. He was right, and had the results to show for it.

Ted Cruz gets Reagan’s message. Senators McConnell; Barrasso, WY; Collins, ME; Corker, TN.; Cornyn, TX; Flake, AZ.; Hatch, UT; Johanns, NE.; Kirk, IL.; McCain, AZ.; Murkowski, AK; and Thune, S.D. obviously do not.

As mentioned, last week Senator Cruz went on Mark Levin’s show (found at about 56 minutes in), as reported by Fox’s Chris Stirewalt:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told conservative radio host Mark Levin on Thursday evening that establishment GOP politicians will "never" listen to the American people. "If we wait on the entrenched politicians in Washington, hell will freeze over before that happens,” Cruz answered when Levin asked whether Republicans will ever listen. "This is nothing new. The answers come from America, from millions of people standing up and holding elected officials accountable"…Cruz said earlier in the interview that many Republicans in the U.S. Congress wanted to increase the debt ceiling. "Make no mistake about it," Cruz said. "This was their desired outcome. An awful lot of Republicans wanted exactly what Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid wanted, which is to raise the debt ceiling. But, they wanted to be able to tell what they view as their foolish gullible constituents that they didn’t do it, and they’re mad because by my refusing to consent to [a bare-majority vote] they had to come out in the open and admit to that."

So yet again the Senate GOP establishment flinches, turning its back on Reagan’s winning strategy. Reagan is seen today as one of the most popular and successful of not only recent presidents but all 44 presidents. There is a reason for this, and it is directly attributable to Reagan’s understanding that even in taking a loss a political party can chalk up a win by drawing the philosophical dividing line between the Left and the Right, something that is not possible when the party’s leadership is busy blurring that line. Blurring the line — as those GOP establishment Senators did, as House Speaker Boehner routinely does — is what cast the GOP into the wilderness for 40 years before Newt Gingrich restored a Reaganite conservative majority in 1994.

Ronald Reagan is somewhere shaking his head. He knew a “rump kamikaze caucus” when he saw one. He described them as the “fraternal order” Republicans. And he knew that this kind of establishment politics is exactly what had made the GOP a minority — and kept it there until he came along. 

Outside of the Beltway, as Ted Cruz pointed out on Mark’s show — and this is underlined by that story in the Hill noting that Cruz will be given a hero’s welcome when he turns up in Iowa and New Hampshire — grassroots America understands exactly the game that is being played. Cruz compared what’s happening now to the late 1970s, when another Democrat in the White House — that would be Jimmy Carter — led America into a seemingly hopeless morass and Washington’s establishment Republicans couldn’t summon the will to resist. What saved the Republican Party and the country were grassroots Americans outside of Washington who disdained the GOP establishment — and who formed the heart and soul and political backbone of what became the Reagan Revolution.

In 1980, Tennessee Senator Howard Baker was the GOP’s Senate Minority leader. Interestingly, this was exactly the same job that, two decades earlier, had been held by his late father-in-law, Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen. Baker — who had won the nickname “The Great Conciliator” and supported President Carter’s giveaway of the Panama Canal — ran for president. Reagan, of course, had famously opposed Carter on the Panama Canal issue and incurred the wrath of the GOP establishment by going from one end of America to the other saying “we built it, we paid for it, it’s ours and we should tell Torrijos [then Panama’s ruling military dictator] we are going to keep it.” Baker lost resoundingly to Reagan. During the 1980 GOP Convention in Detroit, Howard Baker was spotted standing at the rim of the Convention Floor, studying the enthusiastic Reagan delegates. Said Baker in a tone of puzzled astonishment: “These aren’t my people.”

And so they weren’t. Any more than those grassroots Americans preparing to give Senator Cruz a hero’s welcome are not “the people” of the GOP establishment that is today so furious with Ted Cruz that a reporter suggests Cruz needs a “food taster” to attend lunch. There is a disconnect here. A big one. A disconnect between the grassroots base and the establishment. At this point in American history, it should be crystal clear that the reason the GOP has its minority status in the Senate — not to mention that come 2016 it will have been locked out of the White House for — is precisely because it rolls over and effectively plays politically dead when push comes to shove.

Simply put, Ted Cruz — like Ronald Reagan before him — understands what it takes to make a majority. And he’s doing it. Over the vociferous objections of the same kind of people who kept warning Republicans that if they listened to Ronald Reagan they would get clobbered. Which is exactly why Ted Cruz is being greeted as a hero.

Ted Cruz is in the process of making a new Reagan Revolution, the Cruz Majority. On second thought, maybe he does he needs a food taster when he dines with GOP leadership.

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About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.