Tea party leader Sen. Ted Cruz reckons if he can make you hate Congress more than you already do, you’ll quit caring about what happens in Washington. Then Cruz can take over and give the run of Capitol Hill to his billionaire benefactors.
His cynical strategy aims to drive a wedge between the governed and government.
With public disapproval of Congress hovering around 80 percent and fewer Americans going to the polls, Cruz is in danger of achieving his goal.
What we used to call “the loyal opposition” is now the disloyal enemy within, advancing their radical agenda while undermining the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, but most especially, cutting out the voices of American voters.
Loyalty isn’t just owed to the office of the president. It’s owed to our Constitution, which only works if everyone accepts government by consensus. Nobody, from Cruz on one end of the political spectrum to Sen. Bernie Sanders on the other, gets everything they want all the time.
Or at least that’s how the Founders saw the republic working. They envisioned moderation, compromise and agreeable disagreement; if you’ll concede this, I’ll concede that.
Up until Jan. 21, 2009, it worked pretty well.
Since the day Barack Obama was inaugurated, however, a relatively small number of extremists backed by secretive big money interests have dispensed with such niceties.
If they can’t have the government they want, America will have no government at all.
Just last week, with desperate refugee children at the U.S. border seeking asylum in the U.S. under the 2008 Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Act, Republican House Speaker John Boehner thought he had the votes to pass a modest relief bill.
But Cruz stabbed Boehner in the back, instructing his fellow extremists in the House to block the legislation. Giddy tea partiers got what they wanted the next day, a bill so freighted with non-starter amendments they knew the Senate would reject it.
“We completely gutted (Boehner’s) bill,” bragged lame duck Rep. Michelle Bachmann.
“They’re not even trying to solve the problem,” replied a disgusted President Obama. “Imagine how much farther along our economy would be — how much stronger our country would be — if Congress would do its job.”
After another humiliating defeat by his own party, and within 24 hours of his House vote to sue Obama over executive powers, the hapless Speaker was recommending Obama use his executive powers to ease the situation on the border.
Tea party Rep. Steve King of Iowa then threatened impeachment if Obama acts alone to help the children, while Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama called the president’s concern about the refugees “a war on white people.”
All the ugliness has left many conservatives cold.
“The GOP again gave the country the impression that its highest policy priority is to deport as many children as rapidly as possible back from wherever they came,” chided the conservative Wall Street Journal.
A Baptist, Cruz is defying Christ’s teaching: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Most Americans agree with Jesus, not with the junior senator from Texas, according to a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute. Nearly 70 percent of respondents said the refugee children should be allowed to stay “if authorities determine it is not safe for them to return to their home country.”
Promising to pay back Republicans at the polls in November, Illinois Democrat Rep. Luis Gutierrez said Cruz and his posse, “want to punish our community … In the end, the Republican position on immigration can be summed up as ‘deport ‘em all.’”
Angry Latino and Hispanic voters will be joined at the polls by a coalition of Americans sick and tired of Cruz’s cynicism and all the right wing hate; Americans who still believe in the Pledge of Allegiance and that wonderful promise inscribed on the Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore/Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me/I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Kevin Foley is an author, writer and public relations executive who lives in Kennesaw.