COMMENTARY | Unless you’re a Tea Partier, it’s kind of hard to find praise for Republican Texas senator Ted Cruz. He’s a brash loudmouth, stubborn as a mule, and apparently places no stock in biding his time or waiting to gain experience before seeking publicity. Cruz is a freshman senator who’s angering veterans on both sides of the political aisle and has gotten Americans arguing. While I don’t agree with Cruz’ politics, I respect his message on political seniority and decorum: The conservative Texan has opined to CNN that he does not work for “party bosses” in Washington.
Though I would prefer that my political independence be more moderate than extreme, I respect Cruz’ ability and willingness to stand up to party elders. Hopefully his lead will convince other legislators, hopefully less extreme legislators, to become willing to break ranks. Ironically, Cruz’ stubborn actions this autumn may lead to more compromise down the road as more Congressmen, both Republican and Democrat, grow tired of listening to party bosses. Cruz may be wrong about wanting to shut down the government…but he’s right about the need to ignore the status quo.
America has gotten itself into a spending and governance problem via incremental change. More spending on liberal programs here, more spending on conservative projects here, more pork barrel spending all around, until we’re eyeball-deep in debt. Now we’re in a pickle and nobody wants to wield the red pen to slash spending. Nobody in Congress wants to rock the boat, upset the system, and risk losing out on Congress’ age-old system of perks accorded by seniority. If you speak out of turn and anger the party bosses you could lose the next election, being cast from the comfort of Washington power.
Well, America is not going to get out of its entrenched spending problems if nobody is willing to speak out of turn. It’s the bystander effect writ large: Everyone in Congress is waiting for somebody else to speak the truth. If a wise moderate does not speak the truth, what happens when an extremist finally grabs the microphone?
Unless more level-headed legislators take Cruz’ lead and begin bucking the Washington status quo, power may shift to the extremists who appeal to Americans’ hearts and spirits by playing the rebel. Cruz, for all his ills, looks decidedly admirable for facing the mainstream Republican heat without flinching. I fear that the baking he is receiving on Capitol hill could make him stronger. What is needed, for the benefit of all, is for wiser, more experienced leaders to have the courage to buck the system and say what needs saying.
Though I disagree with Ted Cruz’ message, I applaud his courage for speaking out of turn.