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KUHNER: Mr. Cruz goes to Washington
Question of the Day
Sen. Ted Cruz is a hero. The Texas Republican’s marathon speech decrying the evils of Obamacare has enraged Washington’s ruling class. Democrats and many Republicans are vilifying him. The establishment media — on the left and right — are portraying him as an out-of-control, ambitious and egotistical cowboy, who is cynically exploiting Americans’ growing opposition to President Obama’s signature health care law. They are wrong. Finally, a patriot has emerged, willing to wage a frontal assault on Mr. Obama’s bureaucratic monstrosity. This is the real reason he is being demonized.
Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican, claims that Mr. Cruz has “tapped into a dark strain” in the national “psyche.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, says the Texas populist is a “political anarchist.” Others on the left have gone so far as to accuse him of engaging in “terrorism.” MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews has compared Mr. Cruz to a modern-day Joseph McCarthy. National Review’s Jonah Goldberg argues that Mr. Cruz’s efforts were futile, nothing more than dramatic political theater.
A.B. Stoddard, columnist for the Hill newspaper, embodies the establishment’s conventional wisdom. She argues Mr. Cruz is a fraud that has been “snookering” his Tea Party supporters. Why? Because, she argues, Obamacare cannot be defunded or stopped by Republicans alone. Ms. Stoddard stresses that the GOP does not have the votes — and even if by some miracle they could peel away enough Democratic support, Mr. Obama would veto any defunding provision. Hence, according to Ms. Stoddard, Mr. Cruz is simply selling false hope to the Republican grass roots in a shameless attempt to build up his email and donor lists.
There are two problems with the establishment’s desperate attacks on Mr. Cruz: They are irrelevant and disingenuous. The Texas Republican is no fool. He never claimed to be a consensus-builder or that his actions would lead to an immediate legislative reversal of Obamacare. In fact, he argued the very opposite: His goal was to ignite a populist prairie fire, spotlighting the numerous flaws within government-run health care.
He has done something that almost no other modern politician has managed to do since President Reagan: Galvanize the American public in opposition to big-government liberalism — especially its cornerstone, socialized medicine. For more than 20 hours, Mr. Cruz eviscerated Obamacare, exposing its numerous costs and devastating consequences. In particular, he revealed that the massive, complex law would undermine economic growth, stifle job creation, cause massive hikes in premiums, slash most citizens’ health care benefits and impose a multitrillion-dollar entitlement that threatens to bankrupt America. In short, he refuted every promise Mr. Obama made. Mr. Cruz exposed the president as a charlatan and slick con man. For the establishment, this was the Texas Republican’s real crime. He refused to play by Washington’s rules, which places the corrupt status quo over genuine reform.
Ultimately, what did Mr. Cruz do that was supposedly so incendiary and dangerous? He went into the Senate chamber and gave a very long, substantive speech. He behaved according to the legal and constitutional prerogatives of his office. It was not even technically a filibuster. Mr. Cruz spoke out on an issue that will impact every American, and which is opposed by a strong majority. He gave voice to the disparate elements in the public that want Obamacare repealed — root and branch. In short, Mr. Cruz did what he was specifically elected by his constituents to do: Stand against the government takeover of one-sixth of the U.S. economy. To suggest his behavior is comparable to that of a terrorist, anarchist or demagogue is not only ridiculous; it is morally obscene. Mr. Cruz was simply doing his job — nothing more or less.
The reaction to Mr. Cruz’s action reveals the massive chasm between our ruling elites and the people. On numerous issues — bombing Syria, amnesty, the debt bomb, runaway deficits, man-made global warming, corporate welfare, government bailouts, free trade and Obamacare — Washington’s political and media class is ominously disconnected from Middle America. Obamacare is a massive redistribution of wealth from tax producers to tax consumers. It soaks middle- and working-class Americans, imposing huge new health care costs and myriad taxes and fees. It is the final nail in traditional America’s coffin, paving the way to a European-style nanny state.
Mr. Cruz’s speech marks a watershed in our politics. It is akin to a peasant rebellion. A new populism is being born. Call it the Middle American Revolution. Its overriding aim is the devolution of power — restoring our Constitution and representative self-government. We are not a nation of serfs, but freeborn citizens. It is time to overthrow our political overlords and teach them one seminal lesson: They work for us, not the other way around. Our elites — both liberal Democrats and establishment Republicans — have driven America to the brink of collapse.
Mr. Cruz has lit the fuse. It is up to Tea Party conservatives — libertarians, constitutionalists, traditionalists and nationalists — to finish what he has started. Hence, they should attach one provision to any legislation that will fund the entire government, including Obamacare — namely, that every member of Congress and their staffers cannot be exempt from the health care legislation. If it’s good enough for ordinary Americans, it should be good enough for the political elites. This is equality under the law, the most sacred principle in our democracy.
Republicans should dare the president and Senate Democrats to vote against it. It will be Mr. Obama’s Waterloo — the battle that will cost his party control of Congress in the 2014 midterm election. Conservatives should grab their pitchforks.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a radio host on WRKO AM-680 in Boston.
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