We are familiar with presidents like John Kennedy and George W. Bush (and just plain folks) who rebel against the long shadows cast by their potent fathers. Ted Cruz, by contrast, seems to have dedicated his life to making his father’s imaginary kingdom manifest on earth. Far from being a rebel, he is a loyal follower and true believer.
Rafael Cruz, unlike many assimilated and successful immigrants, has never gotten over his beginnings elsewhere. He has made the Cuba of his origins into Hell and he imagines the Paradise he found in America is in constant danger of going to the devil. Literally.
As a teen-ager he joined the resistance to the dictator Batista. He may even have gone so far as to dabble in bomb building, which after 9/11, Iraq, and Boston has lost whatever romantic aura it ever had. He and his co-conspirators were caught by the dictator’s secret police, jailed, and beaten. All but he apparently disappeared, — either into the penal system or permanently. Cruz was let off with the warning that if a bomb went off anytime in the future the police would come for him.
Discretion being the better part of valor, he applied to schools in the United States and betook himself to the University of Texas. While not directly affiliated with the Castro guerilla movement, he was in sympathy with revolution against Batista. He was bleakly disillusioned when Castro’s turned out to be a closeted communist. He never got over it.
He studied math and science and was good with early computers. He divorced his first wife and married Ted’s mother with whom he started a seismic-exploration company that served the oil industry. The marriage hit the rocks when Ted was young, but Rafael was born again and got his estranged wife to attend services with him. Rafael’s rebirth was the second seminal event from which he never recovered.
The marriage wasn’t so long-lasting. They stayed together until Ted entered Princeton, having been tutored by his father, now turned charismatic evangelical preacher and proselytizer for extreme laissez faire capitalism and hard-edged conservatism. He is not just intolerant of communists and liberals but of mainstream Christian sects which he views as apostate. In short, he’s a religious and political zealot.
This makes him a popular rabble-rousing speaker in right wing circles. He often serves as a surrogate for Ted on the campaign trail. Somewhat creepily he calls his son “The Anointed One.” The inflammatory rhetoric of the father keeps the Senate office of the son busy issuing warnings that Rafael does not speak for the senator. But often that’s exactly what he’s doing. Furthermore, the tenor of Ted’s remarks demonstrate that the nut doesn’t fall very far from the tree. In fact, Ted’s philosophy is just a slightly buffed up version of his father’s with less emphasis on Castro and a lot more on the trashing of the Constitution by the forces of darkness.
In Rafael’s mind anyone who isn’t violently opposed to all government is another Castro. He wows the conservative rubber-chicken circuit by saying Castro came to power promising Hope and Change. Get it? Castro, too, wanted the government to take over all health care. He, too, wanted gun control, the better to impose dictatorship on a defenseless people. Obama is clearly a Marxist, Muslim tyrant from Kenya. You can tell because he leaves “Under God” out when he says the pledge of allegiance. In case this all sounds like satire or hyperbole, it’s not. These are quotes. You could look it up.
Like Castro, Obama wants to redistribute wealth and turn America into a third world country. Rafael advises his flock to avoid public schools where the government brainwashes children as in Marxist countries. Beware of humanists; they are immoral atheists, and global warming and evolution are not science but are Marxist tools to give government an excuse to take over the economy and bring free enterprise to an end. The present drought in California was created by the government to protect a minnow.
Rafael may not speak for Ted, but Ted speaks a lot like Rafael. In fact, it’s amazing a man smart enough to get into Princeton and Harvard Law never seems to have questioned any of his father’s beliefs, but swallowed them whole. It’s a weird case of arrested development since most young people sooner or later rebel. Not Cruz. He believed most of the Harvard Law faculty to be communists, for example. Like his father he only wants to rebel against the present and return to an imagined past.
For instance, he wants to return Constitutional interpretation to the days before Earl Warren, perhaps to the days of Dred Scott. He favors states’ rights of the John Calhoun, nullification variety. He would ban all abortions and has called same-sex marriage “tragic and irresponsible.” He promises to abolish the IRS and says its 110,000 agents could be sent to guard the Mexican border to keep out illegal aliens. (Fact check: There are only 14,000 IRS agents. Close, but no Cuban cigar.)
Of course he wants to repeal Obamacare and was willing to shut down the government to show he meant it. His alternative is to tell the uninsured to go to the emergency room if they insist on getting sick. Naturally he has promised to cancel all of Obama’s executive orders. He, too, views global warming as a hoax. Fiscally, he wants to eliminate taxes on estates and capital gains and substitute a flat tax for the rest. He would cut government to the bone, privatize Social Security, and raise the retirement age. He’s against raising the minimum wage and extending unemployment benefits, which just make people deadbeats. He favors school choice over public education.
There’s one thing he does want more of – the military. He favors bombing ISIS back to the Stone Age, a memorable quote from the Vietnam era. He wants to triple the border patrol, build the fence higher and offer no path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Since his father wasn’t naturalized until 2005, if such strictures had been in effect in 1957 when Rafael arrived he’d still be in Havana.
Cruz once accused Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel of being in the pay of North Korea, and says Secretary of State John Kerry voted for treaties designed to undermine U.S. sovereignty. He also believes the United Nations is engaged in an environmental plot that would ban golf courses if America goes along. He fears the coming of Sharia law, accuses Obama and the Democrats of seeking to control the entire economy, and believes if nothing is done “in ten years we’ll be off the cliff to oblivion.” Apocalypse soon!
Like his father, Ted believes almost everyone else is either in a plot to bring down the country or is too lily-livered to do what it takes to save it. In other words, as George Wallace once said of the Republicans and Democrats, there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between Rafael and Ted. Except Rafael only wants to speak for God. Ted wants to speak for the United States of America as its president. God help us.