GOP Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's 21-hour marathon on the Senator floor was more than just a symbolic gesture or, as some have said, simple “theatrics.” It takes undeniable courage and stamina to speak and stand for hours even when Cruz may have felt that he was the loneliest senator in the chamber. Although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid moved forward with the procedural vote today and ignored the junior senator from Texas, Cruz gained the respect of so many Americans who from day one were frustrated with the Obama administration and the Democrats' bullying tactics of pushing through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Long speeches on the Senate floor are what political geeks like me just love. All eyes in Washington were on Cruz. At a dinner last night in Mount Vernon, we all heard about his reading of “Green Eggs and Ham” on the Senate floor. My husband and I watched his speech when we got home, and this morning I was anxious to see if he survived the evening. When I turned on C-SPAN, Cruz was still eloquently stating his points on why Washington needed to listen to the American people.
What was surprising was that he clearly spelled out the Republican alternative to Obamacare – something that Republicans have failed to effectively explain to the American people. He talked about portability – how individuals should have the ability to keep their health insurance and not have their health insurance tied to an employer, especially nowadays as individuals change jobs more frequently. He also discussed how insurance prices could decrease with increased competition and an individual would be able to find the best deals by being able to buy insurance across the 50 states.
The majority of the American people have never been sold on Obamacare, despite the Obama administration's multi-million dollar public relations campaign; the Affordable Care Act remains incredibly unpopular. In a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 70 percent of respondents said that they did not even understand the law. With all the setbacks, the government is also not equipped to handle the massive implementation of the law.
The GOP establishment realizes that as they only have control of the House little can be done to stop Obamacare since a Democratic-controlled Senate and the Oama administration will derail any of their efforts. They do not want to repeat the political damage that occurred in the 1990s when the government shutdown and President Clinton pointed the finger at the Republicans in Congress. Many in the GOP are placing their bets on winning the Senate in 2014 and letting Obamacare crumble on its own.
While tactical differences exist in the GOP on dealing with the Obamacare strategy, Republicans should have united with Cruz because at the end they all stand for the same goal: repeal and replace Obamacare. His arguments are the same as those Republicans who decided not support him.
The challenge for Cruz is that being the lone ranger in the Senate is very limiting. He needs to make friends even with Republican leadership and those senators who have been around longer than him. When he decided not to lend support in primary races, Cruz hurt his relationships with his colleagues, which may have added to their decision not to back him.
While Senators Cruz, Mike Lee of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, Pat Roberts of Kansas and a few others may have lost the battle today, they have won in the eyes of the majority of the American people who know the negative implications of Obamacare in their lives.